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Have you heard of Philippine Independence Day?


Performers hold Philippine flags during the Independence Day celebrations in Manila, 2010. (Cheryl Ravelo/Retuers)

Philippine Independence Day happens on June 12 every year. It's a holiday where Filipinos celebrate Independence from Spain, as well as America.

The public holiday celebrates Philippine history, freedom and culture. They hang up the flag in most public places and take a day off.

Sometimes there's even a parade. That might be a little different this year because of the pandemic and could be virtual instead.

Celebrating Philippines' heroes

a stone monument to José Rizal

Honour guards stand beside the monument to Philippine national hero José Rizal in Manila. (Cheryl Ravelo/Reuters)

During Independence Day, they remember the amazing heroes who fought for independence against Spain. They fought for freedom against Spanish rule right at the end of the 19th century.

The two most famous heroes of this time were Andres Bonifacio and José Rizal. Both are considered national heroes by different groups.

José Rizal was a medical student and writer who spoke over 20 languages. His writings and books inspired Filipino nationalism (support for your nation).

Andres Bonifacio was the “Father of the Philippine Revolution.” He led a lot of successful campaigns against Spain to gain independence for the Philippines.

American Independence Day times two?

dancers dressed to look like they are wearing tribal costumes

Performers dance during a street dancing parade as part of Independence Day celebrations in Manila, 2007. (Cheryl Ravelo/Reuters)

Spain had colonized (settled in and took control of) the Philippines for almost 350 years. The country was also colonized by America.

And America even assigned the country its first Independence Day on July 4. That's the same day as American Independence Day.

It was very strange for a country to share an Independence Day with its colonizer. So in 1962, President Diosdado Macapagal changed the country's Independence day to June 12. And June 12 became the Philippines’ very own Independence Day.

The Philippine flag

the official flag of the Philippines with description below in the text

The national flag of the Philippines, 1998-present.

The Philippine flag has a very unique look to it. It has three golden stars and a sun on a red, blue and white background:

  • The three stars represent the Philippines’ three major island regions — Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
  • The sun and its eight rays represent the eight major provinces that took part in the revolution.

In the days leading up to Independence Day, many places in the Philippines hang their flag everywhere. But you can’t just hang it up any way you want.

Make sure to fly the flag the right way

a group of people wave a bunch of Philippine flags

Performers wave Philippine flags during the Independence Day celebrations in Manila, 2011. (Cheryl Ravelo/Reuters)

  • When you hang the flag vertically, the blue side should be on your left. The red side should be on your right. And the white part should be at the top.
  • When you fly it horizontally, the blue side should always be on top. The red side should be at the bottom. And the white part should be closest to the pole.

There's a reason this is so important. If you flip the flag over, with red on the left or on top that means the country is at war!

So make sure to keep the blue side up and left for peacetime.