NEW YORK – Talk about a grand parade commemorating Philippine Independence in the streets of Manhattan – the city where over 90 ethnic communities live and work.
It may have been an early celebration but as tradition holds, this event is usually held on the first Sunday in June in New York City organized annually (now on its 25th year) by the Philippine Independence Day Parade Council, Inc. (PIDCI), led by its president, Fe Martinez.
On June 7, Madison Avenue was turned into a virtual Manila Avenue as the Filipino community of the US Northeast participated in the celebration of the 117th anniversary of Philippine Independence, the biggest celebration outside of the Philippines.
Government officials from the Philippines were in town to celebrate with their kababayans and took in all the merriment during the festivities, which was organized in three segments: the parade, the street fair and the cultural show.
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert Del Rosario who was in New York for medical reasons took the opportunity to attend the parade.
“The patriotic spirit demonstrated by thousands of Fil-Ams was clearly an indication of their appreciation of freedom and democracy…It was a most wonderful reminding experience of how great Fil-Ams are and how much they continue to love their mother country,” he said.
Del Rosario offered his congratulations to the organizers for the “super events” of that day saying, “thanks to all the Fil-Ams who regularly share their success and fruits of their work with their families in the PH. In my book, they are our modern day heroes and it is my privilege to salute them.”
Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Luis Cuisia and his wife Vicky, traveled from Washington, D.C. to attend the event. Philippine Consul General of New York Mario De Leon, Jr. welcomed the visiting officials. He was with them during the ribbon cutting ceremony to formally open the parade and the festivities that followed.
“I think this is a coming of age for the Filipino community,” De Leon said. “I believe that our presence is more elevated in the U.S. mainstream society and we are really proud of the Filipinos here in New York and the Philippines.”
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano was also in attendance together with his wife Mayor of Taguig Lani Cayetano. Cayetano, along with Edgardo Pamintuan, mayor of Angeles City were invited to the World Cities Summit Mayors Forum in New York happening on the same weekend. They took their time to meet their fellow Filipinos.
Presidential Adviser for Environment Protection Neric Acosta also came for the Parade. He lent his office’s advice on the Parade’s theme, “The Philippines: Active Partner in Environmental and Climate Change Governance.”
US government officials graced the event to show their solidarity with their Filipino constituents. New York State Senator Chuck Schumer was in the grandstand along with US Congresswoman Grace Meng and Filipino-American Federal District Judge Lorna Schoefield.
More than 100 organizations were represented during the two-hour parade, to showcase the heritage and culture of the Philippines in the biggest melting pot in the world. The marchers and floats each had a colorful display of costumes, arts, design, music and street performances emceed by Cherie Gil and Michael De Mesa. Celebrities invited from the Philippines included Kundiman Queen Sylvia La Torre, Filipino Elvis Presley of the 60’s Eddie Mesa, OPM pop stars of the 80’s Nonoy Zuniga and Jam Morales, movie star Cesar Montano, Miss Intercontinental Philippines 2015 Christi McGarry, Fil-Am comedian Rex Navarrete, Disney TV artist Anna Marie Perez De Tagle, ABS CBN talents Gab Valenciano and Ivan Dorschner.