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Sunday, July 4, 2010

FIlipino-American Friendship Day

July 4 is Filipino-American Friendship Day. President Diosdado Macapagal, has appointed this day to remember the liberation of Philippines from Japanese occupation during World War II.

The Philippines had been an American colony from 1898 to 1941 after three hundred years of Spanish rule. Ironically, it is a friendship that started with a bloody war.

Many revolutionaries since the Spanish autocracy have died in the hands of American soldiers like, General Gregorio del Pilar. They have even stripped the valiant general of his uniform after the battle of Tirad Pass.

However, admittedly, American colonization has done great progress in the country. Americans on board USS Thomas arrived in Manila on August 12, 1901. They introduced a new concept of public school education and a new faith, the United Methodist faith.

Wikipedia says, “They built elementary schools and learning institutions such as the Philippine Normal School (now Philippine Normal University) and the Philippine School of Arts and Trades (now Technological University of the Philippines) in 1901, the Tarlac High School on September 21, 1902 and the Quezon National High School (now, Tayabas High School), also in 1902… The Thomasites also reopened the Philippine Nautical School, which was originally established by the Board of Commerce of Manila in 1839 under Spain. About a hundred of the Thomasites stayed on to live in the Philippines after finishing their teaching assignments. They transformed the Philippines into the third largest English-speaking nation in the world and they became the precursors of the present-day U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers.”

Daniel Hudson Burnham, renowned American city planner, who is closely identified with plans for Cleveland, San Francisco, and Chicago, did the planning for the City of Baguio and Dewey Boulevard (now Roxas Boulevard).

U.S. Army Engineers headed by Col. Lyman Kennon along with Filipino engineers constructed the Kennon Road that made Baguio City accessible to transportation.

Interestingly, around 1,500 Japanese immigrant workers persevered to accomplish the difficult road project that had to cut and carve through the mountains of Benguet Province. The contribution of Japanese immigrant workers was significant and noteworthy. The project ended in 1905 with 500 Japanese workers dead. One Japanese worker sacrificed his life for every 90 meters of road length.

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