Philippine Independence Day 2015
This article was published in the July 2015 issue of Pinoy Times.
Duyan ng Magiting - Philippine Independence Day Celebration in Edmonton
by Ida Beltran-Lucila
The Filipino community in Edmonton celebrated the 117th Philippine Independence Day last June 13, 2015 at the Edmonton City Hall, organized by the Council of Edmonton Filipino Associations (CEFA). Opening with a thanksgiving mass officiated by Father Nilo Macapinlac, it proceeded with a program themed Pilipinas: Duyan ng Magiting (Philippines: The Cradle of the Brave), with noted choreographer/director Jojo Lucila at the helm of the program, and Paul Briones and Lito Velasco mobilizing volunteer performers, as co-chairs for entertainment.
Greetings were delivered by government representatives MLA David Sheppard (provincial), Councillor Amarjeet Sohi (municipal) and Philippine Honorary Consul General Esmeralda Agbulos who read the message of President Benigno S. Aquino. Common themes in the messages include: the recognition of the increasing numbers of Filipinos both in Edmonton & Alberta; the acknowledgment of the astounding economic contributions of the Filipino community, and thus, is a significant part of the cultural tapestry of Alberta; and the importance of remembering and instilling pride in the heritage.
In line with this year’s theme, the program incorporated significant Philippine icons - from the revolutionary heroes, the collective representation of Filipino overseas workers, to the bigger than life personality, Manny Pacquiao. Featured performers were Ronald Idon who gave a heartfelt rendition of “Dakilang Lahi”, Sharmaine Pagtakhan, Koro Filipino, volunteer dancers, and the Filipino Senior Citizens of Alberta in Sakuting, all under the direction of Jojo Lucila. Other participants were the Knights of Columbus and the Filipino Retirees Association in Alberta.
This year, the Filipino community all over Canada received felicitations from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, members of parliament, provincial premiers and municipal leaders. The ties between Canada and the Philippines were further strengthened by the recent visit of President Benigno Aquino III to Canada.
The Filipino community, with a penchant for celebration and festivity, gather on this occasion through a variety of activities - flag raising, dinner-dances, picnics, competitions, parades, and exhibits. It is my personal opinion that celebrations abroad are more sentimental in nature, the reasons of which are apparent. Removed from our home country and faced with a society of diverse cultures, we are compelled to extol the virtues of the Filipino and the salient history of our heritage. It is imperative then and much desired, that in the retelling and elaboration of these, that we do not just zero in on pomp and circumstance but exemplify the very same qualities that we take pride in, and live them each day. In a country where we are referred to in a collective as the Filipino community, may we be united rather than fragmented, filled with idealism rather than cynicism, and as Gandhi would state it, be the change that we want to see in our being Filipino.