In the afternoon of June 12, 1898, General Emilio F. Aguinaldo solemnly proclaimed at the historic balcony of his ancestral house on Calle Real in Kawit, Cavite, the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of the Philippines. He then proudly waved the Philippine flag, sewn in Hong Kong by Doña Marcela M. Agoncillo, amidst thunderous applause and shouts of Mabuhay ang Kalayaan ng Pilipinas! The San Francisco de Malabon band played the tune of the National Anthem of the Philippines called Marcha Filipina at that time. Most of the people who witnessed the momentous event were barefoot military personnel wearing shirts and red trousers, wide-brimmed straw hats, and carrying captured rifles with bolos hanging from their waists. The group of civilian visitors who rode in horse-drawn carriages wore ties and dark coats befitting the solemn occasion.
The declaration of Philippine independence from the colonial rule of Spain concluded the Philippine Revolution. Philippine independence, however, was neither recognized by the United States of America (USA) nor by Spain. The Spanish government later ceded the Philippine archipelago to the United States under the 1898 Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish-American War. Then the USA granted independence to the Republic of the Philippines on July 4, 1946 under the Treaty of Manila.
On September 29, 1898, the Malolos Congress formally ratified the Declaration of Independence, which had been adopted by the assembly of local officials in Bacoor, Cavite, on August 1 of the same year. In that meeting, a resolution was adopted, calling on the President of the Philippines to take steps to secure from foreign powers their recognition of the independence of the Philippines. Thus, the Revolutionary Government, on August 6, 1898, sent diplomatic notes to foreign nations, requesting then to accord formal recognition to the Philippines as a free and independent nation.On July 4, 1901, the USA established a civilian colonial government in Manila. The following year, also on July 4, which was the American Independence Day, U.S. President Theodore B. Roosevelt declared the end of the Philippine-American War. On July 4, 1946, after nearly 50 years of American colonial rule, broken only by more than three years of Japanese occupation, the USA recognized the independence of the Philippines in ceremonies held in front of the Legislative Building. The proclamation fulfilled the American policy of independence provided by the Tydings-McDuffie Law of 1934. July 4 was celebrated as Philippine Independence Day, until President Diosdado P. Macapagal decided in 1962 to commemorate June 12, 1898, instead as Araw ng Kalayaan. President Ferdinand E. Marcos who succeeded Macapagal later proclaimed July 4 as the “Philippine-American Friendship Day.”
The declaration of Philippine Independence Day marked the Filipinos’ exercise of their right to self-determination, liberty, and independence. It was a legitimate assertion by the Filipino nation of its natural and inalienable claim to freedom and independence, which is an inherent right of every people, not dependent upon the will and discretion of another.
We congratulate the government of the Republic of the Philippines headed by H. E. President Benigno S. Aquino III and Vice President Jejomar C. Binay on the occasion of the 115th Anniversary of Philippine Independence Day. Mabuhay ang Araw ng Kalayaan ng Pilipinas!