Filipino pride shines at Manhattan’s Annual PH Independence Day parade

Philippine Consul General to New York Senen T. Mangalile (center), US Senator Chuck Schumer (fourth from left), PIDCI Grand Marshal Charina Amunategui, PIDCI President Arman David (6th and 7th from left), and other elected officials kick off the 126th Independence Day Parade with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the corner of Madison Avenue and 38th Street. Photo by Joey Jose R. Magaso

Over 130 groups march in the largest Philippine Independence Day event outside Manila

THE Philippine Consulate General in New York, in partnership with the Philippine Independence Day Council Incorporated (PIDCI), kicked off the commemoration of the 126th anniversary of Philippine independence in the United States with the annual Independence Day Parade on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. The event featured 135 floats, organizations, and marching bands, some of which came from the Philippines.

“It is very important that we continue the tradition of over 30 years of marching down a main thoroughfare of Manhattan to showcase to the rest of the American community and the residents of New York the rich heritage and vibrant culture of the Philippines,” Consul General Mangalile said.

The Philippine Independence Day Parade in New York City is an annual celebration held on the first Sunday of June to commemorate the Philippines’ declaration of independence from Spain in 1898. It is touted by many as the largest Philippine Independence Day parade outside the Philippines.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer joined the parade on Madison Avenue

New York Senator Chuck Schumer joined the festivities and proclaimed his love for the Filipino American community, citing their work ethic, love for family, desire for higher education, and cheerfulness as their best qualities.

Among those who paraded were Assembly Member Steven Raga, the first Filipino elected official in the state of New York, Mayor Arvin Amatorio of Bergenfield, New Jersey, and Mayor Peter Urscheler of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

Mayor Peter Urscheler of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, one of two elected Filipino-Americans in the northeast.

“I am just so proud to be a part of the 126th celebration of Philippine independence here in New York, which is a way to keep our Filipino culture strong and alive,” Mayor Urscheler said. He mentioned that his mother is from the town of Bacon, Sorsogon.

The parade showcases Filipino culture, heritage, and traditions through colorful floats, traditional dances, and musical performances, including huge delegations coming from the Philippines. This year, local government units from Gingoog City and the provinces of Aurora and Pangasinan joined the parade on Madison Avenue.

Led by Mayor Eric Canosa, a big delegation from Gingoog City highlighted the province’s Kuyamis Festival. Along with the city officials, 80 street performers showed how the festival honors the cultural heritage and agricultural prosperity of their city and the province of Misamis Oriental.

Misamis Oriental’s Kuyamis Festival takes center stage at the 34th Philippine Independence Day Parade in Manhattan. Photo by Consul General Senen T. Mangalile

At the meet-and-greet on Saturday, June 1, Mayor Canosa shared that the festival’s name is derived from the indigenous coconut variety called “kuyamis” that was once prevalent in the region.

Pangasinan Vice Governor Mark Lambino expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to represent their province at the parade and festival.

Pangasinan Vice Governor Mark Lambino and some of the provincial officials

“We’re very grateful to represent our province here. It is our first time to join this parade here in Manhattan and we’re so proud to represent Pangasinan,” Vice Governor Lambino told the Asian Journal. Their delegation included 21 members, among them provincial board members and department heads.

For Lambino, the parade provided an excellent platform for the initial promotion of Pangasinan, highlighting its products and tourism. In addition to its beautiful beaches, he said their province is promoting faith tourism, boasting two minor basilicas located in Manaoag and San Carlos City. They also showcased products including the barongs they wore which were made by artisans in the town of Umingan from pina cloth, as well as the native abel weave.

Through the parade in NYC, the mayor hopes to introduce the festival not just to Americans but also to Filipinos in the northeast USA who are not aware of it. He added that the festival aims to revitalize the coconut industry, promote eco-tourism, and raise awareness about environmental conservation in the province. Held every second week of January, the Kuyamis Festival is overshadowed by the more popular festivals held in the same month such as Sinulog in Cebu City, Dinagyang in Iloilo City, and Ati-Atihan in Kalibo, Aklan.

Upon the invitation of Consul General Mangalile, the ASEAN Consulates General in New York participated in the parade to display the spirit of ASEAN solidarity, shared values, and common heritage. Consul General Amir Farid Abu Hassan of Malaysia, Consul General Somchai Taphaopong of Thailand, Consul Chew Ee Lin of Singapore, Consul Nadia Marlene Eunike of Indonesia, and Consul Bui Dang Quan of Vietnam marched down Madison Avenue and gamely posed for pictures with various Filipino community organizations.

The day commenced with a flag ceremony held at the lobby of the Philippine Center on Fifth Avenue, with young Filipino-Americans leading the Panunumpa sa Watawat. In the presence of the PIDCI President, Grand Marshal, Board of Directors, past presidents, and past grand marshals, the officers of the Philippine Consulate General in New York, accompanied by visiting officials from Philippine local government units, joined Rev. Fr. Patrick Longalong, Imam Shamsi Ali, and Rev. Henry Janiola in praying for the Philippines, its people, and its government. A Thanksgiving Mass officiated by the Most Reverend Efren Esmilla, Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia, followed at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center.

The festivities continued where the parade ended at the corner of Madison Avenue and 26th Street. A street fair showcased various purveyors of Filipino food, services, and products from participating local governments.

Kalye NYC was among the food vendors that sold classic Filipino dishes.

Lines began forming as soon as the food vendors and crowd favorites such as So Sarap, Kalye NYC, Jayhan’s Grill, Daniel Corpuz Chocolatier, and Fritzie’s opened at 11:00 am. The street became more crowded as soon as the parade ended. Foodies had a grand time enjoying classic Filipino street food like fish balls, barbecue, and grilled balut to ube desserts, taho, and halo-halo.

The “Project Barkada” jeepney, a symbol of Filipino ingenuity and resourcefulness, was prominently featured on the opening night of Broadway’s “Here Lies Love”, with the all-Filipino cast posing for photos in front of it while wearing traditional Filipino formal wear. At the street fair last Sunday, it was parked on the corner of 27th Street and Park Avenue. AJPress Photos by Momar G. Visaya

The street fair also featured Project Barkada, which brought a Sarao jeepney and parked it on the corner of 27th Street and Park Avenue, along with vendors hawking real estate, Filipino products and services, streetwear, barong tagalog, and ternos.

“The Philippine Independence Day parade & street fair is a wonderful opportunity for small businesses like Hibla Barong & Filipiniana to showcase and promote our products. Through these events, our barong makers in small communities of Lumban are able to reach our kababayans in this side of the world,” said Elaine Magalona Schroeder of Hibla Barong & Filipiniana.

Members of the Barangay Gingoognon in the United States of America (GIUSA) perform in front of the judges at the Philippine Independence Day parade.

“Unbeknownst to many Filipino-Americans who purchase our Barongs, Filipiniana and handmade accessories, they are literally supporting micro-economies in numerous provinces in the Philippines where we source our collection,” she added.”Hence we are incredibly thankful to our kababayans who appreciate the quality and style of our Barong and Filipiniana products”

Local artists from the tri-state area took the stage to entertain the audience, along with headliners Filipino balladeer Nonoy Zuñiga and vocal girl group 4th Impact.

Momar G. Visaya

Momar G. Visaya is the Executive Editor of the Asian Journal. You can reach him at [email protected].

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