Philippines: Independence Day

The Philippine National Day on 12 June commemorates the public reading of the Act of the Declaration of Independence on that day in 1898, in which revolutionary forces under General Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed the former Spanish East Indies a sovereign state. Spain had been defeated in the Battle of Manila Bay by the United States just over a month earlier.

However, the Philippines had to wait until 1946 to actually achieve sovereignty – Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States, who ruled it as a colony, granting autonomy in 1916 and self-government in 1934. After the Second World War and Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1945, the Treaty of Manila between the US and Philippine governments recognised full Philippine independence.

For the first 18 years of the Philippines’ independence, the date of the Treaty of Manila (4 July) was celebrated as Independence Day, until in 1964 the government accepted nationalist urgings for the date of the 1898 declaration to be adopted instead.

(We were lucky enough to be invited to the Philippine National Day celebrations at the Millennium Dome in 2000. The celebrations were spectacular, but unfortunately we couldn’t say the same about the Dome exhibits.)

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