Today, the nation celebrates its 119th Independence Day to mark the day in 1898 when Filipinos gained freedom from centuries of Spanish rule. Philippine Independence was formally declared on June 12, 1898, with the reading of the Proclamation of Independence in Kawit, Cavite. The Proclamation was prepared and read by Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista and signed by 98 delegates, including General Emilio Aguinaldo.
This year’s theme is “Kalayaan 2017: Pagbabago Sama-Samang Balikatin.” The traditional wreath-laying at the Aguinaldo Tomb will be followed by flag-raising at the Shrine’s veranda. The Aguinaldo Mansion’s balcony, which used to be a window, on Tirona Highway (then called Calle Real) was where the original Proclamation of Independence was read. The Philippine national anthem composed by Julian Felipe was first played and the Philippine flag was unfurled on June 12, 1898.
A program focusing on this year’s theme has been prepared, starting with a morning parade and band playing and cultural commemorative activities later in the day. There will also be trade and job fairs, lights and sounds presentations, and other historical activities to mark the day.
Filipino communities and expatriates in other parts of the world organize parades and other events to celebrate Independence Day. Early this month, Philippine beauty queens Pia Wurtzbach, Megan Young, and Kylie Verzosa graced the 119th Independence Day celebration and 27th NYC annual parade in New York City. This is considered the largest among Philippine Independence celebrations in the United States that is held every first Sunday of June and draws over 100,000 people.
In the Philippines, schools will be displaying the Philippine flag, and military or civic parades and cultural presentations will be held. There will be an Exhibit on government programs and services at the Rizal Park.
This year’s theme underscores the fact that the responsibility of safeguarding our independence lies on the shoulder of every citizen and institution of this country. It likewise significantly points to the need for unity among Filipinos, regardless of political, social, cultural, ethnic, economic, and religious affiliation.
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