Stronger PH-US ties as both nations mark ‘Friendship Day’

Published July 4, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Manila Bulletin

Today, July 4, is Philippine-American Friendship Day. In the United States, it is a federal holiday known as the Fourth of July, which marks the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
The ties that bind the Philippines and the US are historical, cultural, and familial. On the historical aspect, it was on July 4, 1946 when the US recognized the independence of the Philippines. According to the Official Gazette, “Philippine independence was marked by Manuel Roxas retaking his oath as president, eliminating the pledge of allegiance to the US required prior to independence. Independence thereafter was celebrated on July 4 each year until 1962, when President Diosdado Macapagal issued Proclamation No. 28, moving the date of Philippine independence from July 4 to June 12—the date independence from Spain was proclaimed by Emilio Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite.”

The Official Gazette further explained the origin of Philippine-American Friendship Day, “which dates back to 1955 when President Ramon Magsaysay, by virtue of Proclamation No. 212, established the observance of ‘Philippine American Day.’ Then, during the Marcos administration, Philippine-American Day was renamed ‘Philippine-American Friendship Day’ and moved to July 4.”

More than the historical aspect, both nations are longtime allies, forged under the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951. This makes the country, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs, “the oldest security ally of the US in Southeast Asia and one of the five treaty allies of the US in the Pacific region.” In the economic aspect, the US State Department stressed the “strong ties of two nations”—“(they) have a strong trade and investment relationship, with over $18.9 billion in goods and services traded during 2020. The Philippines’ third-largest trading partner, the US is one of the largest foreign investors in the Philippines.”

More than words, the US relayed a renewed sense of cooperation and open communication with the new Marcos administration. No less than US Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff led a high-profile delegation during the inauguration rites of President Marcos. Emhoff relayed US President Joe Biden’s congratulations on behalf of the American people, and said the “US looks forward together to promote the peace, security, and prosperity of our two countries.”

It would be recalled that Biden was among the first world leaders to personally congratulate Marcos after the elections, reiterating that he looks forward to “strengthening the US-Philippines alliance while expanding bilateral cooperation in a wide range of areas, including the fight against Covid-19, climate crisis, promoting broad-based economic growth, and respect for human rights.”

The new administration, it seems, has a clean slate to reinvigorate once more strong Philippine-US relations. This early, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez, in a television interview, said that Marcos wants “more economic activities between the two countries under his watch—particularly in getting more American investments.” The ambassador also described the new ties between Marcos and Biden as promising as the Biden administration “has expressed that it wants to work with the present Philippine government.”

This pronouncement bodes well, especially for the four million Filipino-Americans who live in the US, and the almost 300,000 US citizens residing in the Philippines. There is no path to take during these tumultuous times, except the path of cooperation, which leads to peace, progress, and prosperity between two nations.