By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – The diverse Philippine culture came alive once again on the first Sunday of June on Madison Avenue as Filipino communities commemorated the 121st Philippine Independence Day. A total of 138 marching contingents and floats joined the parade on June 2, 2019, a visible increase in participation compared to 2018.
The Independence Day parade is traditionally done on the first Sunday of June in New York, the biggest celebrant of Independence Day outside Philippine shores. It was organized by the Philippine Independence Day Council, in close collaboration with the Philippine Consulate in New York.
The Cebu (Cebu Engaging in Building Unity) contingent, dancing in revelry the Sinulog, a dance prayer to the infant Jesus Christ, returned to join the parade (it did not join last year’s festivity) and won first place among marchers. With the dancers’ intricate peacock inspired royal blue and green gowns and elaborate headdresses, the audience knew they were up to grab the first place once again, as the group did several years past.
Dance sport champion Hanna Diluvio led the dance, which had this time a more upbeat, brisk pop choreography of the Sinulog. It was created collaboratively by Zenny Braga, Shiran Ybanez, Hanna Diluvio and Helen Kwong, the president of CEBU. Axel Albao who is based in Cebu, also pitched into the choreography. Kwong and Ybanez designed the gown this year.
Second placer was the Tribu Gingoog, led by Nora Galleros. They shone with their sharp red, blue and gold ensemble of Gingoog ethnic clothes. Performed by the group called Gingoogon USA (GIUSA), their presentation was choreographed by Norma Binglong Pareja.
Third place was the Talisay USA which performed an Earth preservation-inspired theme, which was initially dramatized by children sowing seeds, that later on burst into trees and resulting in a teeming flora and fauna.
The float contingents had the Filipino Social Club of NY Inc. as first placer, followed by the Apostolare of St. Patrick – Mutya ng St. Patrick, and the Philippine Nurses Association third.
Philippine actors Sam Milby, Bela Padilla, and Kim Chiu helped in drawing crowds.
For Ann Constantino Beck, Vice President for Community Development of JCI Philippine New York, with her two small children, joining the parade was fun because of friends and participants. “This parade is a way for my kids Tristan and Lauren to have a taste of my Filipino culture,” she said.
Atty. Elizabeth Cueva, an Independence Day celebration volunteer, said that the parade was festive and imbued with nationalistic feelings for the motherland Philippines. “The organizers, participants and volunteers all pitched in. Last year, there were less participants. The viewing stand is really sparser in terms of decor this year. Even the judges’ table did not have a table cover, nameplates, and decor. Plus, they did not have the food and drinks in time this year. As they say, there will always be new situations each year, because whenever new people are assigned, there will always be things to encounter. The most important thing is that the parade was fun and meant to commemorate the Philippine Independence,” Cueva said.
Last year, PIDCI had faced charges for transparency and accountability and nullity of elections before the Supreme Court by Filipino community organizations which had lessened the participation of Filipino groups and commercial sponsors in the 2018 parade. This year’s parade had marked improvement in crowd participation.
As of presstime, PIDCI still needed to straighten its records and present audited finance reports in order to regain its 501c3 status with the IRS. (With photos by Hanna Diluvio and Boyet Loverita)