On July 4, 1946, the United States formally recognized the independence of the Republic of the Philippines. This was the culmination of the process that began in 1916, when the Jones Law pledged the eventual recognition of Philippine independence, and the Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1933, which provided for a ten-year transitional period to prepare for independence. The independence of the Philippines was marked by Manuel Roxas retaking his oath as President of the Philippines, eliminating the pledge of allegiance to the United States required prior to independence. Independence thereafter was celebrated on July 4th of every year until 1962.
In 1962, President Diosdado Macapagal issued Proclamation No. 28, s. 1962, effectively moving the date of Philippine independence from July 4 to June 12—the date independence from Spain was proclaimed in Emilio Aguinaldo’s home in Kawit, Cavite. In his proclamation, President Macapagal cited “the establishment of the Philippine Republic by the Revolutionary Government under General Emilio Aguinaldo on June 12, 1898, marked our people’s declaration and exercise of their right to self-determination, liberty and independence.”
Macapagal adopted the view of historians and many political leaders, that the foundation date of the nation should be June 12, since July 4 was the restoration of that independence. Indeed, in 1941, Flag Day, observed in October since 1919, when the Philippine Flag was once again permitted to be displayed, was moved to June 12, in recognition of the importance of June 12 when independence was proclaimed, and the national flag and anthem formally presented to the Filipino people.
Thereafter, the Congress of the Philippines passed Republic Act No. 4166 in 1964, formally designating June 12 of every year as the date of Philippine independence. The date commemorates the anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence, because the date remains the foundation date for the modern, independent Republic of the Philippines and of our independent nationhood, as recognized by the world community. From 1964 until the 1984, Philippine Republic Day was celebrated as a national holiday.
The origin of Philippine–American Friendship Day dates to 1955, when President Ramon Magsaysay, by virtue of Proclamation No. 212, s. 1955, established the observance of “Philippine American Day,” every November 15, anniversary of the inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines.
Sometime during the Marcos administration, Philippine–American Day was renamed Philippine–American Friendship Day and moved to July 4, overshadowing the observance of the date as Philippine Republic Day. Since the Third Republic and the 1935 Constitution were discarded by Martial Law, it was impolitic to remind the public of the old republic. This is why, when President Marcos issued Presidential Proclamation No. 2346 s. 1984, reference was made only to Philippine–American Friendship Day, which was relegated to a working holiday.
During the administration of President Corazon C. Aquino, the practice of celebrating Philippine–American Friendship Day and Philippine Republic Day as a non-working holiday was formally abolished. The Administrative Code of 1987 specified a list of non-working holidays that did not include July 4.
In 1996, President Fidel V. Ramos would once again commemorate the anniversary of Republic Day through Proclamation No. 811, s. 1996, not with a holiday but public celebrations to commemorate 50 years of independence. Last year, the Philippines marked the 60th Anniversary of the Republic of the Philippines and of our independence. On June 12, however, the country observes the anniversary of the proclamation of the independence that was lost after the defeat of the First Republic, and restored in 1946.