Araw ng Kalayaan Planned for Wetaskiwin


Araw ng Kalayaan Planned for Wetaskiwin

By Darlene Casten

The Philippines gained its independence on June 12, 1998 and the day now serves to bring Filipinos together, wherever they may be living, to celebrate their rights and freedoms.

This year a special Independence Day Ceremony picnic is planned in Wetaskiwin on June 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

There will be entertainment, singers, dancers, games for children a short program and the ambassador from Ottawa will speak.

Philippine Consul General Julius Torres said there will be some food and people are also encouraged to bring a picnic lunch.

Torres serves Alberta and Saskatchewan. He wanted to find a central location where all the kababayans in the region can meet and celebrate Independence Day.

“People can meet their compatriots and network,” he says.

The picnic will be held at Peace Hills Park near the intersection of township road 464 and range road 243 just northwest of Wetaskiwin.

“It is a small city and the mayor is very accommodating and we have a good community there that is willing to organize it,” Torres says.

There are about 200 Filipinos living in Wetaskiwin, he estimates.

However, around 2,000 are expected June 17 for the Independence Day picnic.

“We are expecting people from Edmonton and Calgary of course,” Torres says. “There will also be people from Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Regina and we are hoping Grande Prairie and other places north of Edmonton.”

People can expect to have a good time and experience Filipino hospitality.

“It is a feel-good event,” Torres says.

Last year the Consulate General held an Independence Day gala in Calgary.

He says this event will be more accessible to people from both Alberta and Saskatchewan.

It is important to continue acknowledging the freedoms afforded to Filipinos since it gained its independence, Torres adds.

“We have stayed together through all the trials and tribulations,” he says, noting now Filipinos are able to have their own government and run their country.

“It is not only about our culture, but our politics and our freedom,” he says.

Many Filipinos now living in Canada maintain their Filipino citizenship and can vote freely thanks to those who fought for the country’s freedom 119 years ago.

The celebration will also include Canada’s 150th year of confederation.

“It is also for giving thanks to Canada for the opportunities it gives us,” he says.

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Photo Caption:

Leaders of Filipino communities in Wetaskiwin, Edmonton, Calgary and other areas in Alberta meet with Consul General Julius D. Torres at the Consulate in Calgary o discuss preparations for the Independence Day picnic to be held in Wetaskiwin, AB, on 17 June 2017.