Fil-Ams mark PH independence, have message for Duterte
LOS ANGELES—Hundreds of Filipino-Americans paraded through the historic Filipinotown district in Los Angeles yesterday (Sunday in Manila) to celebrate the 118th Philippine Independence Day.
Cheering crowds watched a marching band, local beauty queens on floats, community leaders in a convoy of cars, Harley-Davidson motorcycle riders in formation, and dozens of participants marching while waving Philippine flags.
A group of youths, dressed in Igorot costume, danced in the streets.
“We want to show everyone that Filipino-Americans are united and have a great deal to contribute to the community, this city and the nation,” said Bernie Ganon, assistant executive director of the nonprofit Filipino-American Service Group Inc., one of the event organizers.
More than 30 organizations participated, including the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines-USA Chapter, whose members paraded a banner with a message for President-elect Rodrigo Duterte: “Stop Media Killings.”
“It’s not just about celebrating Philippine independence, it’s about freedom—and reminding Filipinos to fight for real freedom in the homeland,” said another organizer, Arturo Garcia, national coordinator of Justice for Filipino American Veterans.
“It’s a very significant time to celebrate Independence Day since we have new leadership back home,” said Ganon, who is also president of Fil-Am International. “I hope that the new leadership tries to become more inclusive and not foster partisan politics and regionalism.”
One longtime parade-goer, 79-year-old Aurora de la Cruz Medina, came dressed in colorful Filipiniana attire.
“I’ve been attending Independence Day parades and events here and in Carson for many years,” said Medina, a resident of Long Beach who hails from Hagonoy, Bulacan. “These events are important to me. They remind us to cherish our freedom. We have to be a good model for the next generation and show them that we continue to defend our freedom for their sake.”
Medina said she hoped the new Philippine leaders would steer the government in the right direction so the country could overcome its many challenges, including the exodus of talented and skilled Filipinos to other countries in search of greener pastures.
“It’s sad that we have a brain drain in the homeland,” she said. “For example, my three children—an engineer, a manager in the aerospace industry and a supervisor in the US Navy—excel in their fields and they have been contributing their skills to America when they could be helping our home country instead.”
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