We're on the cusp of the rainy season here. Mango trees in the neighborhood are laden with yellow-orange fruit. Some afternoons are simply hot, somnolent; others, made dark by low-hanging clouds, are punctuated with the distant burblings and closeby (or overhead) rattapallax of lightning storms. About three quarters of Cabanatuan's yearly rain falls in the second half of June, July, August, and the first half of September. The city receives on average 73 inches of rain per year (Boston receives 42 inches), so these hundred-odd days are very wet indeed. Right about now is the time to make sure one has a sturdy umbrella as well as a backup umbrella!
Independence Day in the Philippines, June 12, commemorates the day in 1898 when Emilio Aguinaldo and several other revolutionary leaders proclaimed the islands to be a free and sovereign state no longer under Spanish rule. Then, of course, thanks to American machinations, it all fell apart. Behind the backs of the revolutionary leaders the United States paid Spain 20 million dollars, and Spain ceded the archipelago to the U.S.: Filipinos found themselves in the thrall of yet another colonial power. Near the end of his instructions to his emissaries in the Philippines at the close of the Spanish-American war, President McKinley wrote, "Incidental to our tenure in the Philippines is the commercial opportunity to which American statesmanship cannot be indifferent. It is just to use every legitimate means for the enlargement of American trade." England had Singapore and Hong Kong. France had much of Indochina. Now the U.S. had its own foothold in the Far East.
Many back in America, among them William Jennings Bryan and Mark Twain, were strident in their protest against a land grab they considered to be most illegitimate. The Filipino revolutionaries, for their part, fought a short and futile war against the American expeditionary force. And for the next forty years of American "older brother" rule, and five years of very unpleasant Japanese rule, the Filipino people waited for the chance to govern themselves.
Ah, I was going to write a few words about the upcoming holiday and descended into thumbnail history! Anyway, the sloughing off of one colonial power, and the declaration of a new state, were deemed to be the crucial turnaround in Filipino aspirations; the proclamation read at Aguinaldo house in Kawit, Cavite at the entrance to Manila Bay on June 12, 1898, would mark Independence Day in the Philippines, it was decided. U.S. politicians determined that the Treaty of Manila, in which the U.S. relinquished control of the islands to the Filipino people in 1946, would be signed on July 4; Filipino politicians had the chance of sharing an independence day with America, but they would have none of that.
The flag of the Philippines, first unfurled on that June day in 1898, is out in abundance now. . . . There are no festivities, however, and there were none last year, thanks to the Covid pandemic.