The last time the Dinagyang Street Dancers graced the billing card at the Philippine Independence Day in New York was in 2011 under the then-PIDCI-President Joji Jalandoni’s wing when they electrified the New York region Filipino, Filipino-American and mainstream communities swelling the number of celebrators for the day to a record 100,000 people.
Their distinctive Dinagyang sound and spectacle rocked and reverberated in Manhattan’s high rise glass and concrete canyons with their ethnically indigenous street dancing entrancing the celebrants throughout the day, from the noontime Independence Day Parade to their colorful and engaging performances at the Cultural Festival.
On tap for this year’s Philippine Independence Day are the traditional trio of major events: the all-day Independence Day Street Fair, the Independence Day Parade led by Grand Marshal Dr. Rebecca Castro Rivera and the Cultural Festival. Along with the Dinagyang Street Dancers are appearances and performances by Philippine movie stars and celebrities Aga Muhlach, Sharon Cuneta, Derek Ramsey, Gary Valenciano, Marian Rivera, Rafael Rosell and Bong Revilla, among others, who will be brought into the celebrations in a partnership/sponsorship between PIDCI and the three leading Philippine TV networks, GMA, ABS-CBN-TFC and TV5. The Dinagyang Street Dancers are appearing through another partner/sponsor arrangement between PIDCI and the Philippine Department of Tourism in promoting their “It’s more fun in the Philippines” tourism campaign.
Also at the lead of the Parade, along with other important guests are specially invited guests Senator-elect Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who will be accompanied by Heart Evangelista, Senator Bong Revilla, two-term PIDCI President Fe Martinez and Philippine Consul General in New York Ambassador Mario Lopez de Leon, Jr.
Others who will be at the lead of the Independence Day Parade spearhead, will be past parade Grand Marshals, past PIDCI Presidents, Overall Chairs of past Independence anniversary commemorations, and the current members of the PIDCI Board of Directors, and past directors.
Still others, who will be riding on a float will be this second year’s Mrs. Kalayaan, Rose Pacia Labelle, along with her court: first runner-up Mrs. Kalayaan Filipino-American titlist Ernestine Hollins, second runner-up Mrs. Kalayaan Philippines Leila Fernandez Morales, Mrs. Kalayaan Luzon Jeanette Corpus, Mrs. Kalayaan Visayas Josephine Guarana, and Mrs. Kalayaan Mindanao Susan Tobias.
Bringing up the rear of the Parade, on their own special float are this year’s Diwa ng Kalayaan beauties, led by the titleholder, 18-year-old Kristine Liwag of New Jersey, the 2013 Diwa ng Kalayaan (Spirit of Independence). She will be joined by first runner up Miss Filipino-American Riana Aldana, second runner-up Hiyas ng Pilipinas (Jewel of the Philippines) Camille Jessica Cunanan, Bituin ng Luzon (Star of Luzon) Allysson M. Prada, Bituin ng Visayas (Star of the Visayas) Judith Ashley Quilapio and Bituin ng Mindanao (Star of Mindanao) Kirsten Claire Fernandez.
New York’s annual commemoration has grown by leaps and bounds from its inception in 1990, to this day and for more than the last 18 years it is proudly hailed by Filipinos around the world as the largest celebration of Philippine Independence outside of the Philippines. And over the last five years, the annual Philippine Independence Day has been touted by Filipinos and their friends everywhere as the largest outdoor gathering, at one time, in one place, of Filipinos in the world, having drawn some 70,000 celebrants in 2008 and a surge of 100,000 people in 2011, when the world renowned Dinagyang Festival Street Dancers from Iloilo City, Iloilo, Philippines was the celebration’s special guests.
The Independence Day celebration opens with an 8:00 a.m. flag ceremony at the Philippine Center at 556 Fifth Avenue, between 45th and 46th Street in Manhattan, followed by a Mass of Independence at the Kalayaan Hall on the second floor of the center. In the meantime, hectic preparations are going on on a stretch of Madison Avenue from 23rd Street to 39th Street.
The Street Fair opens at 10:00 a.m. on Madison Avenue from 24th to 26th streets with a full-blown Filipino food festival on the East side of the Avenue, and corporate and merchants’ booths on the West side. The Independence Day Parade opens with brief ceremonies on Madison Avenue directly above 39th Street and at 12:00 Noon starts to wind down until the marchers, marching bands, floats, etc. pass a Reviewing Stand on the East Side of the Avenue between 30th and 29th Streets before turning off onto 27th Street for dispersal.
In the meantime, at about 2:00 p.m., the Cultural Festival opens on an open-air stage set up on one side of the Avenue just north of 23rd Street.
For information, to participate or for any questions regarding the Independence Day events or any other matter relating to the 115th Independence Day commemoration, please call President Fe Martinez (973) 222-0085, Vice President Elvira Reyes (551) 208-4986, Secretary Joyce Castillo (848) 467-0269, Treasurer Violeta McGough ((201) 707-8152, or any member of the Board of Directors: Jesse Arteche (908) 482-1398, Albert Diala (347) 260-8063, Dora Koltsidis (617) 637-5947, Ner Martinez (347) 837-5853, Angie Molina (718) 857-2901, Maryann Sanagustin (908) 456-7063, Aristides Uy (347) 749-2022, Vivian Velasco (917) 623-3827, Margie Wisotsky (347) 306-7707; or Gheng Pingol (917) 669-0505.
The culminating commemorative event for this year’s celebration of the 115th anniversary of the declaration of Philippine Independence is the Independence Ball scheduled at the Grand Ballroom of the Teaneck Marriott at Glenpointe Hotel at 100 Frank W. Burr Boulevard in Teaneck, New Jersey 07666-6796 on Saturday, June 8, 2013 from 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight. For information on or for invitations to the Independence Ball, please call Committee Chair Margie Wisotsky at (347) 306-7707 or Angie Molina at (718) 857-2901, or PIDCI President Fe Martinez at (973) 222-0085 or any member of the PIDCI Board of Directors.
Aside from the Philippine Department of Tourism and their current “It’s more fun in the Philippines” tourism promotion campaign, the sponsors and media partners for the 115th anniversary commemoration of Philippine Independence count with the three Philippine media conglomerates, GMA-7, ABS-CBN-TFC, and TV5, and their programs and outlets Aksyon TV International, Kapatid 5, GMA Pinoy TV, GMA Life TV, TFC, and Lifetstyle Network. The media partners are Asian Journal, Filipino Reporter, The Filipino Express, philippinedailymirror.com, newyorkbalita.com, filam.net, and inquirer.net. Other sponsors are AARP, Gold Med, MedAsia, and Ramar Foods International.