This coming Saturday, June 12, 2021, marks the 123rd anniversary of the Philippine Independence Day. This is an important event in Philippine history when our Filipino ancestors successfully freed themselves from under Spanish rule.
This is considered one of our country’s greatest achievements. Therefore, it holds a special place in every Filipino’s heart, including OFWs and migrant Filipinos from abroad.
Filipinos celebrate this anniversary by holding local festivals and colorful parades. Families gather under one roof to eat traditional Filipino dishes such as Adobo and Sinigang. Some even buy Lechon to celebrate. Philippine malls and Filipino businesses also hold events and exhibits to celebrate Filipino tradition and culture. At night, there are fireworks.
Philippine Independence day is also one of our national holidays. It is a common sight to see street vendors selling Philippine flags. Flags are taped over cars, businesses, houses, and even on T-Shirts. Government buildings are closed for the day and Philippine Flags are raised at full mast. Kids at school also dress up in traditional Fililipino clothes such as the “Barong Tagalog” and the “Maria Clara”.
For OFWs and migrant Filipinos working abroad, encountering fellow Filipinos can brighten their day. They take great pleasure in sharing camaraderie with fellow Filipinos abroad. And when it comes to Independence day, they celebrate by gathering together and eating traditional Filipino food such as “Pancit Canton”, “Fried Lumpia”, “Kare-Kare”, and many more.
Migrant Filipinos across the globe also created their Filipino communities. They welcome any OFWs or visiting Filipinos and create for them a haven where they can mingle and share their own experiences without feeling out of place.
Fun Facts about Philippine Independence Day
The Philippine Independence Day did not happen overnight. There were several people and events which led to the revolution. All of which are recorded in our Philippine history books. However, there are some facts which may not be officially recorded.
Here are some of the facts people are unaware of about Philippine Independence Day:
1. Philippine Independence was declared at different dates before settling on June 12.
In the past, there was some confusion on the actual date of Independence. Andres Bonifacio declared it on April 12, 1895, and Emilio Aguinaldo declared it on October 31, 1896.
During the early 19 century, Japan granted the Philippine Independence on October 14, 1943.
The United States of America also granted the Philippine Independence on July 4, 1946
On May 12, 1962, President Diosdado Macapagal proclaimed for Independence Day to be on June 12, 1898.
2. Emilio Aguinaldo first declared the Philippine Independence day in Kawit, Cavite.
Kawit, Cavite is the place where Emilio Aguinaldo gave the independence day speech, declared independence day for the Philippines, and raised the Philippine flag. Kawit, Cavite was also where the Philippine National Anthem was first heard.
3. Filipino ancestors attempted several revolts and failed before finally succeeding on June 12.
Recorded in Philippine history, the revolution started in 1896. This led to several attempts of fighting against Spanish rule and failing. Eventually, a truce was established in 1897 between the Spanish colonial government and the Filipino revolutionaries.
As part of the agreement, the Filipino revolutionaries were sent into exile in Hongkong.
It was during the outbreak of the Spanish-American war that America became allies with Filipino revolutionaries. With the Filipino revolutionaries’ help, the United States of America won the war and Emilio Aguinaldo declared Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898.
4. The Philippine Flag’s unique feature is when the flag is flipped upside-down, with the red side on top, this indicates the country is in a state of war.
The design of the Philippine National Flag is represented by white, blue, and red colors, yellow sun with eight beams, and 3 yellow stars. The blue color represents peace, truth, and justice. While the red color represents patriotism and valor.
The eight sunbeams symbolize the eight provinces that were held under martial law during the revolution. And the three stars surrounding the sun represent Luzon, Mindanao, and Panay, now changed to the Visayas.
The first flag was sewn by Marcela Marino Agoncillo and first displayed in the Battle of Alapan, on May 28, 1898.
5. The first anniversary of the Philippine Independence was held in Angeles, Pampanga.
Following the official newspaper of the Philippine Revolution, La Independencia cited that the first anniversary of the Philippine Independence was held in Angeles, Pampanga.
More specifically, the anniversary and reenactment were held in the “Pamintuan mansion”. The anniversary begins with a marching band playing the national anthem before parading on the main streets of Angeles, followed by the ritual unfurling of the National flag.
Places OFWs celebrate Philippine Independence Day
Celebrating Philippine Independence Day is always a happy event. With cheerful music, good beer, and delicious food, Filipinos love to party and are around the company of friends and loved ones. Because for Filipinos, food is an important way to bond with family and relatives. During holidays, there is always a delicious spread ready with many Filipino food favorites.
What’s more, OFWs and migrant Filipinos are also not shy to invite their acquaintances and co-workers over to share the celebration. Many foreigners who experienced the warmth of Filipino hospitality and tasting Filipino food were filled with nothing but praises.
Even countries with heavily injected OFWs and migrant workers joined in on the celebration. With parades, picnics, charity causes, contests, and beauty pageants, countries show their gratitude and appreciation by hosting these events.
Here are some places outside the Philippines that celebrate Philippine Independence Day:
Madison Avenue, New York
A tradition that started in 1990, the Philippine Independence Day Parade takes place on the first Sunday in June. The Philippine Independence Day Parade takes place in Madison Avenue, New York.
It is considered the biggest Philippine Independence Day celebration outside the Philippines. Every year, the parade draws a large crowd, especially OFWs and American Filipinos born from earlier generations of Filipino migrants.
