The Fourth Of July Isn't Just America's Independence Day, You Know
Start writing a post

The Fourth Of July Isn't Just America's Independence Day, You Know

There are quite a few things that get overlooked when we learn about the 4th of July in school, but this is one that hits closer to home for me and the Filipino people.

The Fourth Of July Isn't Just America's Independence Day, You Know

Today is July 4th, Happy Independence Day!

Wait, you think I mean for America? You see…this isn't exactly the time for celebrating this country's liberation from British rule when it can't even guarantee the freedom of all of its citizens and residents.

I meant Happy Independence Day for the Philippines!

Today is Filipino Republic Day, also called Filipino-American Friendship Day. It's technically our second independence day--the first was on June 12th, 1898, where the Philippines' first president, Emilio Aguinaldo, established the Philippine Declaration of Independence from Spain. However, Spain didn't recognize this declaration and instead ceded the Philippines to the United States in the 1898 Treaty of Paris. (Funny how I learned about the Treaty of Paris in my history classes but no one mentioned that my birth country was given up for that cause… We need more global representation in history classes.)

July 4th, 1946 was the day the United States granted the Philippines "real" independence following World War II. It was considered the official Philippine Independence Day until President Diosdado Macapagal signed a law that designated June 12 as Independence Day instead.

Cool, right? Now, let me teach you a bit more about Filipino culture with 5 things only Filipinos understand:

1. Line Dancing

Does the title "Cha Cha Slide" sound familiar to you? It's one of many songs used for line dancing at Filipino parties. It's one of my favorite things to do at any party--there's nothing like going all out on the dance floor with friends and family! Other popular songs include Earth, Wind, and Fire's "September," "TodoTodo," "Chilly Cha Cha," "Totoy Bibbo," the "Cupid Shuffle" (my personal favorite), "Cotton Eye Joe," the "Electric Slide," and of course, the "Macarena."

Filipino American University Students Association- Line Dancing - September

Filipino American Student Association Line Dancing - FASA 2013 @ Ramapo College of New Jersey

2. Mano po

Like many Asian cultures, respect to elders is of utmost importance in the Philippines. From a very young age, we are taught to mano as a sign of respect and to receive a blessing from those older than us. Pagmamano is a gesture where a younger person takes the right hand of an elder person—like their parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles—and gently touches the back of it to their forehead. The word mano is Spanish for hand, and po is a common Filipino word used as a sign of respect when talking to someone older. This is typically done when you enter an older relative's home or whenever you see them.

An example of the pagmamano of a son to his mother. mano po! | my dad showing respect to my lola (grandma) by ta… | Flickr

3. Po and Opo

Like I mentioned in the last point, po and opo are both common Filipino words used as a sign of respect when speaking to an older person, or customarily from a worker to their customer. This is an important Filipino value. The word po is usually affixed to the end of a phrase or sentence when speaking, and the word opo is used as a gentler, more respectful way of saying "yes" or agreeing with an older person. Respect your elders, kids!

Po & Opo of the Filipinos: Where did it come from?

4. Kamayan

A kamayan is a communal-style Filipino feast where a lot of food is laid out on banana leaves and eaten without utensils. You may ask, what do we use to eat, then? Let me give you a hint… kamay is the Filipino word for hand. The banana leaves cover the whole table that you're eating on, so you can imagine the amount of food that goes on it. It's also seen as a military style of eating, so it's also known as a "boodle fight." My mouth is watering just thinking about it… not only is it a great way of coming together with friends or family, your stomach will definitely leave the table happy!

Doesn't this look delicious? File:Boodle Fight Viands.jpg - Wikipedia

5. Tabo and timba

What's a shower? We've never heard of it. Toilet paper shortage? No problem! The tabo (tubby) and timba (pail) are Filipino bathroom essentials used for cleansing, bathing, and cleaning. Running water is not common in Filipino households; it usually just comes out of the pipes at set times of the day in order to conserve water. You can find a tabo under almost any faucet, ready to collect water whenever it starts flowing! We then use the timba to pour smaller amounts of water for whatever we need it for—it gives a really good massage when you pour water over your head during a bath!

Tabo and Timba. File:P2040236C.JPG - Wikimedia Commons

As a 1st generation Filipino-born American, I hope you can celebrate Filipino Republic Day with us for every 4th of July to come!

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

A Letter To My Heartbroken Self

It will be okay, eventually.

A Letter To My Heartbroken Self

Breakups are hard. There's nothing comparable to the pain of losing someone you thought would be in your life forever. Someone who said all the right things at the right times. Someone who would give you the reassurance you needed, whenever you needed it. And then one day, it just... stops. Something changes. Something makes you feel like you're suddenly not good enough for him, or anyone for that matter.

Keep Reading... Show less

2026: the year the Fifa World Cup Returns to North America

For the first time since 1994 the United States will host a world cup (for men's soccer)

2026: the year the Fifa World Cup Returns to North America
Skylar Meyers

The FIFA World Cup is coming to North American in 2026!

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

An Open Letter to Winter

Before we know it April will arrive.


Dear Winter,

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

6 Questions To Ask Yourself When Cleaning Up Your Room

This holiday break is the perfect time to get away from the materialistic frenzy of the world and turn your room into a decluttered sanctuary.


Cleaning isn’t just for spring. In fact, I find school’s holiday break to be a very effective time for decluttering. You’re already being bombarded by the materialistically-infatuated frenzy of society’s version of Christmas, Hanukah, etc. It’s nice to get out of the claustrophobic avarice of the world and come home to a clean, fresh, and tidy room. While stacking up old books, CDs, and shoes may seem like no big deal, it can become a dangerous habit. The longer you hang onto something, whether it be for sentimental value or simply routine, it becomes much harder to let go of. Starting the process of decluttering can be the hardest part. To make it a little easier, get out three boxes and label them Donate, Storage, and Trash. I'm in the middle of the process right now, and while it is quite time consuming, it is also so relieving and calming to see how much you don't have to deal with anymore. Use these six questions below to help decide where an item gets sorted or if it obtains the value to stay out in your precious sanctuary from the world.

Keep Reading... Show less

Why I Don't Write (Or Read) An "Open Letter To My Future Husband/Wife"

Because inflated expectations and having marriage as your only goal are overrated.

Urban Intellectuals

Although I have since changed my major I remember the feverish hysteria of applying to nursing school--refreshing your email repeatedly, asking friends, and frantically calculating your GPA at ungodly hours of the night. When my acceptance came in I announced the news to friends and family with all the candor of your average collegiate. I was met with well wishes, congratulations, and interrogations on the program's rank, size, etc. Then, unexpectedly, I was met with something else.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments