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How July 4 Became a Working Holiday

The Philippines is a former U.S. colony.
by Ara Eugenio
Jul 4, 2022
July 4, 1946: In ceremonies held in the temporary Independence Grandstand (built in front of the Rizal Monument), the Philippine flag is raised while the U.S. flag is lowered. The flagpole in front of the Rizal Monument is thus known as the Independence Flagpole, commemorating the culmination of the quest for national independence.
Photo/s: Official Gazette

The Philippines and the United States share a complicated history, one that is underscored by the history of July 4, which holds its own significance in the former Southeast Asian colony with its former status as a non-working holiday. 

More popularly known to the world as the U.S. Independence Day, the Philippines recognizes the 4th of July at present as the Philippine–American Friendship Day, but from 1964 until 1984, it was also known as the Philippine Republic Day, a national holiday.

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Here's how the day changed throughout history, according to the Official Gazette:

On July 4, 1946, the U.S. formally recognized the independence of the Philippines as a republic after 48 years of colonization that began in 1898, when it was handed over by Spain.

The establishment of the Republic of the Philippines or the Third Republic was marked by ceremonies all over the country where the American flag was lowered and the Philippine flag was raised to fly alone. 

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Former President Manuel Roxas had re-taken his oath, this time without the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. that was required before. 

Come 1962, the date of Philippine independence would be moved from July 4 to June 12, which used to be celebrated only as Flag Day.

Former President Diosdado Macapagal said in his proclamation that June 12, the day the Philippines was declared independent from Spain by revolutionary forces led by General Emilio Aguinaldo in his home in Kawit, Cavite, "marked our people’s declaration and exercise of their right to self-determination, liberty, and independence.”

Macapagal had adopted the view of historians and political leaders who said the foundation date of the nation should be June 12 and July 4 was merely the restoration of that independence. 

The move also came as a result of the U.S. House of Representatives' rejection of a bill that sought an additional $73 million for the Philippines as reparations for the war. 

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According to President Macapagal, this denial caused “indignation among the Filipinos” and a “loss of American goodwill in the Philippines.”

In Congress, the measure to move the Independence Day date was facing delays, as legislators wanted to retain some significance for July 4. A compromise was reached with the inclusion of the provision that made July 4 "Republic Day" to commemorate still the foundation date of the country's modern republic. 

July 4 lasted as a national holiday from 1964 until 1984, when former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. renamed the Philippine–American Day the "Philippine–American Friendship Day", and moved its celebration to July 4 from Nov. 15.

This effectively overshadowed the observance of the date as Republic Day, The Gazette said, noting: "Since the Third Republic and the 1935 Constitution were discarded by Martial Law, it was impolitic to remind the public of the old republic". 

In his proclamation, Marcos Sr. referred only to July 4 as the Philippine–American Friendship Day and relegated it to a working holiday.

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During former President Corazon Aquino's administration, Malacañang formally scrapped the practice of celebrating July 4 as a non-working holiday, saying there is no reason to celebrate ties of friendship with a former colonial master.

“There is no valid reason for a Philippine-United States Day,” Aquino's spokesman Teodoro Benigno quoted her as saying in a Reuters report.

“We are friends, the United States and the Philippines, but we don’t have to have a holiday for it.”

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