When I was young, we celebrated July 4, 1946 as the Independence Day of the Philippines. President Diosdado Macapagal made an Executive Order changing the date to June 12, 1898. These dates are too far remove from the events in Bohol. Can we choose an Independence Day for Bohol?
July 4, 1744
The Boholanos are proud of the achievements of Francisco Sendrijas, alias Francisco Dagohoy. He started his revolution against Spain on July 4, 1744, which was exactly 32 years ahead of the United States declaration of independence on July 4, 1776.
The Dagohoy government in Bohol lasted until August 30, 1829 or 85 years later. The Dagohoy government controlled a major portion of Bohol. The Spaniards were relegated to the coastal towns. These are the towns that have Old Catholic stone churches.
Dagohoy had commercial relations with the Moros in Mindanao and Sulu. In 1762, the British contacted Dagohoy through the Moros and armed the Boholanos for the planned attack on Manila. When the British ships arrived, it was already full of soldiers and the Boholanos were bypassed. The British supplied arms were the reason why the Boholanos could resist the Spaniards for a long time.
The greatest legacy of the Dagohoy Revolution was a true land reform. Today almost all Boholanos own a piece of land.
June 12, 1898
On June 12, 1898 the military commanders of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo gathered at Kawit, Cavite. Don Ambrosio Rianzares prepared and read the declaration of independence. If you will read the signatories of the declaration you will notice that there is no name of General Aguinaldo. He was absent because he was in the battlefield. Instead you can read the name of an American officer named Col. Johnson.
When the Boholanos heard of the declaration of Independence, the organized forces in Bohol made contact with Gen. Aguinaldo to manifest their allegiance. Major Pantaleon del Rosario was sent to Bohol to make coordination with the Boholanos.
June 11, 1899
On February 11, 1899 the Federal Government of the Visayas or the Gobierno de Canton at Sta. Barbara, Iloilo was attacked and dispersed by the Americans. Bohol was a part of that Federal Government that was loyal to Gen. Aguinaldo. As a consequence the Province of Bohol became isolated even though it was yet peaceful.
The Provincial Officials in Bohol decided that they will convert Bohol into an independent republic to make their actions legal.
On June 11, 1899 the Town Presidents (now: Mayors) gathered at Tagbilaran as representatives of the people. They created and approved a constitution making Bohol as an Independent Republic. The elected officials of the Republic were the same people who were officials of the Provincial Government. Bernabe Reyes was elected President. Salustiano Borja was the Vice President. Rafael Reyes was the Minister of Finance. Eduardo Calceta was the Minister of Justice. Macario Sarmiento was the Minister of Police. The Department of Education was under the care of Fr. Roman Ortiz, the Parish Priest of Tagbilaran. The Roman Catholic religion was declared as the official religion of Bohol, which was protested by the Eskayas who were in favor of the Aglipayan religion.
The officials of the Bohol Republic functioned well until the arrival of the Americans on March 17, 1900. The occupying Americans and the Bohol Republic coexisted until September 1, 1900 when the first battle between the Americans and the Boholanos occurred at Kugaw, Tubigon (now: Kahayag, Tubigon).
July 4, 1946
In year 1935 the Americans allowed the Philippines to have a Constitutional Convention to create the ten-year Commonwealth period.
In 1936 the Commonwealth started to exist with a promise that by July 4, 1946 the Philippines will be granted independence by the United States of America.
By 1940 the Commonwealth was interrupted by the Second World War. Luckily by October 1945 the Americans were able to drive away the Japanese invaders.
A Presidential election was hurriedly made and President Sergio OsmeÃ±a was defeated by Manuel Roxas.
On July 4, 1946 President Manuel Roxas became the first president of the new Republic of the Philippines that was granted its independence by the Americans.
Even though the choice of July 4, 1946 and June 12, 1898, are matters in the national level, we Boholanos ought to recognize the independence that was wrought by Boholanos. However, until today our Provincial Officials have not yet made an official stand to recognize the dates July 4, 1744 and June 11, 1899. (By Jes B. Tirol)