Pacete: Facts and fancies behind Philippine Independence

As I See It

IT WAS President Diosdado Macapagal who proclaimed June 12 a national holiday in celebration of Philippine Independence. Emilio Aguinaldo, head of the Philippine Revolutionary Republic, formally proclaimed Philippine independence in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898.

The Proclamation of Independence, formally known as "Acta de la proclamacion de independencia del pueblo Filipino," was drafted and read by Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista. The "Acta" declared the Philippines free from the bondage of Spain.

The event was highlighted by the playing for the first time of our national anthem, originally entitled "Marcha Filipina Magdalo" and later changed to "La Marcha Nacional Filipina," was composed by Julian Felipe and played by the Malabon Band. The Spanish lyrics were written by Jose Palma a year later.

There was also the unfurling of the Philippine national flag from Hong Kong made by Marcela Agoncillo assisted by Lorenza Agoncillo and Delfina Herbosa. Where is now the original flag used by Aguinaldo? The Suntay family whose members are the grandchildren of Aguinaldo claimed that the original flag is displayed at their family museum in Baguio.

Our independence was changed from July 4 (1946-1961) to June 12 (beginning 1962) to correct a historical error. The celebration of independence on July 4 could mean our subjection and dependence to America. The Philippines gained self-government from the United States on July 4, 1946. We are making it clear that the United States did not grant our independence; it restored it.

When the Americans started their colonial rule to July 3, 1946, our independence was in the state of animation. We are thanking President Macapagal for his political landmark decision. The same gratitude is also given to Prof. Gabriel Fabela, head of the Philippine Historical Association.

July 4 as Philippine independence day was made and declared by the US Congress, not by the Filipinos, whereas June 12 was chosen and declared by the Filipinos by virtue of Ra 4166 enacted by the Philippine Congress. July 4, 1946 only signified US recognition of our independence.

Throwback: It was during the time of Manuel Quezon that our government made moves for the recognition of our independence. Quezon during that time was already ill. He was suffering from tuberculosis. He sent Sergio Osmeña and Manuel Roxas to America to follow on the Philippine Autonomy Act.

The two politicians were potential rivals of Quezon. He thought that the two guys could not do anything but this Os-Rox Mission was able to have positive result by having Hare-Hawes-Cutting Bill from the US senators. Quezon did not like it and he influenced Congress that this bill should be rejected.

He personally went to Washington and made use of his charisma so that the US Congress could make a bill based on what he wanted. There came Tydings-McDuffie Bill, a xerox copy of Hare-Hawes-Cutting Bill. That helped Quezon to become president of the 1935 Commonwealth.

Sidelight story: In Silay, there was a political "chisme" (piece of gossip) from the "circulo de buena familias" that Philippine independence was favorably okayed by US Congress because other than Osmeña, Roxas and Quezon, there was a group of Filipino politicians coming from the sugar block who made sweet lobby for the approval of the bill.

It was alleged that the bagman could have been from Negros. If we want to believe, there could be some bases. Negros sugar planters or the "hacenderos" with more than enough money could help sweeten the deal. We could always maliciously say that Negros sugar money made possible the recognition of our independence.

Proof? Quezon, Osmeña and Roxas visited the owners of several mansions in Talisay and Silay. Those secret meetings before are not much of a secret anymore today. Their grandchildren love to talk about the political secrets of their grandfathers especially about that leather bag that contained lobby money. I am just sharing a political gossip as part of "cronica de la sociedad." Happy Independence Day Celebration!


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