New York City celebrates 126th Philippine Independence Day with community flag-raising at Bowling Green

Mr. Romel C. Cañete (right), Dr. Kevin Nadal (center), and Ms. Jocelyn Bernal (left) deliver their remarks on behalf of the Filipino community in New York City.
Photos by Nikka Arenal

New York City officials and commissioners led by Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer commemorated the 126th anniversary of Philippine Independence with a flag-raising ceremony held at Bowling Green Park on Monday, June 17. This event, marked by a spirit of pride and unity, was attended by a significant number of the Filipino-American community, local officials, and distinguished guests.

In his opening remarks, Consul General Senen Mangalile highlighted the significance of Philippine Independence Day, reflecting on the historical struggles and triumphs that led to the nation’s freedom. He spoke about the resilience and vibrant contributions of Filipinos in the United States, particularly in New York, underscoring their impact on the local community and broader American society.

Consul General Senen Mangalile

“The celebration of our independence is not only a reflection of our history but also a testament to the indomitable spirit of Filipinos around the world,” stated Consul General Mangalile. “Today, as we raise our flag, we honor the sacrifices of our ancestors and reaffirm our commitment to uphold the values of freedom and democracy.”

 

Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer, who represented Mayor Eric Adams during the ceremony, expressed her pride and happiness as a Filipino in celebrating “the very rich history of the Philippines, the extraordinary contributions of Filipino-Americans, and the amazing community of Pinoys–the third largest Asian-American community in the city,” which she acknowledged as “power for all of us, power for immigrants, and power for the great diversity in the city.”

Torres-Springer also expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the ceremony as she emphasized the significance of the event in celebrating the rich history and extraordinary contributions of the Filipino community in New York City.

New York City Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer
AJPress photos by Momar G. Visaya

“I come from a long line of proud Filipinos, strivers, doers, survivors in their own right, and my father Manny, who is from Pampanga, used to tell me that every bloodline runs in the Filipino,” Torres-Springer added.

Torres-Springer also highlighted the diverse backgrounds that make up the city and acknowledged the importance of ensuring representation and shared power for all communities.

Cultural Performances and Community Participation

The event was enriched by various cultural performances that showcased traditional Filipino music and dance. These performances were not just entertainment but a reaffirmation of the community’s pride in their cultural heritage. The rhythmic beats of traditional instruments and the graceful movements of folk dancers captivated the audience, drawing applause and cheers.

Local Filipino-American organizations actively participated in the ceremony, contributing to the vibrant atmosphere with their colorful attire and enthusiastic presence.

Mr. Romel C. Cañete, Vice Chairman of Newmark New York, Ms. Jocelyn Bernal, Budget Manager of the New York University College of Dentistry, and Dr. Kevin Nadal, Distinguished Professor of the City University of New York, represented the Filipino community in this year’s flag raising. The three exemplify the journey of Filipinos who have distinguished themselves in New York City through hard work, perseverance, and dedication. Their achievements underscore the resilient spirit of the Filipino, one that thrives and excels even in foreign lands.

Special citations from Mayor Eric Adams were presented to Mr. Cañete and Dr. Nadal for their outstanding service and dedication to the Filipino community of New York City.

The program also included speeches by several dignitaries, such as Commissioner Manuel Castro of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Commissioner Edward Mermelstein of the Mayor’s Office of International Affairs, New York State Assemblymember Steven Raga, Senior Advisor Angela Tolosa of the Administration for Children’s Services, and Bowling Green Association Chairman Arthur Piccolo.

Present during the ceremony were members of the Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce (PACC), which stands as a beacon of the economic achievements of Filipinos in New York. With its presence spanning over a century, the PACC fosters business growth, creates job opportunities, and serves as a vital link between the Philippines and the United States, promoting mutual prosperity.

The ceremony featured a series of cultural performances, including Igorot ethnic dances by BIBAK NY, a song performance of “Bayan Ko” by Ms. Krizia Daya, and the singing of the Philippine and U.S. national anthems by six singers from the Leadership Initiative for Modern Bukidnon Artists and the Youth (LIMBAY), which is composed of the Bukidnon State University Chorale Alumni.

This year marks the second time a flag-raising ceremony was held in commemoration of Philippine Independence Day and the third time the Philippine flag has been raised at Bowling Green, the oldest park in New York City.

The celebration at Bowling Green Park served as a reminder of the importance of remembering and honoring the sacrifices made for freedom. It also highlighted the ongoing journey of the Filipino-American community in preserving their heritage while contributing meaningfully to their adopted homeland. n

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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