NEW YORK (Apr 7) – Philippine Vice President Manuel “Noli” L. de Castro, Jr. has accepted to be a special guest at the Philippine Independence Day commemoration on June 7 in New York City, it was announced by Guillermo “Gerry” M. Austria, president of the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc.
The invitation was extended to the Vice President in a letter signed by PIDCI President Austria and the Council’s Honorary Adviser, Consul General Cecilia B. Rebong, sent to Manila through the Philippine Consulate General in New York.
With this year’s theme: “Filipino-American: Bahagi ng Bagong Bayani,” a full day of activities await Vice President de Castro. The day starts at 8:00 a.m. with a flag ceremony replete with the singing of the Philippine National Anthem, “Lupang Hinirang” in front of the Philippine Center building at 556 Fifth Avenue, between 45th and 46th streets. The flag-raising ceremony is immediately followed by an Independence Thanksgiving Mass at Kalayaan Hall on the second floor of the Center.
Three of the many major events commemorating the 111th anniversary of the declaration of Philippine Independence scheduled for this year take place on that same Sunday, highlighted by the centerpiece event of the commemoration, the Philippine Independence Day Parade.
The Parade opens with brief ribbon-cutting ceremonies on Madison Avenue at 41st Street at 11:45 a.m. At noon this year’s Independence Day Parade gets on its way heading South on Madison Avenue until it passes a Reviewing Stand on the East side of the Avenue between 30th and 29th streets, finally turning off on 27th Street for dispersal.
Madison Avenue from 23rd Street to 42nd Street will be closed to vehicular traffic by the New York City Police at 9 a.m. in order for vendors, merchants and others to start setting up for the second major event of the day, the Independence Day Street Fair, a two-block, whole day (9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.) veritable Filipino food festival (between 24th and 25th Street) and a merchandise, exhibition, services and shopping block (25th to 26th Street).
The third and last major event for the day is the Cultural Festival presented on an open stage north of 23rd Street on Madison Avenue. It’s a three-hour program of songs, dances and other entertainment and cultural fare featuring area and visiting talents and performers, mostly Filipino.
This annual 14-block long parade will have mounted police and members of the New York City’s Finest Police Department of Filipino ancestry to pave the parade route for Dr. Teofila Santos, 2009 Grand Marshal. She leads the parade with dignitaries and participants from Filipino organizations, colorful floats, brightly uniformed marching bands and including the Fil-Am version of Ati-atihan; and a number of open cars with the reigning beauties of the Filipino-American associations riding on them. The parade’s finale is PDIC Inc’s. float that carries the reigning symbol of the yearly celebration of Philippine Independence- The Diwa ng Kalayaan (Spirit of Independence) and her Court namely Ms. Filipino-American; Hiyas ng Pilipinas; Bituin ng Luzon; Bituin ng Visayas; Bituin ng Mindanao; Lakambini ng PIDC, and Paraluman ng PIDC.
The yearly celebration of the anniversary of the Philippine Independence is the sole project of the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc., a non profit organization composed of Filipino-American Associations in the tri-state area as members. It has the Philippine Consul General as Honorary Adviser who spearheads the parade and graces the reviewing stand with dignitaries from the Philippines, past Grand Marshals and other special guests.