Former President of the Philippines
“A nation is born into freedom on the day when such a people, moulded into a nation by a process of cultural evolution and sense of oneness born of common struggle and suffering, announces to the world that it asserts its natural right to liberty and is ready to defend it with blood, life, and honor.”The promotion of a healthy nationalism is part of the responsibility of the leaders of newly independent nations. After they lay the foundation for economic development, they promote nationalism and spur the search for national identity. This we can do by honoring our distinguished forebears and notable periods in our history. A step we took in this direction was to change the date for the commemoration of Philippine Independence day.When I was a congressman, I formed the opinion that July 4 was not the proper independence day for Filipinos and should be changed to June 12– the date General Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed the independence of the Filipinos in Kawit, Cavite, in 1898.Having served in the foreign service, I noted that the celebration of a common independence day with the United States on July 4 caused considerable inconvenience.
The American celebration dwarfed that of the Philippines. As if to compound the irony, July 4 seemed tantamount to the celebration of Philippine subjection to and dependence on the United States which served to perpetuate unpleasant memories.I felt, too, that July 4 was not inspiring enough for the Filipino youth since it recalled mostly the peaceful independence missions to the United States. The celebration of independence day on June 12, on the other hand, would be a greater inspiration to the youth who would consequently recall the heroes of the revolution against Spain and their acts of sublime heroism and martyrdom. These acts compare favorably with those of the heroes of other nations.In checking the reaction to my plan to shift independence day to June 12, I found that there was virtual unanimity on the desirability of transferring the celebration from July 4. Likewise, there was a preponderant view for choosing June 12 as the proper day.A few suggested January 21, the opening day of the Malolos Congress in 1899, or January 23, when the Malolos Congress, ratifying the independence proclamation of June 12, established a republican system of government.
The reason for this view was that the government temporarily by Aguinaldo when he proclaimed independence on June 12 was a dictatorship.There was no difficulty in adhering to June 12, however, because although Aguinaldo Government was a dictatorship in view of the military operations he was then leading, he led in converting it into a republican Government in the Malolos Congress. Moreover, the celebration of independence refers to its proclamation rather than to the final establishment of the government. In the case of America, when independence was proclaimed on July 4, the American Government was still a confederation and it was much later when it finally became a federal government.The historical fact was that the Filipinos proclaimed their independence from foreign rule on June 12. Even the national anthem and the Filipino flag which are essential features in the birth of a nation were played and displayed respectively at the independence proclamation in Kawit.When I became President, I knew that this was the opportunity to take action on what had been in my mind since entering public life. The specific question was when to make the change.The opportunity came when the US House of Representatives rejected the $73 million additional war payment bill on May 9, 1962. There was indignation among the Filipinos. There was a loss of American good will in the Philippines, although this was restored later by the reconsideration of the action of the US lower chamber. At this time, a state visit in the United States had been scheduled for Mrs. Macapagal and me on the initiative and invitation of President John F. Kennedy. Unable to resist the pressure of public opinion, I was constrained to obtain the agreement of Kennedy to defer the state visit for another time.To postpone the state visit, I wrote a letter on May 14, 1962, to Kennedy, which read in part as follows:The feeling of resentment among our people and the attitude of the US Congress negate the atmosphere of good will upon which my state visit to your country was predicated. Our people would never understand how, in the circumstances now obtaining, I could go to the United States and in all honesty affirm that I bear their message of good will. It is with deep regret theredore that I am constrained to ask you to agree to the postponement of my visit to a more auspicious time.On May 28, 1962, Kennedy wrote me explaining the situation on the war damage bill.
