CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Philippine Independence Day a big splash in Chater Road

HONG KONG (SE): The Philippine flag, which rightly claims a place in both its own history and that of Hong Kong, was flown proudly in Chater Road, Central, on June 12, at the local Filipino community’s celebration of their nation’s 118th anniversary of the declaration of independence from Spanish colonial rule.

The very first Philippine flag had been sewn and embroidered in Hong Kong at a small house in Wan Chai by the loving hands of an exile from her native land, Doña Marcela Agoncillo, with the help of her seven-year-old daughter, Lorenza Agoncillo, and Delfina Herbosa Natividad, a niece of the inspirational revolutionary hero, José Rizal.

As the organisers of the gala event took advantage of a break in the torrential rain that splashed the road from a darkened sky, the flag was carried in solemn procession under the protection of the smartly uniformed International Martial Arts Society and the traditionally clad Musang International Hong Kong Women’s Martial Arts group.

Drummed through the street to a military beat from the Hong Kong Mindanao Workers Federation, a moment of silence recalled the maiden airing of the flag on 28 May 1898 during the decisive Battle of Alapan in Imus City, two weeks prior to the formal declaration of the Republic of The Philippines by Emilio Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite, on June 12 of the same year, where the flag proudly flew again.

They were followed by staff from the consulate general and dozens of community groups in the city, some dressed colourfully in the traditional costumes of their provinces, others in group uniforms and yet others in imaginative outfits, including shirts in the design and colours of the national flag.

All stood at attention for the singing of the national anthem.

In congratulating the gathering on reaching another milestone in the nation’s history, the Philippine consul general to Hong Kong, Bernardita Catalla, described the day as being a celebration of what is best in the Filipino people.

Despite the rain that refused to go away, a colourful cultural programme reached its climax with a spectacular dance in the red, blue, yellow and white of the national flag.

To the background of eerie creation-themed music, dancers slowly rose from the ground like a world bursting into life and in dance depicted the chaos out of which the coming of order gave birth to a nation with the human formation of the national flag.

The colourfully decorated street was lined with booths advertising services from financial literacy to health care, artifact-making to legal education, giving another life to the day-long celebration.

The first flag had been carried back to The Philippines from Hong Kong by members of the first Revolutionary Committee (Hong Kong Junta) and government in exile led by Aguinaldo, which sat in the then-British colony.

They had close ties with China. Rizal, and the father of the first republic in China, Sun Yat-sen, had formed a close friendship and Filipino historian, Nellie Fung, relates how her grandfather was involved with Sun in the supplying of arms in the 1890s.

The Philippines has also been a haven for Chinese people, especially from Guangdong, in times of famine, and contact and trade between the two counties can be traced back to 982.

But independence did not bring peace and a terrible war and long period of United States of America domination was to be the next stage in the struggle for a free nation.

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