Dubai Police opens the celebrations of the Philippine Independence Day at the Sheikh Saeed Hall of the Dubai World Trade Centre on Sunday. Kamal Kassim
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
Eighty-four Filipino professional and social/religious groups, recognised by the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai including business entities and schools participated at the 125th Philippine Independence Day (PID) celebrations organised by the Filipino Social Club (FilSoC) on Sunday.
The 12-hour event was the third in a series of PID activities by the Community Development Authority (CDA)-licensed expatriate organisation composed of 1,700 volunteers from all walks of life.
In connection with the Philippines’ National Migrant Workers’ Day declared as a special day through a law in 1995, FilSoC, in partnership with the Migrant Workers Office-Dubai (MWO-Dubai) held the first-ever “Overseas Filipino Workers Night” on June 9. The next day was the landmark PID six-kilometre round-about “Fluvial Yachts Parade” from the Dubai harbour to marina.
The ceremonial walk promptly began at 8 a.m. and slowly snaked into the Sheikh Saeed Hall of the Dubai World Trade Centre amidst the festive and marching strains provided by the Dubai Police Band on stage and while four women-members of the Sangguniang Masang Pilipino International Inc. (Council of the Filipino Masses, Inc.), the non-government oganisation of former police officers, spearheaded the Parade of Colours and installed the Philippine and UAE flags on each side of the stage, it was the St. Mary’s Filipino Community Choir led the acapella singing of the countries’ national anthems.
By 12 noon it was announced by the segment hosts of the “Gawad Awards 2023,” that there were already 9,000 footfall. Going around the hall, there were the Deira Cyclists Community Exhibition and Competition of Bicycles (of various models and sizes), free medical check-ups by the Philippine Nurses Association, and games played. Social Security System and PagIBIG Fund (Home Development Mutual Fund) officers were attending to enquiries.
There was the Trash Fashion Show wherein beauty pageant gowns and outlandish costumes were created out of all recyclables, the cheapest of which only cost Dhs20 and the priciest at Dhs1,000. Al Afiyah Private School in Sharjah beat the United International School in Dubai at the choral speech/song competition.
Philippine Government men and women were led by Ambassador to the UAE Alfonso Ferdinand Ver. From the host country were CDA officials led by Social Regulatory and Licensing Agency chief executive officer Dr. Omar Almuthanna and Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre Islamic Affairs-Islamic & Charitable Activities Department in Dubai-Cultural and Interaction manager Ruwayah Al Ketbi.
In attendance too were Sheikh Majid Rashid Al Mualla and his delegation from his own Group of Companies in Umm Al Quwain and Emaar Group-Dubai Mall Security official Marwan Al Marri “who played a key role in the magnificent display of the Philippine national flag at the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in the evening of June 12.”
In her message, Al Ketbi said the PID celebration allows the host government in observing as well the “cooperation, friendship, and mutual respect” between the UAE and the Philippines and their peoples: “We salute you for your exceptional and remarkable contributions, resilience, dedication, and hard work in all sectors which have help made the UAE as it is today.”
In the inspirational speech and in relation with the 2023 PID theme “Kalayaan, Kinabukasan, Kasaysayan,” (“Freedom, Future, History”), Consul General in Dubai and the Northern Emirates Renato Duenas Jr. said: “We are being asked to reflect on three things: freedom, history and future. I hope all of us Filipinos in Dubai and the Northern Emirates think of how we achieved this freedom, what it means to us, and how we can protect it for our future generation. The meaning of freedom has changed over the years but for us Filipinos, it means one thing: the fact that we can determine how we run our country and determine our future. Let us all think of what we should be doing here in the UAE. Obviously, most of us came here to work and let us give our best as we practise our professions here in the UAE and think about as well our duties as Filipinos; so we can protect our freedom and our future.”
In his keynote address, Ambassador Ver in part associated the birth of the Republic of the Philippines on June 12, 1898 to the “best way” Filipinos could greatly honour the sacrifices and lives lost for a free nation and people. That even if they were unconscious of it, excelling well professionally and in whatever they have chosen take part of, which includes selflessness through all, “you are already giving honour to our ancestors, to your families and to this nation.”
He said what he said was not just a figment of his imagination but in his five months in the country and going around the seven emirates, he has been receiving positive feedback “and I am very proud of you.
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