Tūranga Successfully Hosts the 123rd Philippine Independence Day Celebration

Tūranga once again successfully hosted the Philippine Independence Day celebration on Saturday 12 June 2021. For the second year, vibrant and lively Filipino cultural performances warmed up the wintry day at the TSB Space on Hapori Floor. The library also hosted the fun-filled event in 2019.

Many people from all walks of life were riveted by the festivities that included a live band, solo, and choral performances of Filipino pop and folk songs, folk and interpretative dances, a national costume parade, role plays of Filipino rural life, an Arnis (Philippine stick fight) demonstration, Filipino indoor games and colouring-in of Filipino cultural icons.

Filipinos like Sara Solis were delighted by the event and were grateful the library hosted it:

“This event is so significant not only to remember our history but also to cultivate our culture. It’s awesome that it was held here as Tūranga is conveniently located in the city.”

Solis said she felt very patriotic when she sang Lupang Hinirang (Chosen Land), the Philippine national anthem, for the first time in a long while during the event.  Moreover, she was happy that her five-year old daughter Summer had a chance to immerse in her heritage:

“It is important that even if Filipino children are born or grow up here in NZ, they won’t forget their roots.”

Many regular library customers like Sam Masters and his 11-year old daughter Sassa were pleasantly surprised to discover and enjoy the event and like Solis, he was appreciative that it happened in the library.

“The library is amazing, not like the libraries when I was a kid. We were just wandering around, no idea it was on so it was lovely to see. It was beautiful.” 

He said he was particularly captivated by the folk dances.  “The Spanish influence can be seen in the dances. The dance Aray or Ouch! that was cool and interesting!” Sassa, on the other hand, was dazzled by the colourful costumes. 

Masters said that most importantly, the event promoted cultural diversity:

“It’s vital that everybody works together. It’s not like in the past when we’re over here, they are over there. Anyone can come anywhere. It’s one of the great things about New Zealand. It’s critical in the future that people understand diversity and respect it and just be unthreatened by it.” 

The event which commemorated the Philippines’ declaration of independence from 333 years of Spanish rule in 1898, was attended by Carolyn Robertson, Manager, Libraries and Information, Philippine Honorary Consul Nicole Macaballug, Councillor Jimmy Chen, and Aurelia Arona, Manager, Māori Services.

Robertson said in her welcome speech that the library was delighted to host the event while lauding the contribution of over 10,000 Filipinos living in Christchurch:

“There are many sectors in the economy where Filipinos play a very important role. We are honoured to showcase the wonderful artistic and talented performances of this community. This is a great opportunity today to see just how clever and talented they are.”

She said the event also aligned with the goal of the libraries to connect, include, and inform people of all ages and stages, of every walk of life, every interest, every ethnicity to start or strengthen their relationship with libraries:

“We’re really passionate and committed to promote and provide access to our library services, and that includes the expertise of our staff, the wonderful collections, other resources, digital resources that we have, our exhibitions and our programs that are freely available for everyone to enjoy.”

Robertson also acknowledged the various groups in the Filipino community whose participation was crucial to the success of the event such as the Philippine Embassy, Philippine Culture and Migrants Services, Alpha Phi Omega organization, Musika Filipinas Aoteroa, and 6PinzPlusBand, among others.

For her part Aurelia Arona, Manager, Māori Services (whose department organised the event) said the event highlighted inclusivity, cultural connection, and the city's thriving diversity.

"It’s wonderful that we can create and run an event alongside our community with the end result being you can see that people feel welcomed, valued and included and where culture can be celebrated and shared with others, enriching our wider community."

In his speech, Councillor Jimmy Chen thanked the libraries for organising the celebration. By doing so, he said the library not only proved it is a multipurpose and multiservice institution but also that Christchurch is a multicultural city.

Consul Macaballug was also grateful to the libraries and the Christchurch City Council for celebrating the Philippines’ most important day with Filipinos. In her speech, she reminded Filipinos of the lessons of their colonial past.

“We are not perfect but our history has set us up to be people with tools and experiences of working alongside individuals not just our own but from all walks of life, and this I believe is what we celebrate today.”

She said because of their unique history, Filipinos can be global citizens and ambassadors of resilience and asked every Filipino to give back to their communities.

“I think New Zealand stands for equality, and the Philippines stands for love. Love of family, love of service and love of God, and love of country too. I encourage you to give back, contribute and be role models of tolerance and resiliency in your communities. It is after all, in your DNA.”

Photos of Philippine Independence Day celebrations

Philippine Independence Day Celebrations at Tūranga


More Filipino resources

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