His letter stated:In the meantime, I must respect your decision that your visit to the United States should be postponed. We do not want your visit to be less than first class, when it comes. But I do hope that we will be able to find another convenient time.I decided to effect the change of independence day at that time not as an act of resentment but as a judicious choice of timing for the taking of an action which had previously been decided upon.I called Press Secretary Rufino Hechanova to consult him on my contemplated action. I asked him outright what he thought of my step if I should move the celebration of independence day from July 4 to June 12.Hechanova winced and said: “Please Mr. President, don’t act on that yet. Let us give it a thorough study. I am flying to Iloilo today and on my return on Monday I will come to discuss it with you.”After his departure, I called in Legal Adviser Juan Cancio. “Johnny,” I asked, “Do I have the power to change independence day from July 4 to June 12?” Cancio readily answered: “Yes, sir, because July 4 is being celebrated as independence day not because it is so specifically designated by law but as an official holiday. Since the President has the authority to declare official holidays, you may declare June 12 as a holiday and hold an independence celebration on that day.”I immediately directed Cancio to prepare the proclamation, revised and signed it, and asked him to release it to the press through the Malacañang press office. On May 17, 1962, I certified as urgent to the Congress the enactment of a measure to fix June 12 statutorily as independence day.The change was justified by the successful celebration.
General Emilio Aguinaldo was the guest of honor. At least one million people attended whereas in previous celebrations on July 4, only from two to three hundred thousand came.Bespeaking of the nobility of the American people, President Kennedy was among the first to extend the congratulations of the United States to the Filipino people in celebrating their freedom on June 12, 1962. In a message to me, he said:It is with pleasure that I join the people of the United States in extending our best wishes and warmest congratulations to Your Excellency and the people of the Republic of the Philippines on the occasion of the Philippine Independence Day.A letter of thanks in Spanish was also sent to me by General Aguinaldo on May 19, 1962. A translation of the letter reads in part as follows:I cannot but send you this letter to express the most profound gratitude for the proclamation which Your Excellency has recently issued naming June 12 as independence day– the date when we announced to the whole world that we were a free and independent nation. I who took an active if modest part in the effort of our people to break the colonial yoke we were subjected to, feel joy and pride over the patriotic act which Your Excellency has just performed.In my address on the first June 12 as independence day celebration, I said:In the discharge of my responsibility as President of the Republic, I moved the observance of the anniversary of our independence to this day because a nation is born into freedom on the day when such a people, moulded into a nation by the process of cultural evolution and a sense of oneness born of common struggle and suffering, announces to the world that it asserts its natural right to liberty and is ready to defend it with blood, life, and honor.While we were seated at the grandstand during the ceremonies, General Aguinaldo thanked me again for the rectification of an erroneous historical practice and then asked: “When will there be an Aguinaldo monument at the Luneta like that of Rizal?” I could not answer the question.
The next generation might have the answer.The following year the same successful celebration was held. The commemoration on the third year was likewise a success.I noted by this time that Congress had not yet approved a measure to prescribe June 12 as independence day by statute. I followed up the matter with members of the Senate and the House.Rep. Ramon Mitra Sr. was leading the spade work in the House for the approval of the new independence day measure. The bill was authored by him and Rep. Justiniano Montano. Senator Lorenzo Tañada authored a similar measure in the Senate.Among those whom I talked to in following up the bill was Senator Gerardo Roxas, son of President Roxas who raised the Filipino flag on July 4, 1946 to mark the independence of the Philippines from American rule and thereby became the first President of the Republic of the Philippines. I thought it possible that Senator Roxas might be lukewarm toward the change of independence day since the historical focus on the first Presidency of the Republic may shift from Roxas to Aguinaldo. My talk with him did not bear out my fear. Roxas informed me that what had delayed the approval of the independence day bill was the desire of some legislators to retain some significance for July 4. In the consideration of the measure, the snag was solved by the provision that with June 12 being declared Independence Day, July 4 shall be known as Republic Day.Finally, on August 4, 1964, I signed at Malacañang Republic Act No. 4166 statutorily prescribing June 12 as Philippine Independence Day. Special witnesses invited to the signing were children of Presidents, including Carmen Melencio-Aguinaldo, Manuel Quezon Jr., Maria Osmeña-Charnley, Gerardo Roxas, Tomas Quirino, and my sons Arturo and Diosdado Jr.|
