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June 5, 2012 > Kalayaan Festival connects, inspires, and empowers

Kalayaan Festival connects, inspires, and empowers

By Julie Grabowski

Independence is a precious thing to all people and nations, and once attained is surely a cause for celebration and remembrance. Filipino communities across the nation will be doing just that when Philippine Independence Day is commemorated on June 12.

In the town of Kawit in the provence of Cavite, Philippines, General Emilio Aguinaldo, leader of Filipino revolutionary forces, declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898. Despite the powerful claim, neither Spain, nor the U.S. recognized its authority. Spain ceded the Philippines to the U.S. later that year in the Treaty of Paris, and independence wasn't recognized until July 4,1946 through the Treaty of Manila.

Thus Filipino celebrations were observed on that already famous day, though always heavily overshadowed by the larger Independence Day fanfare of the United States. The overlapping celebrations continued until 1961 when President of the Philippines Diosdado Macapagal began working to move the holiday to June 12, the day when independence was initially proclaimed in 1898. On August 4, 1964 the change became official when Macapagal signed the Malaca–ang Republic Act claiming June 12 as Philippine Independence Day.

This year marks the 114th anniversary of Philippine independence, and the San Francisco Philippine Consulate General office and the Bay Area Filipino American committee of community leaders are introducing a weeklong celebration with activities throughout the Bay Area. Under the theme "A New Generation of Heroes: Connect. Inspire. Empower." Filipino community members and leaders hope to inspire young people to be leaders and generators of positive change as they work to accomplish their goals. The Kalayaan Festival 2012 will kick things off with a cultural celebration on June 10 at Union City's Kennedy Park.

A Tagalog word meaning independence or freedom, Kalayaan is a free event that will feature live performances by Radio Disney star Amber Lily, and singer and actress Stella Ruiz, stand-up comedy from Allan Manalo and Bindlestiff Studio, along with a flag ceremony and cultural dances and songs. Eskabo Daan and Arnis will deliver a Philippine Martial Arts exhibition, and local designer Crisanta Malig will share her latest fashions in a fashion parade. Delicious Filipino food will be provided by eight food trucks and other vendors, and arts and crafts exhibitors and various non-profits will also be on site. The celebration will be hosted by comedian and director Bernardo Bernardo with co-hosts Freska Griarte of Movin' 99.7, and Anthony Rivero, host of Power ng Pinoy.

Activities throughout the week include a talk on personal branding by Pocholo Gonzales in Fremont on Monday, a flag-raising ceremony on June 12 at the San Francisco Consulate Offices, a business mixer and panel discussion with three inspiring Bay Area business personalities at Fort McKinley Restaurant in South San Francisco, Comedy Night at Bindlestiff Studio in San Francisco, a lecture on the ancient Filipino script Baybayin by Christian Cabuay at the Consulate office, and a special movie/TV screening. The celebration culminates with the Gala on July 17 at San Francisco City Hall.

Whatever your heritage, the Kalayaan Festival is a great opportunity to experience another culture and celebrate the freedoms that we all share as members of one community.

For more information, visit

Kalayaan Festival
Sunday, June 10
10:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Kennedy Park
1333 Decoto Road, Union City

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