Saipan’s Filipino community gathered to celebrate the 123rd Philippines Independence Day last Saturday, holding events in the morning and afternoon to commemorate the Philippines’ declaration of independence from Spain on June 12, 1898. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Diwa ng kalayaan sa pagkakaisa at paghilom ng bayan” (spirit of freedom for national unity and healing) as the Philippines begins its road to recovery in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saturday’s celebrations began with the raising of the Philippine flag at Marianas High School at 7am, followed by a gathering at the school’s cafeteria, where Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed the CNMI-Republic of the Philippines Friendship proclamation. In the afternoon, leaders of the Filipino community held a motorcade that began at Dandan Middle School and ended at Garapan Fishing Base.
In signing the CNMI-Republic of the Philippines Friendship proclamation, Torres thanked the many Filipino workers who have come to the CNMI for decades and recognized the community’s many contributions to the CNMI and its economy.
In remarks after signing the proclamation, Torres spoke of the roles that many Filipinos played in developing the CNMI, and spoke of how the later generations of Filipinos who have grown up in the CNMI go on to do great things for the community.
“On behalf of my wife and lieutenant governor I want to thank you for not just making the CNMI your home, but also [for] your children for representing the CNMI,” said Torres, who also took part in a ceremonial cake slicing alongside Philippine honorary consul to the CNMI Glicerio “Eli” Arago.
United Filipino Organization president Marcelo Masilungan, Delegate Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, and TanHoldings president Jerry Tan as representative of the CNMI’s business sector also gave remarks at the event.
Sablan drew many parallels between the CNMI’s and the Philippines’ histories and how thousands of Filipinos have made the Marianas “a second home.”