THE ROAD TO PHILIPPINES INDEPENDENCE

Initial Nationalist Uprisings: The Philippine Islands were not considered a single territory, as it comprised of several small kingdoms, each with its distinct language and culture. Discovered by Magellan in 1521, and later named after their King Phillip, it remained a Spanish colony for over 300 years. The first stirring of nationalism movements can be traced to 1841, when Father Opolinario de la Cruz led the struggle of the local clergy against the European. He was killed by the Spanish soldiers. Only in 1872 that a strong nationalist movement started, trying to break ties with Spain. This started with a mutiny of Filipino workers and soldiers, in Cavite. The revolt was crushed by the Spanish soldiers. This also led to the execution of three native reformist priests, Fathers Jose Burgos, Mariano Gomez and Jacinto Zamora. The nationalist movement gathered steam after this execution.

The Driving forces for the Revolution: One of the most important nationalist revolutionaries that emerged was Jose Rizal, who established La Liga Filipina or the Philippine League, a peaceful reform group to vitalize the movement towards the countryís Independence. He was arrested for subversive agitations, and exiled to Mindanao and executed. His death on Dec 30, 1896 ignited the popular feelings. A little known member of Liga, Andres Bonifacio peacefully formed a secret society called Katipunan, dedicated to gaining Independence from Spain. Until its exposure by a Spanish priest in Aug 1896, the Katipunan rapidly grew its membership, They desperately fought Spanish troops, but were losing battle after battle, finally retreating to Cavite. Another leader of Katipunan Emilio Agunaldo, a Cavite official turned military leader, defeated the colonial troops. The Katipunan leadership was divided between Bonifacio and Aguinaldo. Eventualy Aguinaldo was elected to be the leader, and Bonifacio withdrew his supporters. Bonifacio was later arrested, tried and executed. The forces of Emilio Aguinaldo, were defeated by December. Nevertheless the following March, the revolutionaries regrouped and established a revolutionary government to succeed the Katipunan. Aguinaldo was chosen the President of the newly declared Philippines. The agreement between Aguinaldo and the Spanish was for him and his government to go to Hong Kong on a voluntary exile.

The Spanish Retreat and the American Takeover: As the relations between Spain and U.S. were strained over Cuba. US declared war on Spain in April 1898, also attacking the Spanish fleet in Philippine, and destroying it. Aguinaldo arrived back in Philippines on May 19, 1898 and resumed command of his rebel forces. On June 12, 1898 he proclaimed independence of the Philippines. Over 12,000 American troops arrived, followed by the surrender of the Spanish troops. The Americans took over Manila, in Aug 13, 1898.. US and Spain signed the treaty of Paris in Dec, 1898 ceding Philippines, Guam and Porto Rico for $20 Million. America established a colonial government run by Filipinos. Hostilities broke out between the rebels and the American forces. According to reports, over 4000 U.S. soldiers and over 20.000 Filipino soldiers were killed and several hundred thousand wounded. Aguinaldo was captured by American forces in 1901.

The Philippines Republic-Freedom at last: First elections of Philippine Assembly was held in July, 1907. Nacionalista Party of Manuel Quezon and Sergio Osmena won elections and continued to dominate the Philippine politics through World War II. A commonwealth of Philippines was established and a date for national Independence was set for July 4, 1946. Meanwhile the Japanese bombed the Pearl Harbor in 1941 and also bombed the Philippines, which was dragged into a war being a U.S. territory. The U.S. army surrendered to the Japanese. This was a setback for the commonwealth of Phillipines. Later in 1945, Philippines was liberated from the Japanese under Douglas Mc Arthur. Manuel Roxas won the election on April 23, 1946, to become the first President of the Republic of the Philippines.

It had been over a century of struggle to gain full Independence . All these heroes gave up their lives or dedicated their lives for this cause. They all had one thing in common, a common vision to see a free democratic Philippine. Some of them did not live to see their dream come true, so on this day the June 12th, the PRDCís mission is to celebrate this solemn occasion as one community united together, remembering the real heroes, and the gift of freedom they bestowed on the great country of Philippines.

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