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Filipino community marks home country’s independence

Edlyn Nepomuceno and John Pineda hold the flag of the Philippines as it was raised Saturday at Centennial Park to mark the 123rd anniversary of the country’s independence.

Members of Fort Macleod’s Filipino community gathered Saturday to celebrate its culture and the anniversary of their home country’s independence.

The gathering at Centennial Park included a prayer, the raising of the Philippines’ flag and playing of the national anthem.

“We are proud to be in Canada and in this town,” said Bernadette Mariano, one of the organizers. “And we are proud of our heritage.”

The gathering was small, in keeping with COVID-19 pandemic health measures.

Town of Fort Macleod councillor Werner Dresser shares a COVID-19 greeting with Sining Mariano, left, and Katha Mariano.

Among those who attended were Coun. Werner Dressler and parks and recreation foreman Dan Smith representing the Town of Fort Macleod.

“It symbolizes our strength, our unity,” Mariano said of the gathering on Saturday.

Organizers intend, with Alberta lifting restrictions as the pandemic eases, to hold a bigger celebration next year to showcase Filipino culture.

Mariano said the event will give people a taste of Filipino culture, with food, dance and traditional dress.

“We have a very creative and flamboyant culture that we want to showcase to everyone in town,” Mariano said.

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, the Philippines was a colony in the Spanish empire

Following a revolution General Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed the Philippines to be a free nation on June 12, 1898.

It was not until July 4, 1946, following the Second World War and removal of Japanese forces, that the Philippines gained independence and took control of its destiny.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a prepared statement reflected on the 123rd anniversary of Philippine independence.

“Canada and the Philippines enjoy very strong people-to-people ties and a relationship built on shared priorities, including international trade, peace and security, and gender equality,” Trudeau said.

“We also collaborate through various multilateral organizations, such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Nearly one million people of Filipino descent live in Canada and make our country a better place every day.”

Trudeau said members of the Filipino community across Canada have taken on essential roles in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, including working on the front lines.

“I thank them for their courage and sacrifices during these difficult times,” Trudeau said. “You have shown us the best of what it means to serve your community.”

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