top of page

The Path to Freedom

June 12, 1898






For over 300 years the Philippines was under Spanish rule. After several attempts at insurrection from Spain, a full-blown revolution began in 1896 led by Andres Bonifacio. On June 12, 1898, prior to the formal conclusion of the Spanish-American war, Filipino revolutionary forces under General Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed the sovereignty and independence of the Philippine Islands from the colonial rule of Spain.

This independence would not last long for shortly thereafter, the Philippines was at war with the United States. The declaration was not recognized by the United States or Spain, and was not generally recognized by other nations. The Spanish government ceded the Philippines to the United States in the 1898 Treaty of Paris, in consideration for an indemnity for Spanish expenses and assets lost. The Philippines lost the war and for almost 50 years was under American rule. On July 4, 1946, the United States finally granted the Philippines its independence.

For many years, Independence Day was celebrated on July 4, the same day that the American people marked their independence. In 1962, President Diosdado Macapagal changed Philippine Independence Day to June 12. It was a tribute to the day Aguinaldo proclaimed Philippine Independence in 1898.

The Philippines

A Cosmopolitan Heritage​

JP Paredes



The Philippines is a country in Southeast Asia that comprises 7,107 islands with a total land area of approximately 300,000 square kilometers (116,000 square miles) slightly larger than Arizona. With a population of 100 million  suspected to have been reached between 2010 and 2012, it is the 12th most populous in the world, with 65% or more living in urban areas.

The Philippines is one of two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in Asia - the other being the newly-minted country of East Timor. Of 90% who identify themselves as Christians, 81% are Roman Catholic, 5% are Protestant, and 4% are from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Iglesia Ni Cristo, Philippine Independent Church, Seventh Day Adventist, United Church of Christ, and other Christian religions combined. The remaining 10% of Filipinos practice Islam (5%), Buddhism (2%), Hinduism (1%), and others (2% Baha'i, Sikhs, animists, no religion, etc.).

The Philippines, named after King Philip II of Spain, became a colony of Spain when, in 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan claimed the islands for Spain, but was actually colonized starting in 1565 by Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi who arrived from Mexico and formed the first European settlements in Cebu. In 1571, the Spaniards established Manila as the capital of the Spanish East Indies.

Filipinos revolted against Spain, culminating in the proclamation of independence on June 12, 1898 in Malolos, Bulacan. Independence was short-lived as Spain ceded the Philippines (along with Cuba, Puerto Rico and Guam) to the United States via the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898 that ended the Spanish-American War.

The Philippine-American War began in 1899 when an American soldier shot, and killed a Filipino soldier at the bridge of San Juan. The war continued until 1913 with about a million Filipino casualties. The Philippines' status as a colony changed when it became the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1935. Plans for independence over the next decade were interrupted by World War II when Japan invaded the Philippines. On July 4, 1946, the Philippines gained independence from the United States.

The Archipelago
The Philippines has three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. These are divided into 17 regions, 80 provinces, 120 cities, 1,511 municipalities, and 42,008 barangays.

Mineral deposits and geothermal energy are abundant. Territorial waters comprise as much as 1.67 million square kilometers of unique and diverse marine life. Rain forests are habitat for more than 530 species of birds, including the Philippine eagle, some 800 species of orchids and about 8,500 species of flowering plants.

The Philippines has an agriculture-based economy but with substantial contributions from manufacturing, mining, remittances from overseas Filipinos, and service industries such as tourism and business process outsourcing. During the Spanish period the economy was dependent on the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade and, during the American period, on trade with the United States. Regarded as the second largest in Asia, next to Japan, in the 1960's, the economy suffered severe setbacks and is now heavily reliant on remittances of foreign currency, surpassing direct foreign investment.

​Ethnic groups
Most Filipinos are an Asian ethnic group known as the Austronesian, a group of Malayo Polynesian-speaking peoples that migrated to the Philippines thousands of years ago from Taiwan, and brought their knowledge of agriculture and ocean-sailing technology. Cultural influences include Islamic, Chinese, Indian and others.

Among the various Philippine ethnic groups descended from them are the Visayans, the Tagalog, the Ilocano, the Moro, the Kapampangan, the Bicolano, the Pangasinense, the Igorot, the Lumad, the Mangyan, the Ibanag, the Badjao, the Ivatan, and the Palawan tribes. The Negritos, Aetas and the Ati, are considered the aboriginal inhabitants of the Philippines, and are estimated to number around 30,000 people (0.03%). Other Filipino ethnic groups include Chinese, Spanish, and American. Foreign immigrants include British, Europeans, Japanese, Korean, Arab, Asian Indian, Indonesian, and others.

Throughout Philippine history, various people of different races and nationalities have intermarried with various Philippine ethnic groups. Their descendants are known as mestizos.

The following main languages are spoken in the Philippines: Tagalog (22 million), Cebuano (20 M), Ilocano (7.7 M), Hiligaynon (7 M), Waray-Waray (3.1 M), Kapampangan (2.9 M), and Chavacano, including Creole (2.5 M). Other major regional languages include Bicolano, Pangasinan, Kinaray-a, Maranao, Maguindanao and Tausug.

Filipino, and English are the official languages under the 1987 Philippine Constitution but about 180 languages and native dialects are spoken. Spanish and Arabic are also recognized as auxiliary languages. Indigenous languages are part of the Borneo-Philippines group of the Malayo-Polynesian language branch of the Austronesian language family. Filipino – or the de facto version of Tagalog - is spoken mainly in Metro Manila and other urban regions.

Cultural Heritage
Philippine culture is a mixture of Eastern and Western cultures. The Hispanic influences in Philippine culture are derived from Spain and Mexico. These influences are most evident in literature, folk music, folk dance, language, food, art, and religion. Spanish settlers introduced Iberian-Mexican customs, traditions, and cuisines. Philippine cuisine is a mixture of Asian and European dishes.

Philippine tradition includes fiestas (or festivals) to commemorate patron saints. One of the most visible Hispanic legacies is the prevalence of Spanish names among Filipinos although a Spanish name does not always denote Spanish ancestry.

Source: Wikipedia and the CIA World Factbook

bottom of page