Saturday, June 12, 2021, is Philippines Independence Day, or as locals call it, “Araw ng Kasarinlan” (“Day of Freedom”). This annual national holiday honors Philippine independence from Spain in 1898.

In 2020, many Filipinos celebrated Independence Day online because of social distancing restrictions. This year, more people will enjoy Pinoy dishes with family and friends or attend a festival or parade.

Remitly has helped thousands of Filipinos send money to loved ones around the world. (Our very first customers, Earl and Bert, come from the Philippines!) We’re proud to have an office in Manila, and we wish our Filipino customers, friends, and employees a happy Independence Day!

A Brief History of Philippines Independence Day

On June 12, 1898, General Emilio Aguinaldo raised the Philippines flag for the first time and declared this date as Philippines Independence Day. Marcela Agoncillo, Lorenza Agoncillo, and Delfina Herbosa designed the flag of the Philippines, which is famous for its golden sun with eight rays. The rays symbolize the first eight Philippine provinces that fought against Spanish colonial rule.

After General Aguinaldo raised the flag, the San Francisco de Malabon marching band played the Philippines national anthem, “Lupang Hinirang,” for the first time.

Spain, which had ruled the Philippines since 1565, didn’t recognize General Aguinaldo’s declaration of independence. But at the end of the Spanish-American War in May 1898, Spain surrendered and gave the U.S. control of the Philippines.

In 1946, the American government wanted the Philippines to become a U.S. state like Hawaii, but the Philippines became an independent country. The U.S. granted sovereignty to the Philippines on July 4, 1968, through the Treaty of Manila.

Filipinos originally celebrated Independence Day on July 4, the same date as Independence Day in the U.S. In 1962, President Diosdado Macapagal changed the date to June 12 to commemorate the end of Spanish rule in the country.

5 Facts About Philippines Independence Day Celebrations

1. Fireworks and patriotic ceremonies.

Fireworks and patriotic celebrations happen across the world on June 12, but some Philippine embassies and consulates hold flag-raising ceremonies to honor independence as early as May.

2. Dinner with the family.

Many Filipino families gather around dinner tables and have a large feast to celebrate the holiday. Popular foods include national dishes like adobo and regional cuisine like bopis, which comes from the Batangas region.

3. Large celebrations.

Manila hosts the largest Independence Day celebrations with a series of parades and food festivals in the week leading up to June 12. In 2018, a major civil-military parade to celebrate 120 years of independence attracted thousands of visitors.

4. Raising a flat in Kawit.

Every year on June 12, the city of Kawit, Cavite, raises a flag at Aguinaldo Shrine, General Aguinaldo’s burial place. Local officials read out the 120-page Proclamation of Independence.

5. It is the world’s biggest celebration of Filipino culture.

Philippines Independence Day is the world’s biggest celebration of Filipino culture. In many Filipino communities, people attend local commemorative events, make Philippine flags at home, and dress up in costumes inspired by their region or tribe. Some people sing Filipino folksongs.

Philippines Independence Day Celebrations in 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic restricted many of the Independence Day customs that take place every year on June 12. However, Filipino communities still celebrated independence online. The Philippine Consulate of New York, for example, organized a virtual Independence Day event on Facebook. (Remitly took part in the celebrations!)

Everything You Need to Know About Philippine Independence Day 2021

  • This year marks 123 years of the Philippines’ independence from Spanish rule.
  • The 2021 Philippine Independence Day Parade takes place in New York on Sunday, June 6. The parade will line Madison Avenue and raise funds for nonprofit organizations in the Philippines and U.S.
  • Many Filipino-owned business owners will close their doors early so they can enjoy the celebrations.

Further Reading: 12 Popular Filipino Foods that Every Filipino Will Recognize

About Remitly

As we approach Philippine Independence Day, some Filipinos still can’t travel to see family and friends because of COVID-19 restrictions. So Remitly is here if you need to send money to the Philippines or over 100 countries quickly and safely.

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