Why Neither July 4 or June 12 Should Philippine Independence Day Be As the Bamboos Sway By Rudy D. Liporada | SAN DIEGO, 6/10/2011 — By virtue of Republic Act No. 4166, the Philippines first celebrated its Independence Day on June 12, 1964. This was not in accord with the Islands’ independence which was recognized on July 4, 1946 by the United States where henceforth, Independence Day was observed on July 4. Invoking nationalism and upon the advice of historians, Republic Act No. 4166 was signed into law by President Diosdado Macapagal in 1964, proclaiming June 12, which up to that time had been observed as Flag Day, as Independence Day. Now July 4 is relegated to being Filipino American Friendship Day. Since then, there is an ongoing debate on which day should the Philippines really celebrate its independence day considering, too, that we talk of a Japanese liberation day in September 3, 1945. There are even those who contend that we could mark April 27, 1521, as the day the Filipinos first declared their freedom when Lapu-Lapu slew Magellan on the beach of Mactan. Then there is the Communist Party of the Philippines that is asserting that the Philippines is not yet free. June 12 as Independence Day
In declaring June 12 as Philippine Independence Day, one of the contentions of former President Diosdado Macapagal goes “I felt, too, that July 4 was not inspiring enough for the Filipino youth since it recalled mostly the peaceful independence missions to the United States. The celebration of Independence Day on June 12, on the other hand, would be a greater inspiration to the youth who would consequently recall the heroes of the revolution against Spain and their acts of sublime heroism and martyrdom. These acts compare favorably with those of the heroes of other nations.” This Macapagal statement would presuppose that we should not forget the heroism and martyrdom of the likes of Andres Bonifacio and his Katipuneros who sprang the salvo of the revolution in August 1896. It should also be noted that Macapagal also said “While we were seated at the grandstand during the ceremonies, General Aguinaldo thanked me again for the rectification of an erroneous historical practice and then asked: ‘When will there be an Aguinaldo monument at the Luneta like that of Rizal?’ I could not answer the question.
The next generation might have the answer.” Perhaps, Macapagal could not answer the question because as history unfolded, it was revealed that Aguinaldo ran a kangaroo court that had Bonifacio, the founder and leader of the Katipunan, sentenced to death. Thus, Aguinaldo’s independence is tainted with the blood of a recognized hero, and if the traditions of other countries who declared their leaders of their revolutions to be their national heroes are emulated, Bonifacio should have been the Philippine national hero. Moreover, in the declaration statement of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898, this phrase is included: “under the protection of the Mighty and Humane North American Nation.” This begs the question, if we were ‘under the protection…’ how could we have been free? The United States and Spain and other countries did not even recognize this declaration. July 4 as Independence Day
Now if we celebrate June 12 to “recall the heroes of the revolution against Spain and their acts of sublime heroism and martyrdom,” would this presuppose that if we do not celebrate July 4 as Independence Day that we forget the heroism and martyrdom of those who fought against American colonialism in the Philippines? In a collective amnesia, the Filipinos seem to have forgotten that American soldiers massacred around 600,000 Filipinos during the US occupation of the Archipelago. This would include the Balanginga Massacre where a General Jake Smith turned Samar into a “howling wilderness” where he ordered “I want no prisoners. I want you to kill and burn; the more you kill and burn, the more it will please me…” And there were other revolutionaries who the Americans just relegated to mere bandits or ‘tulisanes’ and tried to be buried in history. To name a few would include: General Miguel Malvar, Luciano San Miguel, Faustina Guillermo, and General Simeon Ola. It should also be noted that the Philippine Constabulary was founded under the auspices of US Captain Henry T. Allen to quash rebels against the US colonial regime in the Philippines and not, primarily, for self defense. Considering these alone, it would appear that the Independence declaration of July 4, 1946 would be more fitting and proper. The Continuing Revolution
However, the revived Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison states in his Philippine Society and Revolution that before the United States declared Philippine Independence, the US made sure that treaties that bind the Philippines and the US were in place. These treaties made sure that the Philippines would remain just an agrarian and non-industrialized country and self-serving only to the interest of the US colonialists. After all, why would the US invest $20,000,000.00 in the Treaty of Paris to secure the Islands if there were no business returns? Thus, Macapagal himself said in March 29, 1968: “Filipino incumbent presidents and most presidential candidates endeavor to obtain the support of the American government or at least not to antagonize it in their bid for the Presidency. This is significant on two counts.
