Filipino-American Friendship Day

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The Filipino-American Friendship Day, July 4, is a day in the Philippines designated by President Fidel V. Ramos to commemorate the liberation of the country by joint Filipino and American forces from the Japanese occupation at the end of World War II.

Historical Premise

As the Spanish-American war ended, the city of Manila was surrendered to the United States through the signing of the Treaty of Paris on 10 December 1898. The United States announced on 22 that the destruction of the Spanish fleet and the surrender of Manila had practically effected the conquest of the Philippine Islands and the suspension of the Spanish sovereignty therein, and that by the treaty of peace the future control, disposition, and government of the Islands had been ceded to the country. On 2 March 1901, the Spooner amendment to the Army Appropriation Bill was passed, providing that “all military, civil, and judicial powers necessary to govern the Philippine Islands shall until otherwise provided by Congress be vested in such person and persons, and shall be exercised in such manner, as the President of the United States shall direct, for the establishment of civil government, and for maintaining and protecting the inhabitants of said Islands in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property, and religion.

Jones Law

On 29 August 1916, the United States promulgated the Philippine Autonomy Act (or the Jones Law), on the premise that “(1) it was never the intention of the people of the United States in the incipiency of the war with Spain to make it a war of conquest or for territorial aggrandizement; (2) it is, as it has always been, the purpose of the people of the United States to withdraw their sovereignty over the Philippine Islands and to recognize their independence as soon as a stable government can be established therein; and (3) “for the speedy accomplishment of such purpose it is desirable to place in the hands of the people of the Philippines as large a control of their domestic affairs as can be given them without, in the meantime, impairing the exercise of the rights of sovereignty by the people of the United States, in order that, by the use and exercise of popular franchise and governmental powers, they may be the better prepared to fully assume the responsibilities and enjoy all the privileges of complete independence.”

Tydings-McDuffie Act

On 24 March 1934, the Philippine Independence Act, or the Tydings-McDuffie Act, was promulgated; setting the foundation for a Commonwealth government in the Philippines, and setting the timeline for the withdrawal and surrender of all right of possession, supervision, jurisdiction, control, or sovereignty then existing and exercised by the United States in and over the territory and people of the Philippine Islands on the 4th of July, 10 years from the inauguration of such Commonwealth government. On 14 May 1935, the 1935 Constitution of the Philippines was ratified; fixing therefore the promised independence of the Philippines by 4 July 1946.

World War II

World War II erupted in Asia and Japan invaded western colonies in the Southeast Asian region, including the Philippines. General Douglas McArthur and his key USAFFE staff were driven out of the country in 1942, forcing US Maj. Gen. Edward P. King to surrender Bataan and Corregidor. Japan completely controled the country until the return of Allied forces at Leyte Gulf on 20 October 1944. The Philippines was largely back under Allied control by 17 April 1945. The Pacific War ended 15 August 1945, when Japan surrendered in light of the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the USSR’s invasion of Manchuria. On 4 July 1946, the United States recognized the independence of the Philippines, upon the signing of the Treaty of General Relations between the US and the Philippines.

Change of Date

Initially, from 1946 to 1964, the Philippine Independence Day holiday (Araw ng Kalayaan) was observed on 4 July, coinciding with the Independence Day celebrations of the United States. On 4 August 1964, however, President Diosdado Macapagal, through Republic Act 4166, moved the holiday to the date on which the Philippines had declared independence from Spain in 1898, thus changing the date of the Philippine Independence Day from July 4 to June 12. Meanwhile, he declared July 4 as Philippine Republic Day.

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