On 12 June 1898, the Philippines through Emilio Aguinaldo declared unilaterally the independence of the Philippines from Spanish control after 333 years of domination then. That celebration of independence was made possible after the American Navy defeated the Spanish Navy during a naval battle at the Manila Bay, months earlier and with the Spanish defeat creates a political vacuum that would decide the fate of the country for the next generations to come. When that vacuum happens, Emilio Aguinaldo, the leading Filipino revolutionary took the opportunity to declare the political independence from Spanish rule.
However, the declaration of independence by Emilio Aguinaldo at Kawit Cavite never gained an international recognition especially from Spain and the United States as the latter decided to take over Manila, two months after Aguinaldo’s unilateral declaration of independence. On 10 December 1898, during the Treaty of Paris when the United States and Spain settled for peace as the latter decided to give up the remaining Hapsburg-era colonies of Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. Cuba gained its independence in 1902, four years after that treaty was signed while Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines was turned over to American control and to gain the Philippines, the United States had to pay Spain with worth of $20 million.
That treaty never gained much popular support from the Filipino people as they fought the Spanish government for the independence and yet the American would just going to inherit what the Spaniards left and to enforce the American rule, the Americans had to fight the tired Filipino revolutionaries which later the Americans won and their control was ensured for the next 44 years.
The American rule in the Philippines formulated on what the real identity of the country as we knew as the Americans decided to continue what the Spanish government left to them by educating the Filipinos but with this time with American values like English language, rule of law legal theology, separation of church and state doctrine, gender equality, and Protestant religion.
That public education system deepened by the Americans created a new bunch of leaders and citizens who were mostly immersed with the American values and these people were the one who lead the country starting from the late period of American rule until the present time.
Why I could say that these people never lead this country into a real economic, political, and social prosperity? because these bunch of people who inherited the fruits of American-led education squandered many opportunities at separate occasions in order for our country and its citizens to live in prosperity that would have meant to real independence supposedly.
When the Americans left from government control of our country in 1946, these bunch of leaders tended to enrich, persecute, and manipulate the ordinary people for their personal privileges as the Americans unfortunately never decided to end the feudal-like hacienda system way back from Spanish era and also these bunch of leaders who raised during the American era decides to continue that system.
That hacienda-based economic system established by the Spanish rulers and maintained by the Americans and post-independence Filipinos in addition to nonsensical economic protectionism against foreign investors in the name of “nationalism” made the country poorer in relative with the rest of the world as other countries who recovered from the damages of WWII more impressively than the Philippines.
Also, the Americans made a mistake of installing their theory of separation of powers where the three branches of the government, the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judiciary are separated to each other and no cooperation is possible especially between the Executive and the Legislative which results to severe political instability of the country many times and occasions as the people who posses on that respective branches tends to pander their own political agenda instead of creating a common goal for political and socio-economic progress of this country.
The Americans made a fatal mistake on transforming the sociocultural transformation by forcing their cultural aspects to the minds of the Filipino people abruptly instead of having to transform our culture gradually like imposing the rugged individualism mentality, the English language, Protestant religion, American sport, and American movies without thinking the real cultural core of the Filipinos which was mostly Hispanic and Catholic culture. That cultural imposition by the Americans distorts the identity of many Filipinos after then and creates the gradual destruction of Filipino identity in the face of global integration by almost absorbing anything American while forgetting the Filipino values.
That distortion of our country at all aspects must be corrected NOW not LATER in order to show to other people from around the world that our Filipino identity is unique not just a carbon-copy from colonial powers. By correcting our distortions, we can gain our real independence