On June 12, 2020, we celebrated the 122nd year of Philippine Independence at the Embassy, led by the Philippine Ambassador to France and Monaco. It was different from the previous years’ celebrations for several reasons.
Last year’s Philippine Independence Day celebration and Diplomatic Reception was held at the historic Mona Bismarck hotel in Paris. We wore our elegant Filipiniana attires and we welcomed many guests, had conversations with them, and enjoyed the hotel’s ambiance. That time, the book “The Philippines and France: Discovery, Rediscovery” was also launched. As part of the celebration, the Embassy also organized an Independence Day Concert in 2019 featuring the Filipino string ensemble, Pundaquit Virtuosi.
This time, not many guests could be invited because there’s a requirement to limit the number of people considering the need for physical distancing. Also, we had to wear masks all throughout the ceremony, from the singing of the Philippine National Anthem, to the recitation of the “Panatang Makabayan,” to the reading of the messages of the Philippine President and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs.
But of course, since it’s a day for a celebration, we had a simple yet sumptuous salu-salo. Stories and laughter, at times serious conversations, were exchanged during breakfast.
Back home in the Philippines, my family prepared special Pinoy dishes for the occasion. Even my Ate who’s residing in England, prepared Filipino food, including biko (this is a native snack made from glutinous rice, cooked in coconut milk and cane sugar, which my mom usually prepares when there are special events at home) in order to commemorate the day, as well as to introduce my pamangkins to Filipino food. The kids loved the snacks!
I loved the day because it’s both a holiday and a Friday. 😀 Kidding aside, it was a very interesting day for me because it’s different from the usual. I got to wear my Filipiniana attire, had a breakfast with my colleagues and had a photo op with my team.
I also got the time to do some work, had a French breakfast-Korean lunch-Pinoy dinner day, watched a movie in the evening, and did a sketch of the Embassy grounds where the bust of the Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose Protacio Rizal is situated, and where the the red-blue-white Philippine flag flutters gently in the wind.
The day also brought with it the usual musings about freedom and love of country. I thought of the many challenges the Philippines is currently facing and how things could be improved in several areas. I also thought of writing the usual lengthy “Independence Day” sentiments/essays/posts but I simply chose “Maligayang anibersaryo ng ika-122 taon ng kasarinlan ng mahal kong bansang Pilipinas!” 🙂