09 June 2012, Tel Aviv, Israel – After barely a month of preparations by the new set of officers of the Federation of the Filipino Communities in Israel, FFCI gathered together more than 600 community leaders and members, including Israelis, at the Duhl Theater in Hatikva, Tel Aviv to celebrate the 114th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence. The venue was filled with colorful decorations, mostly red, blue and yellow, representing the Philippine flag. Banderitas, Philippine flaglets and custom-made booths serving traditional Filipino dishes added delight to the festive mood of the audience.
Ambassador Generoso D.G. Calonge was the Guest of Honor of the evening celebration. The officers and staff of the Philippine Embassy also joined the crowd and witnessed the evening filled with cultural presentations from the different community organizations in Israel. Philippine peacekeepers in the Golan Heights also attended the celebration and rendered a surprise cultural dance number.
In his inspirational message, Ambassador Calonge greeted the crowd and commended the FFCI and all community organizations for their efforts and contributions to the success of the 2012 Independence Day celebration. Speaking in Filipino, the Ambassador said that "...ang araw ng kalayaan ay di lamang pagunita sa araw na inihayag ang ating lubusang kalayaan makalipas ang daan-daan taong pananakop. Ito ay paalala sa lahat, lalo na sa kabataan, na ang kasarinlan o kalayaan ay isang karapatan ng bawat Pilipino na minana natin sa ating mga ninuno. Ang bawat Pilipino, saan man sa mundo, ay may dakilang layunin na ipagtanggol ang ating bayang sinilangan laban sa mga dayuhang gustong umangkin sa tinatamasa nating kalayaan at kasarinlan..." [The Philippine national day is not just a day to celebrate the declaration of our independence from centuries-long colonial rule. It is a reminder, especially to our children, that our freedom, be it in terms of ignorance or fear, is a sovereign right we inherited from our forefathers. Each and every Filipino, anywhere in the world, has a solemn duty to serve and protect the motherland against all forms of aggression that threaten our independence and sovereignty.]
This year, muses and escorts and some member organizations of FFCI joined a friendly competition to display individual and collective talents. Best Ethnic Wear, Cultural Dances, Little Mr. and Ms. Independence, Mr. and Ms. Independence, Best Group, and Best Booth were the categories of the competition. Philippine Embassy staff and some members of the Filipino community served as judges of the event.
The annual celebration of Philippine independence is the highlight of FFCI's projects for the year, aside from the Flores de Mayo in tandem with Labor Day celebrations. These two occasions are platforms where our workers showcase their talents and love for our traditions manifested in folkdances and singing. Our workers spend their hard-earned money to finance their colorful ethnic and Filipiniana attires that are worn and paraded during the celebration. It is noteworthy that the spirit of nationalism and patriotism of our workers is very much alive and is deeply cherished despite their distance from the Philippines. Their introduction to new culture due to the nature of their work has not diminished their love for their country. —END—