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SatJun 12

Philippines Independence Day – June 12, 2021

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.

When is Philippines Independence Day 2021?

The Philippines celebrates its independence on June 12 every year.

History of Philippines Independence Day

For over 300 years, the Philippines was a Spanish colony, and is named after King Philip II of Spain. In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan landed on the Philippines islands and claimed it for Spain. Magellan wanted all the local chiefs to submit to the Spanish rule but one of them named Lapu Lapu refused. An attempt was made by Magellan to crush Lapu Lapu, but he failed and was killed.

When Miguel Lopez de Legazpi led an expedition in 1565, the Spaniards finally gained a foothold in the Philippines. They built the city of Intramuros in 1571, which was later renamed Manila, and became the capital of the land. Eventually, Spanish rule took over, and a feudal system was established— with large estates owned by the Spanish, and Filipinos as the workers. The Spanish years brought prosperity to the Philippines, and their rule remained uneventful. This changed when the British captured Manila in 1762. Under the terms of the Treaty of Paris signed in 1763, the city was handed back in 1764.

The 19th Century

Feelings of nationalism started to stir in the 19th Century. This rebellion grew with the help of Jose Rizal, an author who wrote two novels “El Filibusterismo” (The Filibusterer), and “Noli Me Tangere” (Touch me Not). These books caused a sensation and nationalism spread like wildfire throughout the Philippines. In 1892, Jose Rizal founded a movement called Liga Filipina, which called for reform rather than revolution. As a result Rizal was arrested and exiled to Dapitan on Mindanao.

Parallel to this, a more extreme organisation was formed by Andres Bonifacio, called the Katipunan. A revolution started in August 1896, and Jose Rizal was executed on December 30, 1896 under the pretense of supporting the revolution, even though he did not. Yet his execution merely inflamed Filipino opinion and the revolution grew.

Next started the war between Spain and the U.S. in 1898. The Spanish fleet was defeated by the Americans in Manila Bay on April 30, 1898. Ceasing the opportunity, Filipino revolutionaries surrounded Manila, and their leader Emilio Aguinaldo declared the Philippines as independent on June 12. However, American rule took over when Aguinaldo was captured in 1902.

The 20th Century

Under the leadership of Americans, the Philippines was made a commonwealth, and semi-independent in 1935. Literacy rate also increased as many American teachers were sent to the Philippines. The USA promised that the Philippines would become completely independent in 1945.

On December 10, 1941, Japan invaded the Philippines, and captured Manila. All of the Philippines was now in the hands of the Japanese. In October, 1944, American troops returned to the Philippines and recaptured Manila. The Philippines became independent on 4 July 1946. Manuel Roxas was the first president of the newly independent nation.

Philippines Independence Day timeline

June 12, 1898
General Emilio Aguinaldo Declares Independence

Independence Day is celebrated on June 12 because of the general's declaration 121 years ago.

July 4, 1946
The Philippines Gains Independence

The U.S. occupied the islands from the time they declared their independence from Spain until 1946.

1958
The Philippine's National Anthem is Translated

The original version, unveiled in 1899, was written in Spanish.

1986
First Female President

Corazon Aquino was elected president and served until 1992.

Traditions

Independence of the Philippines was a mighty feat. On independence day, the sacrifices of the national heroes are remembered, the country’s sovereignty is appreciated, instilling nationalism in the citizens, as well as celebrating the culture and tradition of its people.

Parades are held nationwide, with participation from the government, and the citizens. As it is a national holiday, businesses, offices, and schools are closed, and families spend the day in parks, and doing other celebratory activities. Filipino communities abroad also celebrate with programs, and annual parades.

Philippines Independence Day By The Numbers

7,100 – the number of islands constituting the Philippines.

28.1% – the percentage of Tagalog people that make up the Filipino population.

108.1 million – the population of the Philippines.

80% – the percentage of people in the Philippines who are Roman Catholic.

1521 – the year when Ferdinand Magellan claimed the Philippine islands for Spain.

Philippines Independence Day FAQs

When did the Philippines get its independence?

Officially, The Republic of the Philippines gained independence from the U.S. on July 4, 1946.

Why do the Philippines have 2 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.

What is the real Independence Day of the Philippines?

The Republic of the Philippines was formally recognized as independent on July 4, 1946. 

Philippines Independence Day Activities

  1. 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?

  2. Attend an Independence Day parade

    The 2020 Philippine Independence Day Parade will take place in New York City on June 7.

  3. 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

  1. Manny Pacquiao

    How many boxers wind up in public office? Manny's now a Senator of the Philippines. Try to stay on his good side.

  2. Bruno Mars

    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.

  3. Imelda Marcos

    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.

  4. 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!

  5. Apl.de.ap

    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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Pride

    "[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.

Philippines Independence Day dates

YearDateDay
2021June 12Saturday
2022June 12Sunday
2023June 12Monday
2024June 12Wednesday
2025June 12Thursday