Historically, the Philippines declared Independence from Spain on June 12th by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo when Filipinos seized the opportunity to take the city of Manila from Spain during the Spanish American War. However, the United States invaded the Philippines during the Spanish submission at Manila Bay. After a series of continual resistance and oppression between the U.S. and Philippines, the U.S. acknowledged that Philippine independence would be granted on July 4th, 10 years from the signing of its own constitution. Disastrously, as this was underway in 1935, World War II broke out and Japan invaded the Philippines capturing it from the United States. The battle for Philippine Independence was then endured far longer than anticipated because of so much upheaval. It was not formally granted until 1946.
Later in the 1960’s, June 12th was ratified by President Diosdad Macapagal as the formal day of true Filipino Independence instead of the recognized day of Independence from the United States - July 4th,1946.
This was an essential act for Filipnos to stand separate and apart from colonial rulers as we fought for our independence far before the United States “granted” it.
Sharing an independence day with your colonizer leaves remnants of control over the Filipino psyche. The ratification of June 12th as the formal Independence day rather than July 4th was another important step our people took to continue establishing autonomy.
With this history in mind, Filipino people are one of the most global citizenries, but where is Filipino Independence headed in the context of assimilation and continued westernization?
We can never know exactly what the future holds but as the recognition for Filipino food and culture becomes more and more established, the contributions of Filipino peoples and communities are finally being seen on a global scale. As a nation that has consistently been occupied and put to work for the sake of others, Filipinos deserve to be acknowledged for their sacrifices, celebrated for their contributions, and supported to further our distinction on the global stage. We are the ones defining what Filipino independence is and what it becomes between the homeland and the diaspora.
This is why, at Gatâ, we are remembering the history, acknowledging the struggle, and asking ourselves what it means to be Filipino today. From our podcast, Eat Filipino Food, to our Kamayan dinners, Filipino Independence day is a reminder of the power of our ancestors that we are building on through sharing Filipino food. As a globalized population but not a recognized nationality, we wish to be part of the many others giving a voice to this history and creating the future of what it means to be Filipino.