THE 117th Independence Day celebration of the triumph of Filipinos against foreign rule was held with pomp, revelry and pride in various towns and cities across the country.
There were colorful and long parades accompanied by drum and bugle corps while thousands of young and old participants carried streamers and waved a small replica of the Philippine flag.
The nationwide celebration also included honoring heroes of the Bangsamoro, which was given importance at the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)
“Today is the day when we not only look back at the bravery and greatness of our Filipino heroes, but also look forward to a better future as we collect and claim the gains of their courage and selflessness,” said ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman.
“But we also remember the Moro martyrs who fought for our land. They are those whose stories have been forgotten by time or missed by history books,” he added.
Governor Hataman named some of these brave individuals including Sultan Alimudin and Datu Ache of Sulu; Rajah of Buayan, Silongan; Sultan Mawallil Wasit Bungsu of Jolo; Datu Akadir Amai Pakpak and Datu Ampunagus of Lanao; Kapitan Laut Buisan of Maguindanao and to Sultan Kudarat of Maguindanao.
Hataman mentioned the current struggle of the Bangsamoro, the passage of a bill creating a Bangsamoro entity.
He said the celebration is marked with more meaning and significance “because these days, the Bangsamoro is fighting the enormous battle for self-determination—and this is the essence that fueled the valiancy shown by our forebears.”
“And there are still other challenges ahead of us—the fight against poverty, the fight for justice and peace, the fight for equality, the fight for self-determination,” he added.
In other areas in southern Philippines, only police and military commands convened their troops in their respective areas on Friday morning.
Marawi City, where Friday is classified as a regular non-working day, also did not stage a celebration.
Source of local pride
In Lucena City, City Administrator Anacleto Alcala Jr. delivered a speech in behalf of Mayor Roderick Alcala that focused on the theme “Kalayaan 2015: Tagumpay sa Pagbabagong Nasimulan, Abot-Kamay na ng Bayan” and reflective of the present administration’s modern battle cry of “Sama-sama sa Bagong Lucena” with the renewed call for cooperation towards a more progressive city.
A centerpiece of this year’s revelry was the iconic Nipa Hut or “Bahay Kubo” adorned with “kiping” or rice paste wafers, bamboo and buri or palm leaves inspired by the region’s popular harvest festival, the Pahiyas.
In Bagac town in Bataan, there was a short dramatization of the Battle of Pockets that took place during the Second World War.
Bagac Mayor Rommel de Rosario joined the parade and led the offering of flowers at the foot of the monument of national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.
At the flower-and flag-laden stage in the plaza, different groups performed folk and cultural dances to the delight of the big crowd.
The town recently hosted the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) Workshop on Fiscal Management through Transparency and Reforms and the meeting of Senior Finance officials.
“Ngayon, napakalinis ng ating bayan dahil sa APEC. Sana ipagpatuloy natin ito hindi lamang dahil sa APEC kundi maging simula ito upang ayusin natin ang ating bayan. Magkaisa tayo tulad ng layunin ng APEC (Now, our community is very clean because of APEC. Let us continue this even after APEC. Let us unite, which is the objective ofthe APEC),” the Bagac mayor said.
There were about 4,000 flag-bearing participants to the celebration in San Fernando City led by Mayor Edwin Santiago and other city officials.
They laid wreaths at foot of the monuments of heroes including Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio Ninoy, Jose Abad Santos, Pedro Abad Santos and Nicolasa Dayrit.
“Let us show that we love our freedom by uniting of effort towards the realization of success,” said Santiago.
At the Cebu Provincial Capitol had a wreath-laying ceremony after flag raising. Because Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III is in Iloilo, Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale led the ceremonies. Also present were four provincial board members and Capitol department heads and employees.
The Cebu City Hall, on the other hand, the flag raising activity was led by Mayor Michael Rama, Vice Mayor Edgar Labella with Councilors Noel Wenceslao and Roberto Cabarrubias.
A civic military parade was also held in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. said the celebration of the 117th Independence Day was the greatest thing that happened in Iloilo.
“The decision of President Benigno Aquino III to celebrate Independence Day in Iloilo was an indication of his care and love to the people of Iloilo,” he added.
Further, Defensor said Independence Day will be the time to commemorate the time when Filipino people fight for freedom and independence.
“Independence has real meaning and significance that will be forever treasured in the life of the Filipino people,” Defensor added.