June 12 as Independence Day by Diosdado Macapagal Former President of the Philippines

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June 12 as Independence Day by Diosdado Macapagal Former President of the Philippines "A nation is born into freedom on the day when such a people, moulded into a nation by a process of cultural evolution and sense of oneness born of common struggle and suffering, announces to the world that it asserts its natural right to liberty and is ready to defend it with blood, life, and honor." The promotion of a healthy nationalism is part of the responsibility of the leaders of newly independent nations. After they lay the foundation for economic development, they promote nationalism and spur the search for national identity. This we can do by honoring our distinguished forebears and notable periods in our history. A step we took in this direction was to change the date for the commemoration of Philippine Independence day. When I was a congressman, I formed the opinion that July 4 was not the proper independence day for Filipinos and should be changed to June 12-- the date General Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed the independence of the Filipinos in Kawit, Cavite, in 1898. Having served in the foreign service, I noted that the celebration of a common independence day with the United States on July 4 caused considerable inconvenience. The American celebration dwarfed that of the Philippines. As if to compound the irony, July 4 seemed tantamount to the celebration of Philippine subjection to and dependence on the United States which served to perpetuate unpleasant memories. I felt, too, that July 4 was not inspiring enough for the Filipino youth since it recalled mostly the peaceful independence missions to the United States. The celebration of independence day on June 12, on the other hand, would be a greater inspiration to the youth who would consequently recall the heroes of the revolution against Spain and their acts of sublime heroism and martyrdom. These acts compare favorably with those of the heroes of other nations. In checking the reaction to my plan to shift independence day to June 12, I found that there was virtual unanimity on the desirability of transferring the celebration from July 4. Likewise, there was a preponderant view for choosing June 12 as the proper day. A few suggested January 21, the opening day of the Malolos Congress in 1899, or January 23, when the Malolos Congress, ratifying the independence proclamation of June 12, established a republican system of government. The reason for this view was that the government temporarily by Aguinaldo when he proclaimed independence on June 12 was a dictatorship. There was no difficulty in adhering to June 12, however, because although Aguinaldo Government was a dictatorship in view of the military operations he was then leading, he led in converting it into a republican Government in the Malolos Congress. Moreover, the celebration of independence refers to its proclamation rather than to the final establishment of the government. In the case of America, when independence was proclaimed on July 4, the American Government was still a confederation and it was much later when it finally became a federal government. The historical fact was that the Filipinos proclaimed their independence from foreign rule on June 12. Even the national anthem and the Filipino flag which are essential features in the birth of a nation were played and displayed respectively at the independence proclamation in Kawit. When I became President, I knew that this was the opportunity to take action on what had been in my mind since entering public life. The specific question was when to make the change. The opportunity came when the US House of Representatives rejected the $73 million additional war payment bill on May 9, 1962. There was indignation among the Filipinos. There was a loss of American good will in the Philippines, although this was restored later by the reconsideration of the action of the US lower chamber. At this time, a state visit in the United States had been scheduled for Mrs. Macapagal and me on the initiative and invitation of President John F. Kennedy. Unable to resist the pressure of public opinion, I was constrained to obtain the agreement of Kennedy to defer the state visit for another time. To postpone the state visit, I wrote a letter on May 14, 1962, to Kennedy, which read in part as follows: The feeling of resentment among our people and the attitude of the US Congress negate the atmosphere of good will upon which my state visit to your country was predicated. Our people would never understand how, in the circumstances now obtaining, I could go to the United States and in all honesty affirm that I bear their message of good will. It is with deep regret theredore that I am constrained to ask you to agree to the postponement of my visit to a more auspicious time. On May 28, 1962, Kennedy wrote me explaining the situation on the war damage bill. His letter stated: In the meantime, I must respect your decision that … [Read more...]