Happy 4th of July, Filipino-American Friendship Day

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As I See It

By ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO

July 4th or 4th of July is Independence Day of the United States of America. While it used to be Philippine Independence Day too, it was changed to Philippine Republic Day and then to Filipino-American Friendship Day! It is a huge event for many Filipino-Americans to rekindle their origin and heritage, remembering their long-standing friendship and relationships even before July 4, 1946.

With the election of Pres. Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte, however, the relationship somehow became sour as Duterte intended to separate from the Obama administration. Then when Pres. Donald Trump was elected president, Digong somehow changed his position and recognized Trump as an ally of the Philippines, even inviting him to visit the Philippines at the end of the year.

It was formerly an official holiday designated as Independence Day, celebrating the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which granted Philippine Independence from the United States of America in 1946. From 1898 to 1946, the Philippines was an American territory. Between 1941 and 1945, the Japanese Empire occupied the country during World War 11 and at that time, the Commonwealth government in exile headed by President Manuel L. Quezon was based in Australia and later in the US.

In October 1944, General MacArthur landed in Leyte, along with Sergio Osmena, who succeeded to the presidency after Quezon’s death in 1944. The country gained complete independence on July 4, 1946 until President Diosdado Macapagal moved the July 4th Philippine Independence to June 12, 1898 on which Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo issued the Philippine Declaration of Independence at his residence in Kawit, Cavite. The July 4th Filipino-American Friendship Day was created in place of the June 12 Independence Day and was kept as a holiday under Macapagal. It coincided with the United States’ own Independence Day, until subsequently, Filipino-American Friendship Day was no longer a national holiday.

It is celebrated here in the US and Americans who are in the Philippines also proclaim their celebration of Filipino-American Friendship on July 4. The celebration is meant to remind us—and Americans—of our two countries’ long-standing friendship. This developed after the forces of the First Philippine Republic were defeated by those of the United States and our archipelago became an American colony. The Philippines and the United States have maintained closeness that some Filipinos call a “special relationship.” We celebrate July 4 as Filipino-American Friendship Day to highlight the enduring relations between the Philippines and the United States. Various factors strengthen these ties, including a shared history and a common commitment to democratic values.

Actually, Filipino-American relations formally began on December 10, 1898, when Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States. Until July 4, 1946, the United States governed the Philippines and transformed it into a “show window of American democracy.” The period of American regime was also the period that witnessed many changes in Filipino life and culture. Public education and democratic institutions are two of America’s many enduring contributions to the Philippines. They built public schools and made English as the medium of instruction from elementary to college. These two contributions molded Filipino-American relations.

The United States is the Philippines’ major trading partner – accounting for almost 20 percent of annual Philippine trade. The United States is home to more than three million Filipino migrants as well as Filipino-Americans who have made America their home.

We celebrate Filipino-American Friendship Day to bring to the awareness of the peoples of the Philippines and the United States and to the rest of the world the numerous beneficial effects generated by mutual trust and friendship among nations – that friendly ties are the foundations of lasting international ties.

According to Alireza Nurbakhsh in her article Friendship, “the act of friendship is different from the act of loving. In a relationship of friendship both parties care for each other and give and receive benefits from each other. This reciprocity may not exist in the act of loving, for we may love someone without our beloved giving anything in return or even knowing that he or she is being loved by us.” Does this apply to relationships among nations? Well, we knew that at the onset of his term as president, Pres. Duterte had sour relationship with the US, most particularly with President Barack Obama. He was very vocal about this. When President Donald Trump became president, Duterte changed his mind… this time saying he likes Trump and the US-Philippine relations was restored. As a sign of friendship, the US, upon the request of the Philippine government, helped logistically in the current Marawi war against the ISIS-inspired group of the Maute Brothers. Duterte thanked the US for their support although he said he didn’t ask for it.

Aristotle was one of the first philosophers to write about the nature of friendship. In hisNicomachean Ethics, he sets forth three main reasons why people become friends with one another. “These reasons are pleasure, utility and good character. Of these, Aristotle believed that only a friendship based on good character can turn out to be a perfect friendship. This is because it is only in such a friendship that one likes or loves the other person for the other person’s sake. In friendship based on pleasure or utility, though we may confer benefit to our friend, our basic motive is to receive benefit for ourselves.”

According to Aristotle, “a true friend is one who not only likes us for who we are but also one who wants what is good for us. Friendship is a relationship of reciprocal goodwill in which each party likes the other party for the other person’s sake, always wanting what is good for the other.”

Independence Day, especially in the US, is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, meet and greet, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, playing golf, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. They culminate their day-long activities with a 15 – 30 minute fireworks display, depending on the sponsoring organization. Finding a parking and leaving the park is always a problem, taking longer hours waiting for the fireworks display, then another hour or so leaving the parking lot, as everybody is rushing home after the fireworks.

As we celebrate America’s birthday on the 4th of July, greetings come from all parts of the globe! We are proud to be Filipino-Americans! Happy 4th of July to all!

San Francisco-based Deputy Consul General Jaime Ramon Ascalon urges all Filipinos to say — Pinoy Ako, Taas Noo!

(For feedbacks, comments… please email the author @ estiokoelpidio@gmail.com).

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