Philippines – Fall of Colonial Powers – 5

Quest for the Independence of Philippines

Though the United States returned to power in the Philippines, the Filipinos did not want to be under colonial rule indefinitely. Time and again, Filipino leaders went to Washington to demand independence between 1919 – 1934. They constantly tried to make the United States aware that the Philippines would have to be granted independence sooner or later.

It cannot be ignored that the people of Philippines already possessed a certain amount of political awareness. However, with Western education and American ideas seeping into the minds of people, the Filipinos were determined to gain independence. The United States’ liberal policy making and governance led the Filipinos to openly demand their independence. It also helped them in having a broader perspective about justice, equality, democratic form of governance, parliament, etc.

With the culmination of World War II, the United States began the process of leaving the colony of Philippines. Their policies helped the Filipino people gather a much broader perspective on politics and methods of governing their own country.

With that wider experience, the Filipino people were successful in forcing the United States to fulfil its promise of granting independence to the Philippines. Thus, in 1946, the Philippines declared itself as ‘Independent’ and therein emerged the new “Republic of Philippines.”

On July 5, 1946, representatives of the United States of America and of the Republic of the Philippines signed a Treaty of General Relations between the two governments. The treaty provided for the recognition of the independence of the Republic of the Philippines as of July 4, 1946, and the relinquishment of American sovereignty over the Philippine Islands.

Thus in 1946, four centuries of colonial rule in the Philippines came to an end. The Philippines currently celebrates its Independence Day on June 12, the anniversary of Emilio Aguinaldo’s declaration of independence from Spain in 1898. The declaration was not recognised by the United States which, after defeating the Spanish in the Battle of Manila Bay in May that year, acquired the Philippine Islands via the Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish–American War.