Last June 12 is the 112th Celebration of the Philippines Independence from over three hundred years under the Spain. Our national day, it is of course a red letter day back home, sort of like the U.S.’s 4th of July, a day to renew our love of the country. Back home parades, special reruns of films on our national heroes, and politicians bringing flowers to heroes’ monuments are the most we do; but the regular Filipinos mostly use the day to relax and spend time with the family. Not that we disregard the relevance the day, but we just don’t go all out on June 12 the way we do during barangay fiestas when we give homage to our local patron saints.
However, one thing I learned now that I am abroad is that June 12 is a big deal to Filipinos who are away. I am not the most patriotic Filipina, but I now have first hand experience what it’s like living far away amidst a culture very different from what you grew up in. As a foreigner here in Libya I am expected to respect their culture and way of life, but it is nice to have a day to celebrate your nationality even though we are away. One of JG’s friend put it quite perfectly when she said that this is the day when we Pinoys can really express being Filipinos.
June 7 is also Migrant Workers Day, so the Labor Attache of the Embassy decided to celebrate it June 11 as precedent to the June 12 activities, and a day for Pinoys here in Libya to get together. And in true Filipino spirit a singing and beauty contest was produced.
I would first like to add that as proof of how much the Filipino community wanted to celebrate and get together people still came out even though it was one of the hottest day I have ever experienced. Summer has come here in Tripoli, and the day before some say that the heat spiked to 52 degrees! Yes, it was that hot. The venue was held in a huge tent in the city, often rented for events such as these, apparently it was air conditioned, but even that did not diminish the heat. We fanned and hydrated our way through the program.
Anyway, we Filipinos love to sing, I don’t think there isn’t a family back home that has at least one member that can really belt a tune. Singing contest’s are a big thing there, from the amateur contests in the smallest barangays or city, to the televised kind where one can win as much as a million pesos and a sure ticket to stardom. So why not see what the Libya chapter can do? And sure enough the talents came.
Some came in traditional Filipiniana:
Some came in all out fashion:
This guy won, with his ala Josh Groban rendition:
As for the beauty contest, yours truly was invited to judge. I was excited but has a bit of apprehension since I don’t think I am qualified to judge being that I only started wearing make-up two years ago, and often whose fashion sense is a mix between a 12-year-old and a grandma. I can only gawk at the contestants with their grace in carrying themselves, not to mention their figures. They were all great, from their traditional wear,
to showcasing their talents,
but the winner clinched it with her answer, in the final round.
I hoped everyone had a good time, if it wasn’t for the heat, I think it was a great day. My only regret was that I wasn’t able to sample the Filipino treats in the food stalls stationed outside.
The next day was a simpler, more serene program, on the actual Independence Day. Like I said, the embassy opted to keep it simple with a short program, flag raising, and messages from the leaders of the country back home.
It was nice to see everyone in their traditional clothing, the men in their Barong Tagalogs , an embroidered formal wear, first worn during the spaniards time where they say that Filipinos were made to wear to distinguish them from the ruling class and so that they can see through whether or not the men were carrying weapons. Today, it is commonly worn during formal occasions such as weddings and events.
On a more personal note, the day a bit of a first for me to wear a traditional Filipiniana. For my non-Filipino readers, the Filipiniana is one of the traditional national clothing for Filipinas like me. I’m not kidding you, this is the first time I really wore one, as far as I can remember. I was nervous about it because the Filipiniana is inspired by the timid/modest/graceful/decorous characteristics of a true Filipina, I was nervous because I was afraid I might desecrate what the dress stands for, with my boyish attitude, and how the dress does not go with my slouching-with-semi-stomping signature of a walk. It was a good thing it was early in the morning, so itching wasn’t of a bother, and I avoided walking as much as I can as my heels were killing me. I got through okay, and pictures brought in good reviews from back home (if they only knew what I was going through behind the smile).
Sorry, I am too shy to show off my pictures on the blog,instead, I will post a picture of the food. A perfect Filipino breakfast, ToSiLog and TapSiLog, short for Tocino (sweet pork [or in Libyan standards Sweet Chicken] also Tapa, which is beef) Sinangag (fried rice) and Itlog (friend eggs);
Champorado or chocolate porridge was also served:
And that pretty much sums up my first Independence Day as Diplowife. Here’s to next year. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!