How do Filipinos celebrate their country’s independence? Can one witness massive festivities in red, white, yellow, and blue – just like how America celebrates the 4th of July? Or are celebrations increasingly becoming more low-key, offering numerous opportunities for patriotic fervor? Whatever the case, Philippine Independence Day offers an interesting look into the nation’s relatively short yet tumultuous history, colorful traditions, as well as the attitudes of Filipinos towards their country.
More than a century has passed since the Philippines was declared free, sovereign from the 333-year long rule of Spain by their very first President Emilio Aguinaldo. Much has certainly changed, as Filipinos continue to reap the benefits of independence, and democracy achieved decades before. Today, celebrations are splintered, ranging from serious political ceremonies, to more lighthearted online tributes to Philippine history. Here’s a look at some of them.
The Perks of Being A National Holiday
More than just a day without school or work, Independence Day is also increasingly becoming a holiday of public goodwill and tourism promotion. For instance, Filipinos can take advantage of free train and bus rides offered by the country’s metro and private bus systems, activities by the country’s cultural and historical organizations, as well as discounted flights to promote domestic travel.
Traditional Government Rites
All around the country, government officials honor Independence Day with numerous official rites, especially in places considered to be historically significant, including Aguinaldo’s hometown of Kawit, Cavite, where President Rodrigo Duterte held his very first Independence Day speech, as well as Rizal Park in Manila, a monument to National Hero Jose Rizal.
This year, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines also unveiled their theme for the country’s 120th Independence Day celebrations, titled, Kalayaan 2018: Pagbabagong Ipinaglaban, Alay sa Masaganang Kinabukasan, which roughly translates to Independence 2018: Change Fought For, Offered For A More Prosperous Future.
Bringing History and Heritage to Overseas Communities
Independence Day is also a way to bridge the over 10 million overseas Filipinos to their country’s history and heritage. From the heart of New York City, to Dubai, to Norway, communities celebrate with grand parades, flag rites, as well as cultural and culinary events.
#RP612FIC: History-Inspired Memes Taking Over Twitter
Filipino internet culture likes to poke fun at anything and everything, not sparing even the most serious events in the country’s history. One phenomenon that’s emerged recently is the #RP612Fic trend, which literally stands for “Republic of the Philippines, June 12, Fiction”.
Philippine heroes/heroines looking at the country's current progress: #rp612fic pic.twitter.com/da29i6bUxi
— #OustDuterte #DefendUP (@nathaadecoco_) June 12, 2018
Teacher: Enumerate Jose Rizal’s girlfriends
Me: #RP612Fic pic.twitter.com/b9vHwZm7ce
— xiii (@alyssashimii) June 12, 2018
By now a yearly trend on Twitter, it has many Filipinos coming up with some of the most creatively witty memes tying together the country’s history with current politics and popular culture. With its popularity, even Netflix has come onboard.
So no one told you life was gonna be this way 👏👏👏👏 #RP612Fic pic.twitter.com/dDnlqvMJhr
— Netflix Philippines (@Netflix_PH) June 12, 2018
While Philippine Independence Day has yet to be held on the scale of countries like the U.S and Singapore (the country’s centenary celebrations in 1998 come close), it remains a revered and at the same time humored occasion, reminding Filipinos about how they as a nation finally came to be.