The Philippines, consisting of more than 7,000 separate islands in the western Pacific, declared independence from Spanish rule over 120 years ago. Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo was responsible for making this claim but it wasn’t until 1962 that then-President Diosdado Macapagal made it a public holiday through a presidential proclamation. The Filipino flag was unfurled for the first time on this day June 12 in 1898 at an inspiring celebration, which also featured the first public playing of the Philippines national anthem. The nation has made great strides. It’s considered to be an emerging market and a newly industrialized country. Tourism also makes a large impact on the Philippines economy.
Philippines Independence Day timeline
The Philippines elected their first female president
Corazon Aquino was elected president and served until 1992. More recently, Gloria Arroya held this position in the early 2000s.
The Philippine's national anthem was finally translated to Filipino
The original version, unveiled in 1899, was written in Spanish. An English version came about in 1938 with the Filipino version following 20 years later.
- July 4, 1946
The Philippines gained independence from U.S.
The U.S. occupied the islands from the time they declared their independence from Spain until 1946.
- June 12, 1898
Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain
Independence Day is celebrated on June 12 because of the general's declaration 121 years ago. He then served as the first president and held this office for roughly two years.
Philippines Independence Day Activities
Create your own "family flag"
National, state, and organizational flags are full of symbolism. Why not create a flag that represents your own family's hopes and strengths?
Attend an Independence Day parade
The 2020 Philippine Independence Day Parade will take place in New York City on June 7.
Try a new food
While balut, described as a "duck embryo street food snack," isn't really something we have a craving for, trying new things (usually) doesn't hurt. Most cultures have interesting menu items, so here's a channel your inner Anthony Bourdain to dabble in new, albeit controversial, cuisine for this holiday?
5 Filipinos With Whom We'd Like To Party
How many boxers wind up in public office? Manny's now a Senator of the Philippines. Try to stay on his good side.
We know — he's only half Filipino. But, if it's the half that's going to order "strawberry champagne on ice" with that magical voice, we'll take it.
The wife of former President Ferdinand Marcos, she was forced to flee along with him to Hawaii after a coup in 1986. Imelda also had something to do with shoes.
Lou Diamond Phillips
Two words: La Bamba! An extremely talented actor who often flies under the radar, he's like that missing aircraft in a nasty storm. When he finally comes back on screen, you're so relieved to see him again. Welcome back, old buddy!
Fluent in three languages? Check! Weirdest name ever? Probably not, but close. Member of a band that leaves you with conflicted feelings about your musical tastes? Yup! The always stylish Apl.de.ap of the Black Eyed Peas would definitely keep things interesting at the dinner table.
Why We Love Philippines Independence Day
The Phillippines actually have TWO independence days
The one celebrated June 12 recognizes the day the islands broke free from Spanish rule. However, American forces occupied the Philippines until 1946. Independence came on July 4, the same day as American Independence Day, but Filipinos recognize June 12 as the day of their rightful day of independence.
Their national flag design has not changed
Talk about loyalty. The original iteration of the flag, unfurled in 1898, is the one Filipinos still fly proudly today. The flag's white triangle stands for equality, while the sunburst inside represents the eight provinces that took up arms agains Spain. The blue stripe stands for peace, truth and justice and the red stripe for patriotism and valor. The three stars symbolize the three island groups of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
"[Indepencence] was the most significant event in our country's history. Not only did we put an end to more than three centuries of subservience but we also resolved to determine the course of our own destiny as a nation." — Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on June 11, 2019.