Unbreakable Resolve: The 126th Independence Day Celebration in Albany

by Troi Santos

1521 Kalayaan and government officials cut the ceremonial ribbon to begin the celebration | Photo by Troi Santos

ALBANY, NY — As the global 126th Philippine Independence Day celebration winds down, the parade organized by Kalayaan 1521 highlighted the relentless spirit and determination of the Filipino community. Despite last-minute cancellations by sponsors and attendees and a whole-day rain forecast, committed supporters and officials brought the event to fruition.

In a heartwarming display of dedication, Deputy Consul General of the Philippine Consulate General in New York Adrian Cruz, Deputy Director of Asian Affairs in Governor Hochul’s administration Sibu Nair, Director of Asian American Outreach Intergovernmental Affairs, and Adam Chen from the office of Attorney General Leticia James traveled more than three hours to attend the celebration.

Rain threatened to cancel the event, but miraculously, it stopped before the opening ceremony. The event commenced with an interfaith prayer from Potriranka Manis and Joannah Montojo, followed by the American and Philippine National Anthems performed by Azia Barao and Pongsky Tenioso.

Event chairperson Cheryl Hoyer, Kalayaan 1521 founder Sol Kapunan, Albany Common Council President Corey Ellis, NYSNA Union representative Alani Roc and the 2024 Parade Grand Marshal Ric “Boyet” Austria, with the dignitaries, marked the beginning of the parade with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Heading the parade were the Kalayaan 1521 board members Sol Kapunan, Mary Ann Gozon-Kapunan, Nathan Ty, and Cecille Castillon Weinstein, setting the tone for a day filled with cultural pride and unity. Other paraders in attendance were the New York State Nurses Association, the Philippine Nurses Association of New York, the fabulous CEBU Inc. dancers, showcasing their vibrant Sinulog dancing to the parade grounds headed by lead dancer Ericamae Patricio, Kinding Sindaw, which presented a dance excerpt from the Derangen preserved by the Maranao people of Southern Philippines.

The Kalayaan 1521 board members led the annual Independence Day Parade | Photo by Troi Santos
The Philippine Independence Day Council Inc. joined in support of Kalayaan 1521 | Photo by Troi Santos
Kalayaan 1521 organizers and government officials | Photo by Troi Santos
The CEBU Inc. dancers showcasing their vibrant Sinulog dancing to the parade grounds headed by lead dancer Ericamae Patricio | Photo by Troi Santos

APAPA Albany Chapter, PhilAm Club of Schenectady, RGI Alakdan New York, FAANNY, FUN-NY, Filipino Women’s Club of Connecticut, The Dreamweaver Collective, organizers of the President Quezon History Day from Saranac Lake, Sinulog Troupe of Albany, 2024 1521 Council Mrs. Kalayaan Maria Eva Villa, Philippine Independence Day Parade Council President Arman David, along with 2024 PIDCI Mrs. Kalayaan Luz Hoffman, PIDCI board members and former PIDCI president Nora Galleros of Galleros Robinson graced the event. Program Director Pierre Santos and Angelica Gomez ensured the program continuity.

Alpha Phi Omega chapter of Greater New York’s most enormous Philippine flag ever displayed outside the Philippines | {Photo by Troi Santos

The parade reached its zenith when the Alpha Phi Omega chapter of Greater New York unfurled the most enormous Philippine flag ever displayed outside the Philippines. The flag held aloft with great care, created mesmerizing waves as it was raised up and down from its side. Its expansive surface created beautiful, wave-like movements that danced with the wind. This breathtaking visual was perfectly complemented by the powerful and uplifting strains of Filipino patriotic songs, filling the hearts of onlookers with a profound sense of pride and unity.

Congressman Paul D. Tonko with Kalayaan Sol Kapunan | Photo by Troi Santos

Congressman Paul D. Tonko braved the rain in his privileged speech to award Kalayaan 1521 Sol Kapunan a certificate of special congressional recognition.

The celebration continued with the induction of officers for the new PNA-NY Capital Region subchapter, headed by Mary Ann Gozon-Kapunan and officiated by Albany Common Council President Corey Ellis. Attendees enjoyed the offerings from the various vendors and delicious offerings from the So Sarap food stall, which had a constant line throughout the event.

Even as the rain forced the sound system to shut down, the cultural dancers and some band members persevered, performing with their sound system. Christian Thompson, Raymond Reside of APO, performed with Genesis Tolentino II, the gifted pianist, who waited all afternoon for his chance to perform. Their dedication and passion shone through, demonstrating that the spirit of Philippine Independence rises above all challenges. Despite the rain, the paraders’ infectious smiles and lively presence were undiminished.

The 126th Independence Day Parade by Kalayaan 1521 was a powerful reminder of the Filipinos’ grit, unity, and pride. Amidst the challenges encountered, their perseverance and solidarity reflected a mutual resolve to honor Philippine history and culture.

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