The 112th Philippine Independence Day Celebrations at Luneta: A Reflection

A century and 12 years later, the Republic of the Philippines celebrated its freedom from the Spanish Empire with a float, performance and parade gala at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta, Manila. Since this is the last year of the outgoing president Gloria Arroyo, the government allotted PhP10 million for the whole programme. The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (Yes, another name change. It was National Historical Institute) was the main organizer of the programme “Kalayaan 2010″ (Freedom 2010). I wasn’t able to see the traditional flag raising at Aguinaldo’s House at Kawit (its too early! Good luck at baka trapik sa Binakayan galing dito sa Imus!) so I went to Luneta that afternoon for the civic and military parade.

Dinagyang of Iloilo performing at Independence Day rites

As usual, Quirino Grandstand has been the venue of such parades in history. Americans did it here. Luneta is one big park comparable to Washington DC’s “The Mall.” In any case, Roxas Boulevard was full of “MIUs” or Men In Uniform (police, military, pulis oyster) and looks like the military parade has been finished. Oh well, there is something left to watch anyway.


To my surprise, Iloilo’s Dinagyang Festival and Candaba Pampanga’s Ibun-Ebun Festival performers were there. However, there is something that lacks on their performance…or maybe there is something about in numbers. For the former alone, they didn’t sent the whole battalion that I used to see in their performances-that’s about near 200.

MIUs...Men In Uniform

Anyway, “Kalayaan 2010″ was said to be controversial…a way to glorify Gloria’s legacy. However, the organizers defended that it is about overcoming challenges and the legacy that the outgoing administration left for the progress of the Philippines. Whether politicised or not, its obvious that it presents the accomplishments of the Arroyo administration in almost a decade rule in the Philippines. Its like watching May Day parade minus the fanfare and uhm…crowd cheering for the greatness of the nation…or in their words, “Beat the Odds.”

Rizal Monument

However, I still can’t stop wondering, why are Filipinos at Quirino Grandstand (those ordinary ones) are just…don’t care. It’s like just another ho-hum programme. Although I love the performances and even the theme song, its just that there is something lacking in the hearts and minds of the Filipinos there. Are we taking Independence Day for granted?

Even the date itself is also mired with controversy. Even though if we freed ourselves from Spain as declared in Kawit on June 12, 1898, it wasn’t however recognized by any nation in the world-and bitterly, we were colonized once more, by the “benevolent Yankees.”

Sorbetes anyone?

The program itself really is to celebrate our liberation from oppression yet how come there is more spirit to town fiestas and big city fiestas than this sacred national holiday? I ask myself, could it be because of history or confused identity?

Anyway, after Gloria was “glorified,” we went strolling at Luneta until the time that the fireworks lit up the twilight sky. In a way, I celebrate the day of our liberty. However I am to ask, are we really free?

More photos here:

Rizal Park is located:

View Luneta in a larger map

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June 2010
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