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.

TikTok Made Me Buy It: Flawless's Skincare Fridge

I bought and tested one of TikTok's popular products so you don't have to.


I spend a lot of time on TikTok and I never know whether the products I see are worth it or not, especially when I'm looking at the price. For Christmas, my aunt got me a gift card to Ulta. I didn't know what to buy. I have way too many palettes and lipsticks. I have my essentials. What else could I need? Then it hit me that I saw a lot of people these past few months showing off their skincare fridges. So, the second I thought of it I went on the Ulta app and bought it. So, here are my thoughts.

Keep Reading... Show less

37 Cute And Unique Pinterest Board Titles

Let's be real, the hardest part about Pinterest is thinking of a cute title for your board.


I don't know about anyone else but I have recently become re-obsessed with Pinterest. Like, I am spending a stupid amount of time on Pinterest daily now. While I have been binging Pinterest I have found that I love making cute and aesthetic boards but it is SO hard to come up with a name to match it. So, I scoured the internet and my brain for you. Happy pinning!

Keep Reading... Show less

This Is What Type Of Person You Are Based On Your Favorite Cereal

Your cereal preference reveals more than you think.

Photo by Nyana Stoica on Unsplash

Whether you eat cereal for breakfast or a late-night snack, you probably have a favorite. Little did you know that what you prefer says a lot about your personality.

Keep Reading... Show less
Alexis Hoffman

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we all know that cutting out social interaction has taken its toll.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Asked Instagram How 2020 Was, And Maybe It Wasn't The Worst Year Ever

2020 is a year to remember but it's not as bad as we made it out to be.


It's finally 2021 and we're honestly all just happy that 2020 is over. I decided to ask my Instagram followers how they felt about 2020 and the results were a little more mixed up than expected.

Keep Reading... Show less

Ever since I watched "How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days," I've been a major Matthew McConaughey fan. I've seen most of his movies, and I definitely got way too excited when he finally made an Instagram! So when he announced he would be releasing a memoir titled "Greenlights," I knew I absolutely had to get my hands on this book. And so did the rest of the world, as the book began to flood social media.

Truthfully, I would much rather read a fiction book and dive into another world than read a nonfiction book - even if it is one of my favorite celebrities. But I had a feeling this book wouldn't disappoint or bore.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Armie Hammer Scandal Discourse Is Kink Shaming And Harming Actual Victims

The rumors surrounding Armie Hammer has resulted in some very toxic and harmful discourse.


Sex is something that occupies a very significant place in our lives. Even asexual people can have an active sex life. With the various types of people that comprise this world, it obviously results in various sexual interests. And unconventional people can engage in some pretty unconventional sex practices. Even the most conventional people on the surface might surprise us with their sexual fantasies.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments