Filipinos ‘occupy’ key NY avenue for 7 hours
NEW YORK: While Britons feted their 86-year-old Queen with a fluvial pageant on the Thames and the New York Yankees dealt the Detroit Tigers a 5-1 defeat last Sunday, Filipinos spilled out on midtown Manhattan for an advance “Araw ng Kalayaan” parade.
As they number only 270,000, Filipinos in Metropolitan New York are assigned an 11-block stretch of Madison Ave. for their yearly parade and cultural bash. Fifth Ave., a grander route, is only for the big boys, such as the Irish and Puerto Ricans.
Filipinos from the city’s five boroughs and others in neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut flocked to the Big Apple for the Sunday fiesta. New Yorkers used to celebrations of national communities generally ignored the temporary bother.
* * *
DINAGYANG MISSED: A drizzle did not dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd of almost 100,000 that jammed Madison, the stage on 27th Street and the food-souvenir stalls on the sidewalk from 26th to 24rd Streets.
Enjoying brisk sale were such distinctly Filipino items as barbecue, other skewered stuff, and halu-halo. Sago-gulaman sold for $3 (P135!) in one plastic cup.
On the west side of the avenue, straddling Madison Square Park, was a two-block display of merchandise, services and corporate offerings. Stalls were festooned with small Philippine flags.
Providing entertainment on stage were Fil-Am artists, singers and dancers. Showbiz never fails among Filipinos.
Residents said they missed last year’s big hit, the award-winning “Dinagyang” street performers from Iloilo. Maybe Dinagyang, Ati-atihan or their variations could be brought in next year?
* * *
PANATAG FLOAT: Philippine Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. came down from Washington, DC, to join Ambassador Mario de Leon Jr. (consul-general in New York) and other officials for the seven-hour celebration.
The affair was organized by the Philippine Independence Day Council, an umbrella coordinator for the more than 260 Fil-Am organizations in the area. The PIDC president is Fe Martinez. Dr. Prospero A. Lim was the parade marshal.
The program being a private-sector activity, it is hoped that Beijing will not make an issue of one of the floats calling attention to the Philippines-China territorial dispute over the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoals off Zambales.
On the float were persons in dark robes piercing a dragon with spears. Emblazoned on its side was “China’s claim: No basis in international law.” On its front was the name “Filipino Veterans” and on its back was “Filipinos for Good Governance.”
* * *
ANNUAL FETE: The Independence Day celebration here has been an annual activity of the Filipino community for the past 23 years. (On June 12, 1898, the Philippines under then Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo unfurled its own flag and declared itself an independent republic.)
Traditionally, an “Araw ng Kalayaan” reception on June 12 or thereabouts is hosted in Washington, DC, by the Philippine ambassador. It is said that in that single party, the chief of mission normally spends more than his whole-year allowance.
That is one of the reasons why the ambassador to Washington, as also in London, Tokyo, Paris and other expensive posts, must be independently rich and able to spend out of pocket.
* * *
P-NOY IN U.K.: By the time this comes out, President Noynoy Aquino would be in London starting a 10-day two-country trip aimed at attracting major foreign investments while cementing bilateral ties with allies.
On June 4-6, the President will be in the United Kingdom where, among other activities, he will dialogue on various subjects with Prime Minister David Cameron at the latter’s official residence at 10 Downing Street.
From London, the President will fly on to Washington to confer with President Barack Obama on a still unspecified agenda. His delegation will be received separately by State Secretary Hillary Clinton.
Usually more outspoken than her President, Clinton is expected to reiterate US commitment to stand by its ally if anything untoward happens as a result of China’s expansionist excursions in the South China Sea.
* * *
NO N.Y. VISIT: President Aquino is not scheduled yet to drop by New York, if preparations are any indication. If he is coming over, the place will already be crawling with security teams, but their absence is noticeable.
If business, finance and investment were top items on the President’s agenda requiring his personal attention, he would normally include New York in his itinerary.
Palace sources said that in his stead, he is sending a high-powered group of respected businessmen to handle this special concern. They will have with them a top-level team of finance, trade and banking officials.
* * *
HOT TOPIC: Friends here ask if former Chief Justice Renato C. Corona is “finished.” I usually confess that I do not know, but add that it actually depends on how he picks himself up.
Corona could use his unconditional waiver of the confidentiality of his bank accounts and his candid admission of his keeping dollar deposits to lead a campaign for transparency and honesty in government.
What if the administration files criminal charges against him? Actually he has a better chance of acquitting himself before a court of law than before a bunch of senators cringing for patronage and political survival.
The cruelty displayed by the administration in going after a man who has admitted doing what his accusers themselves are also doing has not escaped the attention of many despite the unrelenting character assassination in the Yellow media.