An estimated 100,000 people were in attendance, according to the NYPD - easily the largest gathering of Filipinos outside the Motherland.
New York, NY - It is a booming Filipino tradition that New York has learned to embrace.
Every first Sunday of June, kababayans flock to Madison Square Park to promote national pride, all in recognition of our country's day of autonomy. And on a sunny June 2nd, thousands of proud Pinoys came out for the 115th Philippine Independence Day Anniversary.
There is a bigger, prouder feeling to this year's festivities in comparison to years past. The spirit of the Filipino is vibrant, reflecting this incredible renaissance period that our people are currently experiencing.
Grandiose floats, marching bands, colorful costumes, and notable Philippine celebrity adorned the streets from 38th to 24th Street, all to the delight of an estimated record of 100,000 people. As our crew made our way through the 14-block stretch, one could feel the jubilance in the crowd. Our cameras were treated to enthusiastic cheers, people dancing on the street, and the sight of utter craziness when Sharon Cuneta's float passed by, with everyone running to get a closer glimpse of her and fellow actors Aga Mulach and Derek Ramsay.
"Ate Shawee" and Aga, to the delight of the crowd:
Organized by the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc., 2013's celebration kicked off at 12 noon, with the parade spearheaded by this year's Grand Marshall, Dr. Rebecca Castro Rivera and guests such as Philippine Consul General Mario L. de Leon, Jr. and Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations, His Excellency Libran Cabactulan.
They are also joined by Philippine and US Government officials, and as previously mentioned, popular figures from back home. Representing three major television networks in the Philippines, Cuneta, Ramsay and Mulach carried the banner for TV5, Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr., Marian Rivera, Julie Anne San Jose and Rafael Rosell represented GMA, and the man who closed the festivities with a very powerful performance, Mr. Gary Valenciano (from ABS-CBN) brought the house down with his son Gabriel.
As always, the area along Madison Square park was also very busy, with long lines of hungry patrons craving for a taste of home. We met, for instance, the awesome folks from "Ray's Famous BBQ," who are also the first operators of a Filipino food cart in New York City. We also met up with the new and exciting Inasal NYC, proprietors of the delicious signature chicken from Bacolod City, and the good folks from ABS-CBN's "Bantay Bata" initiative, who were there to promote awareness for child-abuse in the Philippines.
Our presence as this generation's Filipino is being felt, and we should all be so proud.
Check out the gallery:
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(Photos by our own Jose Mercado)