Firstly, it indicates that American authorities perform acts, overt or clandestine, calculated to bear on the actuations of incumbent Filipino Presidents and most Presidential candidates and to affect the campaign and its outcome. Secondly, this practice lessens the independence of mind and action of Filipino Presidents – a fact which could jeopardize the interests of the Filipino people.” In Joma Sison’s parlance, this Macapagal statement translates that the US still has a stranglehold on the Philippines by virtue of its control on the government; the leaders’ economic, social, and cultural activities. Thus, the Communist Party of the Philippines declares that the Archipelago is not yet free; and its armed New People’s Army is hell bent on continuing what the Party calls the unfinished revolution of 1896. So, the question is: Philippine Independence – June 12, July 4, or not yet?
July 4, not June 12
By Felizardo M. Pagsanhan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
9:36 pm | Sunday, June 9th, 2013
21 1123 547
July 4 is the true Independence Day, not June 12. This can be gleaned from the history book titled “Philippine History and Government, Through the Years,” authored by Francisco M. Zulueta, and Abriel M. Nebres. Let me cite this book as reference in this piece. The independence that the Philippines celebrates on June 12 is not a true independence. It is only a proclamation made by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite, on June 12, 1898, which was unsuccessful and became invalid because on Dec. 10, 1898, the Treaty of Paris was ratified. Under this treaty, Spain ceded to America the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico, for which America paid Spain $20 million. Aguinaldo and the revolutionaries failed to stop the ratification of the Treaty of Paris. The Philippines never achieved independence from Spain, and America owned the Philippines (pages 120 and 330). The Malolos Republic at Barasoain Church was also invalid, because it was established on Jan. 28, 1899, when the Philippines was under American occupation (page 123).
The Tydings-McDuffie Law, an act sponsored by Sen. Millard E. Tydings and Rep. John McDuffie, was passed by the US Congress to grant independence to the Philippines after a 10-year transition period in the government established for Filipinos under the American Commonwealth (pages 171-173). Exactly on July 4, 1946, the Philippines was granted independence, as proclaimed to the world by US President Harry S. Truman (pages 172, 211 and 338). Thereafter, the Philippines celebrated Independence Day on July 4 every year for 15 years, until it was moved to June 12 by President Diosdado Macapagal. According to Dr. Maria Serena I. Diokno, chair of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, President Macapagal issued Proclamation 28 in 1962, which affirmed the proclaimed independence by Aguinaldo in Cavite on June 12, 1898. But Macapagal’s Proclamation 28 was a grave mistake. He should have known that the proclaimed independence by Aguinaldo became invalid under the Treaty of Paris. He also forgot that he became president under the independence achieved by the Philippines from America, on July 4, 1946. This error must be rectified, to stop Filipinos from celebrating a fake Independence Day on June 12.
The new Congress must be told of this grave mistake so that it can pass a law to bring back our observation and celebration of the Philippines’ true Independence Day to July 4. If Congress fails to do so, Filipinos will continue to celebrate an independence that never took place, and to believe a twisted history of the Philippines. A law must also be passed to prescribe to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and to the Department of Education that Philippine history, must be included in the elementary and high school curriculum as a compulsory subject. The truth commission ordered in our Constitution must also be upheld to preclude Filipinos from being fooled. On June 12, the mass media will remind Filipinos that the Philippines is celebrating its 115th year of independence. This is a lie. The true Philippine independence is only 67 years old. Felizardo M. Pagsanhan, 81, says he witnessed the inauguration of the Philippines’ independence on July 4, 1946. He is now retired. The last job he held was as senior purchasing officer and material control man.
