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Celebrating Philippine Independence Day

by Dionesio C. Grava Thursday, Jun. 11, 2009 at 8:14 PM
dcgrava@aol.com 818-674-2748 Sylmar, CA 91342

The Philippine flag acquires added prominence these days on the occasion of the observance of the Declacration of Philippine Independence.

On the occasion of the 111th Anniversary of the Declaration of Philippine Independence, the City of Walnut, California, will proclaim June 8 to 14, 2009, as Filipino Heritage Week. According to John Chua, president of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of San Gabriel Valley (FACCSGV), the proclamation will be tonight during the council meeting that starts at 7 pm.

FACCSGV will host the annual Filipino Heritage Festival on June 13 & 14 (Saturday and Sunday) at the Miracle Hill Campus - Gospel Life Community (18901 E. Amar Rd., Walnut, CA 91789). In addition to the free fun and entertainment from 1 p.m. to dusk in both days, the Philippine Consulate will be around on June 13 for a Consular Outreach Service (Philippine Passport renewal, Philippine citizenship retention and reacquisition, and registration for the Philippine absentee voting). In the evening at 7:30 p.m. there will be a Christian Concert featuring Becca Godinez. Ticket Donation: .00 per person.

On June 14 starting at 11 a.m., there will be a Special Sunday Worship. For additional information, Mr. Chua can be reached at johnchua@earthlink.net.

Also tonight, June 10, starting at 6 p.m. will be the opening reception of the exhibit “Strokes of Genuis: Filipino American Artists of Los Angeles” at the City Hall Gallery (Main Rio Bridge) located at 200 N. Main Street, Los Angeles. The admission-free exhibit will run until July 3 with hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Fridays. It is a project of the Los Angeles Filipino Association of City Employees (LAFACE) in celebration of Philippine Independence, in cooperation with the City of Los Angeles Departmnet of Cultural Affairs. For more information, Zen Lopez at zenlopez@aol.com.

On Friday, June 12, starting at 9:00 in the morning, the Consulate General of the Philippines in Los Angeles will observe a flag raising ceremony at the residence of the consul general of that country located at 414 S. Muirfield Road, Los Angeles. It will be followed by a breakfast. Attire: Barong Tagalog/Filipiniana. RSVP required at cultural_pcgla@yahoo.com.

The series of events celebrating Philippine Independence in California this year started Saturday, June 6, with a Pista Sa Nayon in Vallejo. It was held at the Vallejo Waterfront, the Filipino community’s 23rd year of Independence Day celebrations according to Norma Placido, general chairperson of the 2009 Philippine Cultural Committee. This year, she said, the free outdoor festival had over 97 vendor booths, delicious food, continuous first-class entertainment, and a parade and activities for all ages.

Vallejo, according to Ms. Placido, has been rated by the New York Times as the most diverse city in the United States. The city is home to over 120,000 people, including 30,000 Filipino Americans. Vallejo’s ties to the Philippines date back to 1898, when ships that fought in the Battle of Manila Bay left Mare Island for their long journey across the Pacific Ocean. Since then, Filipinos have come to Vallejo to work, buy homes, raise families and start businesses. Filipinos are an economic force in Vallejo and they have one of the highest household incomes among ethnic groups. They also have a high rate of home ownership.

Another American city with a large number of Filipino residents (it is said that about a fourth each of the population are White Americans, Black Americans, Latinos, and Filipinos) is Carson, located southwest of Los Angeles. Also on June 6 the Filipino community congregated throughout the day and night at the Veterans’ Park for the yearly, admission free celebration of Philippine Independence Day co-sponsored by the Filipino Independence Day Foundation and the City of Carson. Among the offerings were live entertainment, cultural and musical presentations, a Santa Cruzan, food and display booths, and a children's game area.

A day earlier on June 5, another whole day-and-into-the-night celebration was held at the Westfield Plaza Bonita in National City. It was billed as Philippine Faire 2009 and likewise free to the public.

Meanwhile, the regional chair of the Nation Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), Martin Celemin, wrote:

“Last Saturday, June 6th (from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM) was a very glorious day for the Filipino American community in the Las Vegas metropolitan area.

The celebration of Philippine Independence week was well planned weeks in advance, and the result was just fantastic. Thousands of FilAms (estimated about 4,000) and others attended the multi-faceted cultural event highlighting FilAm talents, foods and games at the Sammy Davis Jr. Festival Plaza adjacent to Lorenzi Park with covered large stage, surrounded by covered booths for food vendors and various products. Some food booths ran out of food. FilAm talents from cultural Filipiniana folk dances to magical performances by the youth could have easily beat American Idol show. The event was honored by the appearance and performance of professional singers Earl Turner and Lani Misalucha who are currently have a daily show at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel & Casino. The event was sponsored and managed by NaFFAA's Regional and State groups with the active leadership of the project coordinator Noel Casimiro assisted by hosts of NaFFAA members and FilAm Lions Club members. The theme of the event was "One Voice - A Community of One" Many congratulations have been received extolling the well organized and managed event. FilAms are so proud to have attended and looked forward to next year's celebration. It was, indeed, a very glorious day to remember.”

From New South Wales, Australia, Loli Farmer, OAM, informed about their Independence Day celebrations. She said that observance started June 6 with a country town flag raising ceremony with Consul General Eva G. Betita in attendance. On June 7, Sunday, mass was celebrated in different suburbs and one in particular had three Filipino priests officiating.

June 8 was also the Queens's Birthday and a Filipino Australian, Manuel Bermejo Castillo, was honored by Queen Elizabeth II with the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in recognition for his community services. Castillo heads the Philippine Australia Sports & Culture, Inc. (PASC), which has received Linkapil Award 1991, the New South Wales Multicultural Marketing Award from the Community Relations Commission NSW Government, and the Araw ng Maynila Award for international organization.

On June 12, a flag raising ceremony will be observed by the Consul General and staff and the government department of tourism and trade. At 10:30 a.m. there will be an award ceremony at Blacktown City Council where three Filipino Australians will receive the Chifley Volunteer Award. Dorothy del Villar, Maria Theresa Sayas, and Crresencio Pilao will be awarded for community services by the Federal member of Chifley Roger Price, MP Chief Government Whip, and the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

On June 13, there will be another Philippine Independence Day flag-raising at Blacktown City Council. The city is home to the biggest concentration of Filipinos in Australia. A reception will be held in the evening at the Four Seasons Hotel with diplomats and community leaders in attendance. Several Independence Day Balls have been organized by several groups, Ms. Farmer added.

June 19 will see a flag raising ceremony and dedication of Rizal Park at Campbelltown City Council. Another flag raising will be held the following day at Penrith City Council. Philippine Independence Day extends to July with Parramatta City Council, sister city of Cebu city, as host.

Other states will also be celebrating Philippine Independence Day, Ms. Farmer said, among them: Canberra ACT, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territoy, Victoria and Tasmania. She said that New South has more than half of the more than 200,000 Filipino immigrants in that country.

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