Is June 12, 1898 REALLY the Philippines’ Independence Day?

It’s 2014 and as of this writing, guess what: tomorrow is “Independence Day”. Again. According to the latest Philippine History books, the 12th June is the day the Philippines became “independent” — the outcome of the Philippine Revolution which began August 1896. On the 12th June 1898, Aguinaldo led the declaration of Philippine independence from Spanish colonial rule. But this was not recognized either by the United States of America or by Spain. The Spanish government later ceded the Philippine archipelago to the United States in the 1898 Treaty of Paris. The Philippines Revolutionary Government did not recognize the treaty. When the Americans sought to execute the terms of the treaty, a three-year conflict, now called the Philippine-American War, ensued.

The rest of history following that, can be summarised in one sentence:

The Philippines became a colony of the United States then was granted Independence on the 4th July 1946.

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When it comes to national defense, Filipino ingenuity rules!

When it comes to national defense, Filipino ingenuity rules!

The trouble with history is that it is subject to interpretation and revision. Aguinaldo’s declaration in 1898 was unilateral. When you take a unilateral position, you need to have the muscle to back that up. Unfortunately for Aquinaldo, he lacked the military capability to beat the US’s expeditionary forces. So a massacre followed and on top of the steaming carnage in its aftermath, the victors planted the Stars and Stripes.

Sound familiar?

Indeed it is. That’s because throughout all of human history, that’s pretty much the way international conflicts are settled. We may pretend to be subject to “international laws” today, but the reality is vastly different. Ask Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Ask any former or incumbent US president dead or alive.

And, yes;

Ask China.

If we really believe in the notion of “international law”, there wouldn’t be any need for the Philippines’ on-going too-little-too-late military buildup. It’s a futile exercise of desperately taking a crash course in Kung Fu as Chuck Norris approaches. The only thing keeping the Chinese from nuking Manila is because they like Henry Sy’s malls and Kris Aquino movies.

So one may agree, it may be more fun in the Philippines, and perhaps it is true that talagang sarap maging Pilipino (“being Filipino is really so orgasmic”). But if we really believe those words to be true, are we really willing to defend all that goodness? With force if necessary?

Ironic, isn’t it? The home of a typical Filipino household with some material goods of consequence to lose is a virtual fortress. It’s ringed by a 10-foot cinderblock wall with glass shards cemented on top of it. Its windows are enforced with iron bars (often to the detriment of fire safety), and a vicious mangy dog (and in the more affluent homes, an equally mangy security guard) often roams its gardens. That’s because Filipinos recognise that Philippine laws and the police forces tasked to uphold it are all pretty much useless.

Yet Filipinos have put absolute unwavering faith in “international law” to secure their sovereign claim to the sole right to denude their forests, fish their seas to smithereens, and turn their tony beaches into seedy amusement parks. Interesting national philosophy, to say the least.

So, yeah, the 12th of June. We call that day “Independence Day”. Araw ng kalayaan (“Freedom day”). A day to celebrate ‘Pinoy Pride’.


Discussing the inconvenient truths underlying Philippine “independence” is like discussing a woman’s age. You just don’t. Not in polite company at least.

Happy ‘Independence’ Day!

[NB: Parts of this article were lifted from the article “Independence Day (Philippines)” in a manner compliant to the terms stipulated in the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License that governs usage of content made available in this site.]

15 Replies to “Is June 12, 1898 REALLY the Philippines’ Independence Day?”

  1. “The only thing keeping the Chinese from nuking Manila is because they like Henry Sy’s malls and Kris Aquino movies.”

    That made my day. Despite all the other countries China’s been hitting on why would it target us apart from we’re the most weak?

    Despite all this why they never change Philippine independence to the actual date of independence (July 4)..It would be more historically accurate plus them fanatics have an excuse to celebrate an Western holiday instead of the local one?

    Besides all these holidays aren’t really much celebrated as to an a legit dayoff from work. If one does celebrate it then good for them.

    1. A bit of trivia – independence day used to be celebrated on July 4. And we used to celebrate it with fervor – Pinoys then really felt what it meant to be independent. It was changed on a whim by Macapagal, because pinoys then associated ID w/ their love for all things american. Since then, it just lost meaning for my old folks. And if my old folks didn’t celebrate it, I’d find it hard to find meaning on this June 12 date too. Especially with all these pinoy-thing going on right now.

  2. Lol. Americans must have been giggling beside themselves. Filipino leaders backstabbed and politically assasinated each other, including the their military generals during Aguinaldo’s war. Funny how a century later, Philippines remains to be the same bloodthirsty political cesspit.

  3. and if China gives up it’s claim on West Philippine Sea, can we also call it an Independence Day? just kidding of course.

    1. That is also one question which begs an answer. If China gives up on that, then what does Philippines intend to do with that? Do we even have the means to extract whatever is under those seas? Even if oil and gas can be extracted, would it even trickle down to the rest of the people (Malampaya gas fund, part II)?

  4. You forgot the “Battle of Manila Bay”. It was a “palabas” battle like the “palabas” investigation of Aquino in the Pork Barrel Scam. Before that, Aguinaldo had been paid by the Spanish government, Mexican pesos, to go into exile to Hong Kong…sounds that nothing has changed, since Aguinaldo time. You can pay any Filipino politician…they have their own prices.

    Anyway…Happy Independence Day!

  5. To put it in perspective, we’re not the only country that has that issue when it comes to choosing a precise national day.

    The USA declared Independence on July 4th, 1776 but Britain didn’t fully accept it until years later.

    Russia declared its independence from Soviet control on June 12th, 1990 but didn’t become fully in control of its territory till the end of 1991.

    Indonesia declared independence on Aug 17th, 1945 but it wasn’t until 1949 the Dutch accepted that reality! In short, most so-called national days are simply symbolic and not exactly historically precise if you know what I mean…

  6. Wait, Henry Sy and Kris Aquino? Really dude? Well I have seen Kris Aquino’s movies but its not like any foreigners would even care. And China, not nuking Philippines because of that? You know how much expensive nuke is and one nuke cannot even destroy a city.

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