The year 1898 was a historic date for the Republic of the Philippines as it marked its independence from Spain. The Philippines have had a long history of being a colony as the nation was first under Spanish rule and then American influence – but also occupied for several years by the Japanese during World War II. After a few failed Spanish attempts to colonize the country starting in 1521 – the first Spanish expedition (led by explorer Magellan) landed in one of the numerous Filipino islands while in search for the route to the so-called ‘Spice Island’ – the Philippines came to be part of the Spanish Kingdom in 1565 with the first successful settlement by the Spanish Crown.
Independence from Spain in 1898 did not mean freedom. The Philippines still had a long way to go to get there. In 1899, after more than 300 years under Spanish rule, the Philippines – following the Spanish American War and the victory of the US –became part of the US. A few months later into 1899, Filipino revolutionaries organized themselves and declared war on the US. The 3-year war that they ended up losing did not, however, shatter the hopes and dreams of Filipinos to see their country become (one day) a free nation. After several years of turmoil and opposition between multiple revolutionary groups and the US, the Philippines were declared independent in 1946.
Since then, Philippine Independence Day has been celebrated in the Philippines but also by Filipinos in several countries all over the world with strong Filipino presence– including Hong Kong where the Filipino community is well-represented (according to estimates, almost 200,000 Filipino nationals are living in Hong Kong and most are working as Foreign Domestic Workers). Philippine Independence Day celebrations are a must-see with flag parades, traditional dances and marches (on the rhythm of the Official March known as ‘Marcha Nacional Filipina’). Be ready to celebrate!