“I tell you, if you’re in the front row of the parade and you stop walking, pretty soon you’re back in the tuba section. And if you want to lead the parade you’ve got to keep moving.”
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — IN absence of perennial Philippine Independence Day Parade in New York City participant, Iloilo City’s Dinagyang Festival, Cebu City’s Sinulog Festival was center of attraction during the 121st Philippine Independence Anniversary Commemoration parade June 2 in New York City.
Aside from Dinagyang Festival, also missed by the crowd in this year’s parade along Madison Avenue in the Manhattan borough, was Guimaras’ Manggahan Festival, which debuted in the 120th edition last year.
The double Western Visayas participation was led last year by Iloilo City Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III and Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation boss Ramon Cua Locsin for the Dinagyang Festival and Guimaras Governor Samuel Gumarin and the provincial officials of Guimaras for the Manggahan Festival.
Also a repeat parade participant was Bacolod City’s Masskara Festival performed by US-based Bacolodnons.
Like other religious and cultural festivals in the Philippines that honor the miraculous image of Santo Niño, Sinulog is a dance ritual that moves to the sound of the drums and this resembles the current (Sulog) of what was then known as Cebu’s Pahina River.
They say it’s Sinulog in Cebuano. More than just the meaning of the word is the dance’s significance.
The Sinulog Festival is a traditional celebration in Cebu City held every third Sunday of January to honor the Santo Niño (Child Jesus) for 32 years now. The festival is basically done by a dance ritual, in which it tells the story of the Filipino people’s pagan past and their acceptance of Christianity.
The annual New York City parade, supervised by the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. with the cooperation of the Philippine Consulate General in New York, aimed to create awareness of Philippine culture and to raise funds for charity projects in the Philippines and the United States.
The Philippine Independence Day celebration in the northeastern United States includes not only New York but also the 12 states under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Consulate General in New York, namely, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Depending on the theme each year, the overall chairperson may expand and invite other areas to participate in PIDC’s many activities.
Traditionally held along Madison Avenue from 37th to 25th Streets in Manhattan, the climax of the preparation, the Philippine Independence Day Parade, Street Fair and Cultural Show, held on the first Sunday in June each year is the biggest celebration of Philippine Independence outside the Philippines.
The Street Fair and Cultural Show take place on the east side of Madison Square Park. The festivities include a beauty, brains and talent contest that concludes in the Diwa ng Kalayaan (Spirit of Independence) Selection and Coronation Pageant and Gala, Philippine Independence Ball (the culminating festivity of the annual commemoration held on the Saturday after the first Sunday in June), An Evening with the Consul General, the Grand Marshal Gala, other fund raising activities, special cultural presentations and other events that may be initiated by the overall chairperson.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)