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The Filipino nation from ‘this day commences to have a life of its own’

June 11, 2019

IN these noble words, our people proclaimed to the whole world our national independence.

So, it shocks and dismays us to note that to this day, in the 21st century, there are still those among us who have not fully accepted or recognized the fact our people proclaimed their independence on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite.

These compatriots remain skeptical about Kawit. They absurdly suggest that independence should be reckoned instead from July 14, 1946, the date when the United States recognized the Philippines as an independent republic. By this reckoning, we would only be 75 years independent on the fourth of July next month.

We are not a disinterested observer on this matter. The Manila Times was founded on Oct. 11, 1898, just a few months after Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s proclamation of Philippine independence.

The specific trigger for the publishing event was the news received by the publisher that the treaty of Paris between the US and Spain would be signed, ending the Spanish-American war, and transferring the Philippines from Spanish to American sovereignty.

With respect to the proclamation of independence itself, history at the time was still in flux. The islands would erupt again in conflict, this time between the US and the new República Filipina. This circumstance alone confirms in no uncertain terms the credentials of June 12, 1898 as the true birth date of the Philippine republic.

For a compelling and convincing account of the independence proclamation and its surpassing meaning to the Filipino people and the Philippines, we urge readers to read Dr. Onofre Corpuz’s narration of events in his indispensable two-volume history of the Philippines, The Roots of the Filipino Nation (Aklahi Foundation, Manila, 1989).

O.D. Corpuz, as he is fondly remembered by many, surpassed even himself with this history. He relates the circumstance and sequence of events that led to the independence proclamation in Kawit.

Aguinaldo returned to Manila from Hong Kong on May 19, 1898. Before landing, he had a meeting with Cmdre. George Dewey onboard the latter’s ship. Aguinaldo’s report on this conference was that everything appears “favorable for attaining our independence.”

Two days later, Aguinaldo announced that the Philippine revolution would resume at noon on May 31. He enjoined his comrades to win over their countrymen who had enlisted in the militia. He instructed all to conduct the war properly.

On May 24, he issued four important decrees. The fourth was signed by him as the dictator. He announced that the Biak-na-Bato Republic, which he established the year before, had come to an end.

On June 12,1898 in Kawit, the Act of the Proclamation of the Independence of the Filipino People was read in public. Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista, member of the Comite de Reformadores way back in 1869, was assigned the honor of reading it. Aquinaldo presided over the ceremonies.

The proclamation declared that the Filipinos “are and have the right to be free and independent,” and that the nation from “this day commences to have a life of its own.”

The document contained 98 signatures. Aguinaldo’s was not on it, but it included that of one American. There was a discordant note and fateful misjudgment in the proclamation. This was the inexplicable passage, which said that the Filipinos were “under the protection of the mighty and humane North American nation.”

On June 18, Aguinaldo issued a decree for the organization of pueblo or town governments across the country.

The miscalculation of America consisted of this: While the June 12 proclamation was being read, two US army expeditions were steaming across the Pacific en route to Manila. The US mission was now to occupy the archipelago. From here, it was inevitable that the US forces and Filipino revolutionary forces would be driven into an open and bitter conflict with each other.

Filipinos would have to fight again for their national independence. In these life-and-death circumstances, who is the Filipino who will still deny June 12 as the authentic birth date of Philippine independence?

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net


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