The symbolic Filipino nickname Juan dela Cruz has been part and parcel of Philippine culture and even national identity, it represents the common Filipino. The name came to hold in the Philippines a combination of the positions which Uncle Sam holds in the United States, John Bull in England and Marianne in France.
Juan dela Cruz was coined by a Scottish publisher of The Philippines’ Free Press in 1900s, Robert McCulloch-Dick. He noticed the name's ubiquity in court dockets and police blotters. Because of this, McCulloch-Dick wrote small verses about Juan dela Cruz in The Philippine Free Press who was often depicted narrating the petty crimes he had committed. Gradually, he widened his conception of Juan until he settled on a fixed template – Juan dela Cruz as a typical Filipino who is friendly, humble, self-respecting and hardworking fellow who tilled the fields and built the roads and worked in the mills of the Philippines. Juan is depicted as a naïve-looking man wearing a camisa or Barong Tagalog, long trousers, tsinelas (native slippers) and his trademark gear, the salakot. A resident cartoonist of The Philippine Free Press, Jorge Pineda first drew the image of Juan in 1912.
Juan has been predominantly used as a character in Filipino literatures such as Juan Tamad and in documentaries. It was also a name of a popular rock band in the 1960s and even in snacks, the Chicharon ni Mang Juan.
Juan dela Cruz’s life has been marred by many trials. He had struggled for his freedom from different colonizers and a tyrant leader. His people killed from natural calamities and poverty. But with all these difficulties, Juan remained friendly, humble, self-respecting and hardworking fellow who smiles and with pride, shouts to the world, “I am Juan, I am a Filipino”.