On the 114th Celebration of Philippine Independence in Muscat

So this week was the mother of all “busy”, simply because last week was June 12, which is the celebration of the Philippine’s Independence. This year marks our country’s 114th celebration from the Spanish Colony.  A bit of history for you, technically, our supposed Independence from Spain in 1896, meant the beginning of being under the Americans, to which we were technically really freed as an Independent Republic on July 4, 1946. For about 16 years, we celebrated the same Independence Day with the US, until our former President Diosdado Macapagal issued Presidential Proclamation No. 28 (I think) and officially changed it to June 12.

Anyway, my last post on Independence Day celebration was two years ago, when we were still in Libya, before last year’s civil war there broke out, to which basically is the reason why there was no posts on that one .

This year is a bit memorable for me because as part of the celebration, the Embassy inaugurated a small Filipiniana library and cultural center/hall that I proudly help build. It was project initiated by the Ambassador and his wife, when they found out that there were not many libraries here in Muscat. It is nothing big, but thanks to collaborative efforts from the Embassy staff, and a Ladies Group headed by the Madam, we transformed a small conference room at the Embassy into Sentro Rizal (named after our National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal, and was fashioned after the original Sentro Rizal which is in Manila of our National Commission on Culture and the Arts). There are several other Sentro Rizal’s in Europe I think, but the new one here in Muscat is the first in the Middle-East.

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… and the shiny new bust of our National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal to which the center is named after. His podium has a plaque engraved with his famous quote “Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinangalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.” (I suggest you ask a Filipino friend or look up its translation since it is a bit hard to explain.)

I think this is the first time I have been so proud about being part of something in a long time because I honestly am not the most active when it comes projects and what-nots. Sure I can say, I had to do it since this was JG’s Boss’s Wife’s project, and I could’ve easily just bowed out, but reading and encouraging others to read is something I really like doing, especially thinking about the Filipino kids growing up here, who do not have access to book s about home. Okay sure, we have the internet, and there is of course a Philippine School here, not to mention the ever popular “Filipino Channel”; but we have hopes that Sentro Rizal can be a place where things like poetry reading, film showing, and exhibits can be held so that Filipinos and even the locals can come and learn more about our heritage and culture.

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The shiny new sign on the entrance of the new cultural center and library…

So back to our Independence Day Celebration, aside from the inauguration is the annual flag raising and singing of the National Anthem, which is of course an outdoor thing. Nothing to it, except Muscat in June is the start of the summer season. Even by May, temperatures have begun to rise, and towards the end of that Month, it has already gotten to as high as 41 degrees Celsius.  So to avoid anyone fainting from heat stroke, the Flag Raising part was scheduled at 6:30 in the morning, and even that early, it still felt like being cooked in an oven. Pictures would show how everyone’s face were crunched up as if we were all so unhappy about what was really a festive occasion.

And then of course, there is also the part where the community celebrates, to which a less formal setting was organized. This year, a Filipino celebrity was flown all the way from Manila to headline the program. They brought in a singer, Bugoy Drillon who has a “Rags to Riches” story; if you are not familiar with him, he used to be a Maintenance guy from the province and joined a popular singing contest back home which jump started his career. Anyway, I was glad he was the one who performed because I wasn’t so keen on this part to be honest; I am not very fond of our celebrities back home.

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This year’s celebrity guest Bugoy Drillon, he was nice, and a really good singer too, everybody went crazy for him.

In MY opinion, a lot of them are just a bunch of talentless meztisos and meztisas. But Bugoy was this fun, down to earth, and really talented singer who was just really happy to be here. I met him during lunch at the embassy, and he surprised me when he shook my hand and bowed, as if I was royalty of some sort. Sure he wasn’t the best looking of celebrities, but everybody loved him and went crazy for him just the same if only for his singing abilities and his enthusiasm to do so.

And that is my official entry on this year’s Independence Day celebration, I am glad I got through all those preparations, must have been one of the busiest few days I have had. So busy I neglected some other personal stuff like school (did I mention I was studying?), and of course my perpetual chores in the house.  So I haven’t really had time to wind down, as I am now trying my best to catch up on the stuff I had to neglect in the name of Reading, and commemorating our country’s National Day.  Wonder what will happen next year though?

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