Topic |  


Topic |  

sundry-thumbby Jes B. Tirol


To the majority of Filipinos the terms “Independence Day” and “Declaration of Independence Day” are practically the same.  The truth of the matter is there is a whale of difference.

Independence Day is that day when a country becomes independent from the control of another country.  It can already act on its own and is recognized as such by other countries.  This event happened to the Philippines on July 4, 1946.


A Declaration of Independence is just a proclamation by a group of people that the country is already independent.  It may happen that no other country in the world agree or recognizes that declaration.  That event happened to the Philippines on June 12, 1898.

Even though there were many Declaration of Independence proclaimed in the Philippines, the June 12, 1898 declaration by the Dictatorial Government of General Emilio Aguinaldo is recognized by law as the official Declaration of Independence.

Historical Antecedents

Before the arrival of the Spaniards in what is today the Philippines, there were already many existing kingdoms and Sultanates.

On the year 1572, the Spanish General Miguel Lopez de Legazpi declared that that the Philippines was a colony of Spain.  Gen. Legazpi was named the Adelantado or Governor.

As the Spaniards proceeded in their conquest the Sultanates in Sulu and Mindanao resisted and were never conquered. Not withstanding the actual situation, the Spaniards still claimed to have dominion over the Sultanates of Sulu and Mindanao.


The Americans followed suite in invading and conquering the Philippines. They were only able to conquer the Christianized portion of the Philippines. The Muslim portion was not conquered.  The Americans created the “Province of the Non-Christian Tribes” and attached it to the conquered Philippines.  They encouraged the leaders of the Muslim sympathizers to study in the United States with the hope that they can convince the Non-Christian places to become part of the American administered Philippines.


Eventually it was assumed that the Non-Christian places were already part of the Philippines.

Philippines Declaration

When Gat Andres Bonifacio started the Philippines Revolution with his Katipunan group in 1896 he declared Philippines Independence.  However, Bonifacio was a good organizer but an inept military leader.  He never won a battle against the Spaniards.


Meanwhile in the Province of Cavite, Emilio Aguinaldo, the Mayor of Kawit, Cavite also started to fight against the Spaniards.  With the help of the educated people of Cavite, Aguinaldo won his battles by starting to attack the small Spanish stations in order to obtain weapons, and proceeded to attack the larger ones.

Emilio Aguinaldo became successful in battles that soon he was able to seize the leadership of the revolution from Bonifacio.


The first phase of the revolution ended in the Pact of Biak-na-Bato.  Gen. Aguinaldo and the leadership of the revolution went into self-exile in Hong Kong.

When the Americans defeated the Spaniards in the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, the Americans fetched Aguinaldo from Hong Kong and he arrived in the Philippines of May 19, 1898.  He started the second phase of the revolution by forming a Dictatorial Government.

On June 9, 1898, Gen. Aguinaldo ordered lawyer Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista to prepare a Declaration of Independence.  It was read on the morning of June 12, 1898.

That declaration was only a rallying cry.  It did not make the Philippines independent.  In fact no other country recognized that Declaration of Independence.

The Philippines was soon conquered by the Americans.

American Declaration

When the Americans declared its independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776 it occasioned the start of the American Revolution.  The fight lasted for five (5) years and the revolution ended when the British surrendered on Oct. 19, 1781.  However, it was in 1783 when the British signed a treaty recognizing the thirteen (13) Colonial States to be independent.  The Americans proceeded to frame a Constitution to unite them into one country.  In 1789, George Washington was elected as the first President.

Good for the Americans because they won.  The Philippines lost to the Americans.

Philippines Independence

The Philippines did not completely won against the Spaniards and it was definitely conquered by the Americans.  The June 12, 1898 Declaration of Independence did not led into independence.

The Tydings-McDuffie Law of the United States created in 1935 a transition period known as the “Philippine Commonwealth”.  The Americans promised that by July 4, 1946 the Philippines will be granted independence.

On the morning of July 4, 1946 the American flag was lowered and the Philippine flag was raised to signify that the Philippines was already an independent country.  Many countries in the world sent their congratulatory messages and recognized the Philippines as an independent country.

Therefore July 4, 1946 was our Independence Day.  June 12, 1898 was only a Declaration of Independence Day that never led into the independence of the Philippines.

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