June 12, 2019, marks the 121st year celebration of the Philippines’ independence from the 300-year Spanish regime to a land that was previously known as “Las Islas Filipinas”.
The country’s theme this year is “Kalayaan 2019: Pagbabagong Ipinaglaban, Alay sa Masaganang Kinabukasan.”, which literally translates into, “Freedom 2019: The hard-fought progress, our sacrifice for a bountiful future”.
Where is the celebration in Ghent?
The Philippine Independence Day is celebrated each year in Zuidpark, Ghent. This time, it is called “Freedom of Love: The role of love in freedom of humanity”. The theme celebrates the responsibility of love through the years to attain freedom in today’s humanity.
The event that took place in Gent last June 8, 2019, was organized by Kaangayan Multicultural Club Gent. The whole day of celebration in the park was packed with fun activities from parlor games for children, a talent competition, a parade spearheaded by the organizer together with the Ghent City Mayor, Mathias De Clercq, a fashion show(showcasing the different Philippine costumes over the years), and a talk show. Not to forget the Filipino booths that brought the Philippines to Belgium with their freshly cooked Filipino cuisines, Filipino local products, and other retail goods all for sale.
The occasion would not be completed without the opening remarks from the head of Kaangayan Multicultural Club Ghent, Mrs. Aileen De Craene and speeches by special guests including the Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Mr. Eduardo Jose A. de Vega and the City Mayor of Ghent, Mr. Mathias De Clercq.
Ambassador Eduardo Jose A. de Vega cited in his speech, the importance of the city of Ghent to Philippine’s independence. As what the history tells, Jose Rizal published the first manuscripts of the novel “El Filibusterismo” at F. Meyer van Loo Press, Ghent, Belgium in 1891. His Excellency also shared in his talk about the final exam he did in 1991 to become a Philippine diplomat. In which, he had to do an impromptu speech about Jose Rizal. Finally, he added that it would be a Philippine pride if the Ghent city Mayor, Mr. Mathias De Clercq names one of the streets in the city after Jose Rizal, the Philippines’ national hero.
The Philippine Independence Day is a yearly celebration not only for people in the Philippines but also for 10.2 million Filipinos presently situated abroad. For over 12,000 Filipino expats, migrants, and OFWs currently living in Belgium, a yearly gathering like Independence Day is a great avenue for unity. It is their way of remembering their history and celebrating the fruit of their labor and the prosperous future ahead.