On the day itself of the 125th Philippine Independence from Spanish rule on June 12, more than a hundred guests, city and county officials, supporters and residents of the City of San Jose and beyond, many clad in Filipino Barongs and native Maria Clara and other Filipiñana attire gathered around the City Hall main flagpole, sang the American and Philippine national anthems while they witnessed the American flag and Philippine flag raised one after the other.
Not minding the warm heat of the sun while enjoying the late afternoon breeze at the same time, participants also witnessed dancers in native costume display their terpsichorean skills dancing Bulaklakan and Paypayan de Manila before everyone were led inside the City Hall premises to continue with the program where speakers from different groups and organizations were heard. Masters of ceremonies were Michelle Amores and Rose Flores.
Bayanihan FilAm Foundation’s (BFF) community leader Evangeline Sanggalang delivered the opening remarks and the context of the event pitching the BFF main purpose to be the mainstream, not the extreme, in serving a lot of Kababayan (fellowmen) being part of the diaspora among the biggest Filipino community.
“We are conducting this event here in San Jose mainly because we are holding true to one of our popular Filipino saying ‘ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan’,” Sanggalang reminded everyone.
“We are also here to celebrate the proud Filipino American community we have here in San Jose as we celebrate the hard-fought struggle for freedom represented by the Philippine Republic but also the struggle of Filipinos across our country embodied by our Filipino farmworkers (like Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz) beside Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and others. We remember that last year, we unanimously voted for the naming of Delano Manongs Park as District 5’s memory of the contribution of the Delano Manongs’ to the fight for economic justice,” underscored Mahan on the importance of Filipinos in San Jose the comprise 6% of the city’s population or around 60,000 residents who are in the fields of business, armed forces, education, healthcare, among others.
Cohen of District 4 voiced out that the gathering was for special reasons to strengthen the community, promote cultural community and embrace extraordinary talents.
“I recently learned the meaning of Bayanihan to formulate program together to help individuals and communities achieve a common goal. Bayanihan is deeply ingrained in the Filipino culture that makes Filipino community in San Jose truly exceptional,” said Cohen. “Together we can overcome challenges and create a bright future for our community by abiding by the spirit of Bayanihan.”
District 5’s Ortiz spoke of how San Jose has been blessed by the contribution the ever-growing Filipino community that is now 60,000-strong.
“Our country and region owe the Filipino American community a great debt of gratitude starting with the struggles of the like of Larry Itliong, Philip vera Cruz and the Delano manongs who played a vital pivotal role in the labor strikes and great boycotts among grape workers,” Ortiz recalled. “In short the Filipino community has provided this city great leaders in culture, labor, faith and business. And it is inspiring to see their contributions immortalized through the Delano Manongs Park.”
In expressing his gratitude to the officials of San Jose City, Santa Clara County and BFF for spearheading the event, ConGen Ferrer talked of 2023 as the kickoff on the commemoration for recalling significant events to pave the way for the establishment of Asia’s first constitutional and democratic republic.
“We also this day the culmination of 333 years of Spanish colonial rule and the day that the Philippine National Anthem was played and heard for the very first time. Next year 2024, we will commemorate 125 years since the promulgation of the first Philippine Constitution and the inauguration of the first Philippine Republic both of which were the first in Asia. The other pivotal moments in the history of the Philippines that we remember include the 125 anniversaries of the start the Philippine-American War February 4, 2024, the American capture of President Emilio Aguinaldo and end of the first Philippine Republic on March 23, 2026.”
Ferrer added that the watershed moments in Philippine history remind of the struggles Filipino people have endured and the sacrifices that Filipinos had to make in defense of freedom.
For the multi-year anniversary of mentioned events, Ferrer shared that the Philippine government has chosen the theme Kalayaan, Kasaysayan, Kinabukasan (Freedom, History, Future).
Other guests included Filipina South San Francisco Mayor Flor Nicolas who found the event a great opportunity and a wonderful occasion “wherein all our kababayans will be here to be acknowledged as one of the movers and shakers of the San Francisco Bay Area.”
“This event is very significant because us Filipinos are living in the U.S. we still acknowledge our Motherland the Philippines and makes us all proud to be Filipinos,” Nicolas stressed.
One of the many adopted Filipinas who was at the event, former Milpitas Vice Mayor and Council Member Karina Dominguez, was glad to celebrate with Filipinos in the event.