In celebration of the 120th Philippine Independence Day, government officials and Filipinos in the CNMI led by Philippine honorary consul to the CNMI Glicerio Arago gathered at the Kanoa Resort early morning yesterday for the traditional flag-raising.
Among those who attended the flag-raising ceremony were Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Saipan Mayor David Apatang, Rep. Edwin K. Propst (Ind-Saipan), House Speaker Rafael Demapan, (R-Saipan), Alice Igitol (R-Saipan), Vice Speaker Janet Maratita (R-Saipan), Rep. Angel Demapan (R-Saipan), and Rep. Jose Itibus (R-Saipan).
Most of the men were clad in the traditional Philippine attire called barong tagalog, while the women were in traditional Filipiniana.
Aside from the flag-raising, another highlight of the ceremony was the signing of Northern Mariana Islands- Philippines Friendship Month proclamation.
The purpose of the proclamation was to recognize the contributions made by Filipinos and those of Filipino ancestry to the socio-economic as well as the cultural development of the Northern Mariana Islands.
The proclamation also cited the special relationship between the Northern Mariana Islands and the Philippines, forged through years of close alliance and camaraderie.
“Thank you for calling the CNMI your home. Our historic friendship has been the foundation of our economic growth and development as a Commonwealth, and we hope to continue this progress moving forward together,” said Torres.
According to Arago, the Independence Day celebration has grown into a collective commemoration that also honors Philippines’ allies, partners, and friends.
“The CNMI, its government and its people, have embraced us [Filipinos] wholeheartedly because of our shared belief of peaceful coexistence. For more than 30 years that I have considered Saipan my second home, I can sincerely say that the CNMI and our Filipino community have become firm friends and partners. This beautiful and peaceful community has embraced and accepted us wholeheartedly,” he said.
This year’s Independence Day theme is “Kalayaan 2018: Pagbabagong Ipinaglaban, Alay sa Masaganang Kinabukasan.”
“Our offering for a progressive future defines our strength as Filipinos, rooted in our love of country and respect for others,” said Arago.
Messages from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Philippine Consul Marciano de Borja, Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez, and Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano were read aloud at yesterday’s ceremony.