The cultural parade is filled with colorful floats representing the best of Filipino culture, its history, and most importantly, the Philippine Flag. Aside from the parade, there are other events as well.
There is a Street Fair and a Cultural Show which showcases Filipino heritage. It reminds migrant Filipinos of their heritage roots and allows them to participate in their culture.
There are also pageant contests such as the Diwa ng Kalayaan. Filipino celebrities also make an appearance.
The Philippine Embassy in Japan organizes exciting events to host the Philippine Independence Day. Sometimes commercial companies cooperate with the event by offering promotions and discounts. Hotels also celebrate the event by hosting food exhibits and cultural shows.
This year, the Philippine Embassy in Japan is happy to celebrate the 123rd anniversary of Philippine Independence Day. To promote Filipino culture, the “Eats More Fun in the Philippines” campaign was held this April. It has met with success. To celebrate Philippine Independence Day, Hard Rock cafe branches are offering their Filipino menu for the whole month of June.
There are no physical events due to Covid this year. Instead, the Philippine Embassy in Japan will host an online program on the Philippine Embassy’s Facebook Page.
Abu Dhabi, UAE
About 750,000 OFWs are living in the UAE. That means OFWs make up to 25% of the entire Dubai population. Organizing the Philippine Independence Day event is the Bayanihan Council.
Because of the Covid Pandemic, celebrating Philippine Independence Day at a location is put on hold. Instead, the Philippine Embassy is hosting a virtual Independence Day Concert which can be accessed on youtube or the Philippine Embassy in UAE Facebook page.
Last year, to commemorate the Philippine Independence Day, the UAE leaders lit up their tallest building, the Burj Khalifa with the image of the Philippine Flag. Filipino communities also live-streamed the events with appearances from Filipino celebrities, hosting contests and events, and even playing local Filipino bands. Philippine Government officials also made live speeches to honor OFWs living abroad.
Canada, British Columbia
Canada is no stranger to celebrating Philippine Independence Day. There are thousands of migrant Filipinos in Canada. Most of them already have families, raising second and third-generation Filipino-Canadian migrants.
Every year, the Metro Vancouver Philippine Arts and Culture Exposition Society hosts the Philippine Independence Day on the second week of June. The celebration takes place at a landmark venue, the Waterfront Park of North Vancouver, British Columbia.
The event marks the commemoration of the Philippine Independence Day on June 12, 1898. The celebration is formed in the style of a “Barrio Festival” where there are song and dance performances, field parades, and a showcase exhibit of Filipino culture and heritage.
There are food booths readily available to try out native Filipino dishes and delicacies. Visitors may even find the infamous “Balut” or sample some Filipino alcohol. Merchandise booths are also available, displaying local Filipino products at affordable prices.
Thousands of Filipinos, people of multi-ethnic origins, and curious visitors join the event to experience traditional Filipino culture. It is always a vibrant celebration where everyone is invited to join in. The event is held for 2 days for lots of fun and activities.
If local Filipinos from the Philippines travel to Canada during Independence day, they should give this place a visit.
However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there may not be any physical events held this year.
Why is Philippine Independence Day so Important for Filipinos?
The Philippine Independence Day is a reminder to all Filipinos about their struggle and country’s fight for freedom. The sacrifices our Filipino ancestors made and their courage to stand up for their rights and freedom.
The spark that set off the revolution was the execution of 3 Filipino Catholic priests, aptly referred to as the Gomburzas. They were beheaded for speaking out for equal rights among Filipino priests against the Spanish friars. Their execution brought a great realization of social inequality to many Filipinos, including Jose Rizal who later wrote his novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.
His novels inspired a propaganda movement for lobbying political reforms in the Philippines. Spain reacted badly and suppressed any Filipinos suspected of rebellion. It backfired, creating fear and dissent among the Filipino community.
This encouraged many Filipinos to join a secret group known as the “Katipunan”, led by Andres Bonifacio. The Katipunan represented opposition to Spanish rule. It continued to grow until they were eventually discovered by political Spanish enforcers.
This led to several bloody battles across the country. It set in motion a series of politically historical events. Patriotic men and women rose in arms to fight against Spanish oppression that lasted for 300 years. At the end of the conflict, they are celebrated as heroes and become symbols of patriotism.
And we as Filipinos, celebrate the freedom they gave us, by hosting fiestas, and participating in parades that proudly show our Filipino heritage and culture.
Every Filipino from all over the world has a reason to celebrate Philippine Independence Day. Gathering together with fellow kababayans, eating delicious Filipino foods, and drinking Filipino beer is just one way for Filipinos to celebrate their independence from Spanish rule for over 300 years.
It is also to honor the sacrifices of our Filipino ancestors who lost their lives during the bloody revolutions. Because without their courage and strength, Philippine history might be different today.
This is a reminder that Filipinos are a strong and resilient race. Despite having been colonized by different countries, Filipinos never lost sight of what is important: preserving Filipino culture, tradition, and having a strong family community. Their ability to adapt to any situation is admirable. And their hospitable nature is second to none.
However, because of the global pandemic, outdoor celebrations are not yet encouraged. They are banned for the time being. Other options are virtual celebrations or just hosting your private get-together with close family and friends.
To all the OFWs and migrant Filipinos out there celebrating Independence Day, Mabuhay Philippines!
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