VIENNA, Austria – Hundreds of Filipinos based in Austria will participate in the festivities to mark the 125th Declaration of the Philippine Independence Day here. On June 10, 2023, the Filipino community in Austria, led by the Council of Filipino Associations in Austria in cooperation with the Philippine embassy, held the Independence Day ball at the Marriott Hotel, Vienna.
The theme “Kalayaan. Kinabukasan. Kasaysayan.” focuses on the freedom our forebears struggled for in the future that they dreamed for the country and the history that we seek to remember and honour them with.
The Philippine Embassy in Austria led the new Ambassador, Hon. Evangelina Lourdes Arroyo- Bernas, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Philippines to Austria, with concurrent jurisdiction over the Republic of Croatia, the Republic of Slovenia and the Slovak Republic and Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations and the 11th resident Ambassador of the Philippines to Austria joined the occasion. Arroyo-Bernas lauded the CFAA for its inspiring humanitarian work in the Philippines. She encouraged her fellow Filipinos to continue participating in nation-building and make future Filipinos proud of their roots.
Filipino employees at the United Nations in Vienna will celebrate the event on June 12, 2023.
The commemoration of Philippine Independence Day is widely celebrated among Pinoys in Austria as it is a significant event to raise cultural awareness.
Ray Arreza, Chairman of the CFAA, affirmed that the celebration serves as a platform to promote togetherness and honour the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines.
The celebration’s highlight was the cultural presentation of the contestants of this year’s Search for Mrs. Philippines-Austria.
Seven candidates were presented during the event. Winners of the pageant will be announced during the Barrio Fiesta event on July 22, 2023.
What they say about the Philippine Independence Day Celebration
“The importance of remembering where you came from is what we celebrate during Philippine Independence Day,” said Alberto Cordero.
Cordero added that “It is important to know who we are. Our culture is what makes us distinct as a people. If we don’t preserve and celebrate Filipino culture, we will be lost in an ocean of cultures. The Pinoy community needs celebrations like this: “It encourages us to be proud that we are Filipinos.”
Hotel worker Angelo Mannantan is proud to be a Filipino. He hopes that the new leaders in the Philippines will bring significant changes in the government and improve the lives of the Filipino people.
“Like most Filipinos who have immigrated to Austria, I have changed. I have imbibed the Austrian culture, become more disciplined, and have had the Austrian mindset of being open to ways I can help and serve the majority. I pray that our kababayans back in the Philippines will also have this inner change, no more corruption, ningas kugon, and crab mentality,” Mannantan said.
A Filipina, now an Austrian citizen, said the Philippine Independence Day will always be meaningful.
“My roots are in the Philippines, so I’m happy to celebrate the day with my kababayans here in Austria. We should celebrate the fact that we have independence,” the Pinay said.
She admitted that she hardly watched Filipino television shows while still in the Philippines. Now, she enjoys Tagalog telenovelas and variety shows. “I enjoy watching TFC (The Filipino Channel). It connects me to my homeland,” she said.
Annabelle Valenzuela shares the same sentiments. “I do consider the Philippine Independence Day a very important day. I am much more Filipino now in Austria, rather than when I was still living in the Philippines. Dati-rati medyo negatibo ang aking feeling sa Pilipinas. But now, I have become so defensive when people speak negatively about the Philippines,” Valenzuela said.
For another Filipino, observing Independence Day is not about remembering what happened 125 years ago. “Independence Day reminds me more of my being as a Filipino and will always be a Filipino, even if I have been an Austrian citizen for many years now. We celebrate Independence Day to remind our children and us about our Filipino culture,” he said.
— mag. hector pascua