MANILA – On this day and month in 1946, or exactly 75 years ago, the Filipino people got their long-desired independence from the United States of America and since then officially became the Republic of the Philippines or RP.

According to the book "The American Half-Century (1898-1946)" in the Philippines, published by Lewis E. Gleeck Jr. and New Day Publishers (Quezon City) in 1998, "the American regime in the Philippines actually endured somewhat less than 48 years, and the period during which it could be accurately described as a typical colonial regime lasted only 15 of these years."

During the American occupation of the Philippines (1898-1946), the Filipinos were governed by the Commonwealth of the Philippines (since Nov. 15, 1935) and earlier by the Government of the Philippine Islands or P.I., both under the Americans.

A special provision in the 1935 Philippine Constitution (Article XVIII), entitled "The Commonwealth and the Republic," stated:

"The government established by this Constitution shall be known as the Commonwealth of the Philippines. Upon the final and complete withdrawal of the sovereignty of the United States and the proclamation of Philippine independence, the Commonwealth of the Philippines shall thenceforth be known as the Republic of the Philippines."

Meanwhile, the Philippine Almanac 1998 Centennial Edition, published by the Children's Communication Center and Filway Marketing Inc., said that newly-installed President Manuel A. Roxas and then US High Commissioner to the Philippines Paul V. McNutt, on behalf of US President Harry S. Truman, signed the proclamation of Philippine Independence in ceremonies held on July 4, 1946 at the Luneta grandstand, now Rizal Park, in Manila.

The Gleeck-New Day Publishers' book said McNutt read the proclamation, concluding with Truman's statement: "A nation is born. Long live the Republic of the Philippines. May God bless and prosper the Philippine people and keep them safe and free!"

During the same occasion, the Philippine flag was raised by Roxas on the pole, while McNutt lowered the American flag.

From 1946 onward, the country celebrated its Freedom Day from the US every July 4, until President Diosdado P. Macapagal decided in 1962 to move the date of the celebration to June 12, the day in 1898 when Philippine Revolutionary Gen. Emilio F. Aguinaldo proclaimed Philippine Independence from Spain in his mansion in Kawit, Cavite. Such a declaration, however, did not receive the desired recognition from the US and other countries.

Macapagal signed Proclamation No. 28 effecting the change in the celebration, saying: "The change was justified by the successful celebration in 1962. At least one million people attended, whereas in previous celebrations on July 4, only from two to three hundred thousand came."

In 1964, the Philippine Congress enacted Republic Act No. 4166 formally designating June 12 as the country's Independence Day. (PNA)