I’m one of the very few Americans who greet everyone with “Happy Independence Day!” on July 4th rather than the very common “Happy 4th of July!” that most people would usually greet. Because, if you’re aware of your own country’s history1, the purpose of celebrating July 4th is to celebrate America’s independence from the former mother country, England, 237 years ago.2
There were some people who did ask me, or even wonder, why I never say “Happy 4th of July!” It’s not because I want to be “precisely correct,” but because America isn’t the only country in which July 4th exists, or rather, celebrated. In fact, there was this really old segment from The Tonight Show in which Jay Leno went around the streets to interview the public regarding the question of “We have a 4th of July here in America. Is there a 4th of July everywhere else around the world?” You’d be seriously surprised with what most people answered. However, if you naturally have common sense or one of the witty, you should already know the answer to this.3
Back in the old country,4 July 4th is also an important holiday. In fact, July 4th should have been the real Independence Day from the Philippines. It was the day in which the Philippines had become fully independent from foreign rule. The reason why June 12th became the Independence Day for the Philippines so that it doesn’t coincide with the American Independence Day of July 4th. Instead, they refer July 4th as Philippine Republic Day and/or Philippine-American Friendship Day. June 12th is merely the Philippines’ Day of Independence from the 300+ colonial rule of Spain when in fact, the Philippines became independent from Spain because of Spain’s loss to the Americans during the Spanish-American War. As a result of the loss, Spain had to give up both the Philippines and Cuba to the U.S. In short? The Philippines was still colonized by foreign powers, except it’s the U.S. at that time, no longer Spain. The Philippines became a U.S. colony from 1898 until 1946 and did not become a fully independent nation until the the Japanese surrendered to the Americans which marked the official end of the WWII. The day in which the Philippines finally declared independence from the Americans was also the day the Americans started celebrating their own independence: July 4th. It was only fitting, but probably somewhat humiliating for the colonists back then. Still.
The sad part about July 4th in the Philippines is that it’s somewhat forgotten by most of the Filipinos living in the Philippines today. In fact, it’s not even a non-working holiday over there anymore. It used to be a holiday for us when I was growing up there, but from what I read, the administration under President Corazon Aquino were the ones responsible for making July 4th over there as a non-working holiday. I’m pretty sure those who have lived through the turbulent history of the Philippines being a colony by three foreign powers5 must have been really upset. Hell, I was upset. I’ve never seen any of my Pinoy friends on FB acknowledging July 4th on their wall posts and it somewhat upsets me that they have forgotten the importance behind July 4th. I’m not bashing on the June 12th independence day, however, if I see or hear one single Pinoy from there saying “Oh, July 4th is not as important as June 12th,” believe me. It’s as important of a day as it is on June 12th. In fact, it’s a whole lot more important than June 12th.
If I were going to be precisely correct about this, I would’ve said “Happy Independence Day from Spain, Philippines!” in reference to June 12th, and then I would just say “Happy Independence Day, Philippines and America!” in reference to July 4th. I guess now you can probably see why I never say “Happy 4th of July!” Some of you may probably be thinking “Wow, I didn’t know that July 4th is also an important holiday somewhere else other than the U.S.!”, and if some of you are skeptics, I suggest you do your research. You can start off with Wikipedia and delve deeper through both Philippine history and American history sites. They’re both indicated in there.
Oh, and on an unrelated sidenote: The Philippine government did another unthinkable when they declared that the new official spelling of Pilipinas is “Filipinas.” Plenty of my relatives and friends in the Philippines are shocked and pissed off for changing the P to an F. If you’re a history buff like me, “Filipinas” is the official Spanish spelling of the Philippines. The country used to be called “Las Islas Filipinas” during the Spanish colonial rule. It began to make me wonder what was the point of celebrating June 12th (Philippine independence day from Spain) if they’re only going to revert the spelling back to its old Spanish ways.
Anyway, end of a rant-ish entry. In any case, Happy Independence Day, America!
On the sidenote...
- this is referring to my fellow Americans, of course. [↩]
- If you’re epic fail at your U.S. history, it’s 1776. [↩]
- If the 4th of July doesn’t exist at other parts of the world, then what would you call the day between the 3rd of July and the 5th of July in the calendar…? [↩]
- Philippines [↩]
- Spain, U.S., and briefly Japan. [↩]