New York City celebrates Philippine Independence Day with Flag Raising Ceremony at Bowling Green

Mayor Eric Adams delivers his speech and recognized two of the highest-ranking Filipino Americans in his cabinet – Deputy Mayor Maria Torres Springer and Commissioner Anne del Castillo of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.
AJPress Photo by Momar G. Visaya

IN a symbolic gesture of recognition and appreciation, Mayor Eric Adams and city officials gathered at Bowling Green on Friday, June 16 to host a flag-raising ceremony commemorating the 125th anniversary of Philippine Independence.

“We consider this flag-raising ceremony in this hallowed grounds as a recognition of the many contributions and achievements of Filipinos to New York City. And for that, we are very grateful,” said Consul General Senen Mangalile expressing his gratitude to Mayor Adams and his administration for hosting the ceremony.

He highlighted the importance of looking back to the date of June 12, 1898, when the Philippines proclaimed its independence and honoring the sacrifices made by the ancestors for freedom and self-determination.

Mangalile also celebrated the present-day heroes represented by the Filipino community in New York City, emphasizing their contributions in various fields such as healthcare, military service, law enforcement, entrepreneurship, and the arts.

He acknowledged the resilience of Filipino Americans in overcoming adversity and their positive impact on American society.

“Fil-Am history is replete with so many stories of overcoming adversity, enduring discrimination, being shortchanged when it comes to federal benefits such as our veterans of the Second World War and basically having to pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” Mangalile said. “Filipino Americans have triumphed over these challenges and have proven themselves a positive contribution to the fabric of American society.”

The event was attended by Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo, Sr., Consul General Mangalile, Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, Commissioner Anne del Castillo of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Commissioner Manuel Castro of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Commissioner Edward Mermelstein of the Mayor’s Office of International Affairs, Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga of the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, Bowling Green Chairman Arthur Piccolo, and various officials, and members of the Filipino American community.

Deputy Mayor Maria 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.

“We are here to celebrate the very rich history of the Philippines, the extraordinary contributions of Fil-Ams, and the amazing community of Pinoys here in this great city,” Torres-Springer said. “Now, I come from a long line of very proud Filipinos, strivers, doers, survivors in their own right and my father Manny used to tell me that every bloodline runs in the Filipino.”

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.

In his speech, Mayor Adams reiterated the importance of symbolism and substance in acknowledging the contributions of the Filipino community.

“The raising of the flag here at Bowling Green is a symbolic gesture of stating that we acknowledge you, we see you, we know your commitment, your dedication, and how much you have played such a crucial role in the city,” he said.

Adams, emphasizing the need for substantive actions to accompany symbolic gestures, mentioned the appointment of Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer and Commissioner Anne del Castillo as example of empowering and uplifting Filipino Americans in positions of influence and decision-making within his administration.

The mayor also highlighted the significance of the Filipino community’s contributions to various sectors of the city’s economy, including healthcare, small businesses, law enforcement, and the arts. He emphasized the strength and resiliency of New York City and the importance of embracing diverse cultures while upholding the American Dream.

”As the mayor mentioned during his remarks, the raising of the flag is important symbolically but just as or even more important is the fact that there is a representation of Filipino Americans within the administration, both at City Hall and that leadership across the different agencies,” Torres-Springer said. “And that’s critical because Filipino Americans should not just be seen, but their voices, their needs, their challenges, and their potential should be represented in how city government runs and its aspiration.”

The flag-raising ceremony served as a moment of gratitude, celebration, and unity, and by honoring the past and recognizing the present achievements of the Filipino American community, city officials aim to strengthen the ties that bind communities together and promote a future of inclusivity and shared success.

“Today as we hoist both flags of the United States of America and the Philippines, we honor the great City of New York that has made the American dream a reality for many Filipinos,” Mangalile said.

Commissioner Del Castillo, who heads the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment echoed Mangalile’s words, adding that she is grateful to the mayor to serve in this capacity.

“I don’t even have the words to describe the feeling of pride that I have, that my home city is honoring my ancestral homeland on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of Philippine independence, that level of recognition from the greatest city in the world just sends such a signal to the people all over the world of the place that Filipinos have here in New York,” Del Castillo told the local Fil-Am media moments after the event.

As New York City continues to evolve and embrace its diverse communities, events like the flag-raising ceremony serve as reminders that inclusivity and shared power are fundamental to the city’s success. The celebration of Philippine independence serves as a reminder of the importance of heritage, history, and the contributions of all communities that have shaped the vibrant tapestry of New York City. 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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