June 12, 2010

Independence Day – Philippines

On July 4, 1946, the Philippines became an independent country.

So why is June 12 celebrated as Independence Day?

Like so many aspects of history, it's complicated. Basically, the Philippines, an island nation in eastern Asia, declared its independence from Spain on June 12, 1898. But Spain ceded the Philippines to the U.S. (for 20 million dollars) at roughly the same time, and the U.S
. didn't accept the Philippines as independent.
U.S.: “Hey, we own you—we bought you for $20 million.”

Philippines: “We didn't sell ourselves to you—and you sure never paid us $
20 million!”

U.S.: “No, we bought you from Spain! We gave THEM the $20 million.”

Philippines: “We weren't Spain's to sell!”

U.S.: “Yeah you were. Spain owned you as a colony.”

Philippines: “No. We own ourselves. We are independent.”
A war of independence was fought, but this particular revolutionary war didn't pan out for liberty. The Philippines lost, and the U.S. controlled the islands.

In 1935 work was begun to give the Philippines indep
endence (about time!!!), but World War II interrupted the process, and an enormous amount misery occurred in the Philippines: the Japanese invasion, war crimes, the Bataan Death March, the Manila Massacre.

Eventually, of course, the Allies (including the U.S.) won, the Japanese lost, and the Philippines were finally finally FINALLY recognized as an independent country.

After all of that, Filipinos recognize as their national Independence Day the date they declared
their independence, not the date it was finally granted by others. This is actually pretty typical. For example, the U.S. Independence Day honors the date that the 13 colonies declared independence from England (July 4, 1776), not the date that England formally accepted it (September 3, 1783).

Islands, islands, everywhere...

I mentioned before that the Philippines is an island nation. Actually, it is an archipelago, which means a chain or cluster of islands formed through tectonic (volcanic) forces. The Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands!!!

Which of these countries, like the Philippines, are most
ly archipelagos?
China * Japan * New Zealand * Mexico * United Kingdom * France * Australia * Indonesia * Korea

ANSWER: Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Indonesia

Living things everywhere...

The Philippines is one of the most bio-diverse areas in the world—in other words, it has a lot of different species of plants and animals, especially considering its relatively small size.

(The country is only the 71st largest in the world, and of course its landmass is divided up among thousands of different islands. Because it is made up of islands, it has the fifth longest coastline in the world.)

One of the interesting creatures that lives in the ocean surrounding the Philippines is the dugong. This marine mammal is closely related to the manatee. Both creatures are somewhat walrus shaped, and both eat plants. The dugong
is dependent on sea grass and therefore hangs out in the shallowest parts of the ocean where rivers make shelves of land around the islands.
  • Can you spot the biggest physical difference between a manatee and a dugong?

Pictured left is a manatee.

Pictured right is a dugong.

ANSWER: The manatee has a rounded, paddle-like tail, but the dugong has a tail that is shaped like a dolphin's tail.
  • Here is a jigsaw puzzle of a much cuter mammal from the Philippines: a tarsier.
  • Speaking of jigsaw puzzles, did you ever see a 24,000-piece puzzle? This puzzle fan from the Philippines solved one in a little more than 233 hours.

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