June 12, 1898 and July 4, 1946, Two Philippine Independence Days I’m certainly not the expert on the facts surrounding Philippine Independence, but AS USUAL, I have my observations and opinions as an American outsider on what I see and hear over here.
So, when it comes to this topic, what DO I see? That’s easy—not much, as in not much happening.
Like so many aspects of this country’s history, Philippine independence seems to inspire little more than ambivalence among the common folk that I know. It’s not really even celebrated, at least not like what I’m used to back home. I can’t imagine such indifference in the States during our own July 4th celebrations. Yet, based on the actual events of June 12, 1898, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. In the end, things did not go well in the months and years that followed. By the end of 1898 a soundly defeated Spain ceded the Phils to the United States, and right or wrong, President McKinley decided to keep it. What followed was The Philippine Insurrection, a long war that was ultimately lost by the Filipinos to the USA.
The average citizen doesn’t know that June 12 was not even the original holiday. Or perhaps more appropriately, they don’t realize that it HAD BEEN the original, before being superseded. Until 1964, starting from 1946, July 4th was THE day marking this nation’s independence. The current president’s father, Diosdado Macapagal, who was the president in 1964, must have decided that sharing July 4th with the U.S as their Independence Day was just too much a source of national embarrassment.
I can understand the pride that went into his decision. After all, the way they see it, we “granted” them their sovereignty. The July 4th date was a reminder to those mostly academics and elite “in the know” that their freedom was more our decision than it was theirs. Basically, the Americans “gave permission” to the Philippines that it was ready for self rule, and that must have been a pretty bitter pill to have to swallow.
At the time, it was probably done in what we thought was a spirit of good will, but in hindsight, we should have done it on a different date—like June 12th maybe? But, who knows—(And I’m sure someone does)—perhaps Filipinos were in on the decision as well? To put it mildly, sometimes feelings between nations change over the years. In the jubilant months just after WWII I’m sure there was a lot of Filipino-American cooperation and friendship, which apparently had melted away by the 1960s.
Interestingly, the original 1898 declarer of Philippine Kalayaan (freedom), Emilio Aguinaldo, was still alive in 1964 at the age of 94, when President Macapagal made his decision to change the official date of independence to June 12; although Aguinaldo died on February 6, a few months before the actual new independence date could be celebrated. Knowing politicians and their sense of the theatrical, I’m sure Macapagal wanted to make some political hay out of having Emilio around during the big kick off.
In a way, the Philippines has three Independence Days. It could be argued quite strongly that the overthrow of the Marcos Regime on February 25, 1986 is THE most appropriate day of the three to celebrate. And without a doubt, of the three holidays, the February 25th EDSA Day is probably the most understood by the populace. Sadly, not much has changed here since then. I clearly remember the heady exuberance and optimism that followed the days of “people power.” Unfortunately, not much has come of it.
Academics here would never admit to such a thing, but the Philippines was neither ready nor capable of maintaining its territorial integrity in 1898. The Spanish had seen to that. Thanks to the Spanish, indigenous Filipinos did not speak a common language; they spoke a sea of them. And, the host of different peoples certainly did not yet have a sense of being part of a single nation nor did they share a culture, except for that given to them by their Spanish overlords. Thus, the archipelago was easy pickings for continued control by the rest of the colonialist world. The Dutch, Germans, Brits and a host of others were waiting for the U.S. to leave so they could swoop in, pull it apart, and take over.
Personally, I think the July 4th day, now called Filipino American Friendship Day, is the one that marks the true spirit of Philippine independence. By the end of the war against Japan, Filipinos had certainly proven they were capable of self-rule. And even though it could be said that we had consented to their sovereignty, in reality, it was pressure from the Filipinos themselves that had finally made it happen.
Then again, who says that any country has to have the same kind of spirited Independence Day that the States have? After all, the French still proudly celebrate their so-called Independence on Bastille Day, which marks the day in 1790 when the masses stormed the hated Bastille. Thing is, it was also the start of one of the bloodiest and most unsavory periods of France’s history. Who needs that?