By Marivir R. Montebon
“This is a way to honor our freedom fighters, showcase our culture, and affirm our solidarity in the US.”
– Grand Marshall Atty. Reuben Seguritan
New York City — Gay Blanca just did her errands of getting glue materials for her dance costume on Sunday, June 7. She is one of the lead dancers of the Cebu contingent of the Philippine Independence Day celebration done every first Sunday of June here. “I have become accustomed to this. It is fun and I love to showcase our Philippine dance,” she opined. For Gay, and more than 50 dancers who will don Filipiniana gowns with bursting colors, Sunday is going to be exciting.
The Cebu group won third in last year’s dance competition, and the third time it has joined.
About 140 contingents from various community organizations will brighten up and invigorate Madison Avenue during the Philippine parade. Commemorating the 117th year of the Philippine Republic, the celebration will also parade movie and TV performers in the Philippines as crowd drawers.
Grand Marshall Atty. Reuben Seguritan and Philippine Consul General to New York Mario Lopez de Leon will lead the contingents, who will march from 38th to 28th Street on Madison. Actors Cesar Montano, Eddie Mesa, and Xian Lim and renowned performers Sylvia la Torre, Rosemarie and Cherry Gil, and Gail Banawis will be among the stars to grace the parade.
Seguritan, during the Consul General Press Hour on Tuesday, enjoined the participation of Filipinos “as a way to honor our freedom fighters, showcase our culture, and affirm our solidarity in the US.” This year’s celebration is inspired by the theme on active partnership on environmental and climate change governance.
The New York celebration of the Philippine independence is touted to be the biggest gathering of Filipinos outside the Philippines. It has three events, which starts at 11 AM and ends at 5PM – the street fair, parade, and cultural festival. This growing tradition in New York, similar to the much anticipated Brazil Day or Israel Day, has been organized by the Philippine Independence Day Council Inc. (PIDCI) which is currently headed by Fe Martinez.
The PIDCI was an off-shoot to the Philippine Independence Day Committee created by the Philippine Consulate General of New York. “When the event grew bigger and bigger and more demanding, the Consulate decided to wean it as we had to focus on our consular services,” recounted Ambassador de Leon.
Martinez at the press hour mentioned that PIDCI has also been engaged in raising funds for the victims of super typhoon Haiyan in 2013. In the past, it has also engaged in community service such as forum and lectures for new immigrants on their rights and resource networks.
“There is so much to do, we need a lot of volunteers,” said Martinez, who is serving her last term as PIDCI president this year.