Today is the National Independence Day in the Philippines. Each year on the 12th of June Filipinos remember and celebrate the Declaration of Independence from Spain in 1898.

But first, let’s go back in time and learn more about Philippines’ history. The islands were discovered by Europeans during the circumnavigation of the globe conducted by the Portuguese Ferdinando Magellano in 1521. In the following years, Spanish explorers organized many expeditions and called the islands Las Islas Filipinas, in honor of King Philip II of Spain. Since then, Spanish colonizers built many villages and settled down in the new territory. The colony of Manila, situated on the east coast of the biggest island of the archipelago, was conquered and proclaimed the Capital City. During the Spanish occupation, the majority of the population was catholicized and today more than 90% of Filipinos are Christians, making it the most Christian country in Asia.

In 1896, after more than three centuries under Spanish domination, the independence movement led by young Filipino intellectuals started to claim autonomy from the foreign power. The United States of America supported the Philippines during the liberation process, defeating the Iberian power. On June 12th, 1898, the Philippines were officially declared independent, giving birth to the First Republic and the first democratic Constitution in Asia.

This year, Independence Day in the Philippines will be commemorated in a different way than usual. Traditional parades and fireworks all over the country will not take place due to the global pandemic. The Filipino government recommended to respect the anti-Covid security norms, such as social distancing and the prohibition of more than 10 people gathering.

Despite this year’s unusual circumstances, Filipino Independence Day represents a special celebration in the hearts of a population that, although geographically divided by water, has long dreamed a future together.

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