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June 12, 1962, The First Celebration of Independence Day

On June 12, 1962,the celebration of Philippine Independence Day was observed for the first time by virtue of Proclamation No. 28, s. 1962 issued by then President Diosdado Macapagal on May 12, 1962. It effectively moved the date of Philippine independence from July 4 to June 12.

July 4, 1946: The Philippine flag flies alone in Philippine skies. (Colorized by the PCDSPO) (www.officialgazette.gov.ph)

July 4, 1946, marked the United States’ formal recognition of the independence of the Republic of the Philippines. Pursuant to the provisions of the Philippine Independence Act or the Tydings Mcduffie Law of 1934, the Philippines was given a ten-year transition period to prepare for independence. Thus, July 4, 1946 was the culmination of the said preparation. It was also the date the Philippines became the Republic of the Philippines – the Third Republic, with Manuel Roxas re-taking his oath, eliminating the pledge of allegiance to the United States of America which was required prior to independence, this time as the first President of the Republic of the Philippines. The Congress of the Commonwealth then became the First Congress of the Republic, and international recognition was finally achieved as governments entered into treaties with the new republic.

July 4, 1946: During the inauguration of the Third Republic, President Manuel Roxas shakes the hand of General Field Marshal Douglas MacArthur of the United States, then the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP). (www.officialgazette.gov.ph)

June 12, was the date independence from Spain was proclaimed in Emilio Aguinaldo’s home in Kawit, Cavite. In his proclamation, President Macapagal cited “the establishment of the Philippine Republic by the Revolutionary Government under General Emilio Aguinaldo on June 12, 1898, marked our people’s declaration and exercise of their right to self-determination, liberty and independence.”

Macapagal’s move was in accordance with the view of historians and many political leaders, that the foundation date of the nation should be June 12, since July 4 was the restoration of that independence.

Image courtesy of wwww.kahimyang.com

Moreover, the move was made in the context of the rejection of the U.S. House of Representatives on the proposed $73 million additional war reparation bill for the Philippines on May 28, 1962. The rejection, according to President Macapagal, caused “indignation among the Filipinos” and a “loss of American good will in the Philippines.” He explained that he deemed it the right time to push the change of the independence date, a political move he was planning even before his ascent to the presidency.

In his speech, President Macapagal stated that “the celebration of our independence on this day does not detract from the respect and gratitude which the Filipino people have for the people of the United States. Indeed, the Declaration of Philippine Independence of June 12, 1898 itself contains two references to the United States. The first reference to America declared that the Philippine Independence being proclaimed was “under the protection of the mighty and humane North American Nation.” The second reference in connection with the description of the Filipino flag said that “the colors blue, red and white, commemorate those of the flag of the United States of North America, in manifestation of our profound gratitude to that great nation for the distinguished protection she is extending to us and will continue to extend to us.” We say therefore that despite the transfer of the celebration of our independence, the Filipino people will preserve their esteem and gratitude for America, and in the present state of the world, I believe I bespeak the sentiment of our people in declaring that we will be ready to fight on the side of America, as in the past, in defense of freedom and human dignity for ourselves and for all mankind.”

Let me avail of this opportunity to disabuse the minds of those who suggest that the transfer of our commemoration of independence was prompted by the action of the American Congress in backing out of a material commitment and obligation to our people. There is no casual relation between the two events. We commemorate our freedom on this day because the permanent truth and historical reality so justify and not for any transient reason. To suggest that we have moved the commemoration of our independence because of the influence of material factors is to offend the Filipino people and their leaders; because the heroic exploits of our patriots and people which led to the declaration of independence on June 12, 1898, as well as acts of patriotism of Filipino heroes thereafter, are incontrovertible proof that in weighing the merits of patriotism, the Filipinos neither count the cost nor consider material rewards but are moved solely and nobly by their fervent love for their country and the pursuit of its noble ideals.

Prior to the moving of the date of Philippine independence, June 12 was celebrated as Flag Day, a holiday originally observed in October, since 1919, when the Philippine Flag was once again permitted to be displayed. In 1941, June 12 became Flag Day, in recognition of the importance of June 12 when independence was proclaimed, and the national flag and anthem formally presented to the Filipino people. Thereafter, June 12 was Flag Day until 1962.

US President John Kennedy recognized the celebration through a message transmitted by Ambassador Stevenson through the Department of Foreign Affairs and was carried by the June 12 morning newspaper. The message reads:

It is with pleasure that I join the people of the United States in extending our best wishes and warmest felicitations to Your Excellency and the people of the Republic of the Philippines on the occasion of Philippine Independence Day.”

President Diosdado Macapagal concluded his speech by saying:

Let us then, all of us, on this day of solemn commemoration, relying mainly upon our own efforts, consecrate ourselves anew to the great ideals that animated our heroic forebears, the ideals of excellence in creation and production, excellence in learning and wisdom, and excellence in patriotism and sacrifice, for the country’s honor and dignity and freedom.”

Sources:

http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph. Proclamation No. 28, s. 1962. Declaring June 12 as Philippine Independence.

http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph. Address of President Macapagal on Independence Day.

http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph. Republic Day

http://www.kahimyang.com.

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