Balweg: Fangasan, Morgan bring out historical highlights on Fil-Am Friendship Day

A SIZABLE gathering of Baguio people converged at the Baguio Rizal park Tuesday July 4, to celebrate Filipino-American Friendship Day, thanks to the efforts of the major elderly organizations FBASECA, PGREA, BARP, and Philippine Veterans CAR Indomitable “Nars” Padilla effectively banded these nongovernment organizations together with the active participation of the BCNHS band members and various dance and singing outfits.

What caught my attention to the Part II of the scheduled program were two of the speakers, namely, Elizabeth Fangasan of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Office and denominational missionary Pastor Morgan.

Betty Fangaasan gave the following pieces of information. Starting from 1946 to 1964, she began, Philippine Independence Day or Araw ng Kalayaan was observed on the fourth of July.

It thus coincided with the Independence Day of the United States of America (USA) This is the day when the United States formally recognized the Philippines as an independent state,” she said.

On July 4, 1964, then President Diosdado Macapagal, through Republic Act 4166, moved the celebration of Araw ng Kalayaan to the date on which the Philippines had declared its independence from Spain in 1898, thus effectively changing the date of Philippine Independence Day to June 12.

When President Fidel Valdez Ramos took over the Philippine presidency, he declared July 4, as the Fil-American Friendship Day to commemorate the liberation of the country by the joint Filipino and American forces from the Japanese occupation at the end of World War II. That, according the Fangasan, is why we now celebrate July 4 as Philippine-American Friendship Day.

For her, this celebration is meant to remind us and Americans of our two country’s long standing friendship. This friendship developed after the forces of the first Philippine Republic were defeated by those of the United States and our archipelago became an American colony.

The Philippines, the speaker continued, and the United States maintained their closeness that soon came to be described as special relationship.

She reminded that we from Baguio City are very lucky for majority of the development are made through the Americans who colonized the City. Economic and infrastructure developments are visible still now.

Majority, if not all our streets, roads, and parks have been named after Americans, like Kennon Road, Gov. Pack Road, Leonard Wood Road, Session Road, that still persist today. Architect Daniel Burnham planned and designed the city’s development, including world-renowned Burnham Park.

Parenthically, we could add that Fr. Conrado Balweg could not imagine a Cordillera autonomous region without Baguio and Burnham Park.

To resume with Fangasan’s observation, we also owe the Americans education in our locality. Our elders became fluent in English although they did not attend formal school.

With the work of the American educators, Baguio City became known as Education Center of the North and that remains to this day. Students from nearby provinces and other regions come to Baguio to study because of the noted good quality and high standard of education being provided.

Malcolm Square remind us of Judge Malcolm: William Bell Smith started Camp John Hay with the Bell Amphitheater and so on.

Pastor William Morgan told of the mutual developmental influence of the US and the Philippines on one another. He recounted that the US introduced freedom of religion that was not the case under ruler Spain; free education, was also not taken care of under the previous colonizer. The use of jeeps for transportation and of course, the republican form of government are a legacy they the American gave us.

Reversing the source of influence, speaker Morgan mentioned several items wherein the Philippines positively inputted into American life, economic and cultural. First of all, he brought out the Filipinos role in bringing to the US nurses and agricultural workers, like the apple pickers of California and the sugar and pineapple planters of Hawaii.

The audience clapped when he told them of the Filipino contribution on US American language, concluding with the surprising information that Tagalog is now the fifth language actually spoken in the U.S.A. at present because of the Filipinos there.

He mentioned others more but these are commonly known, such as technicians and sportsmen that included even in wrestling and NBA basketball.

I don’t remember him mentioning about military men but said freedom of religion has produced more churches and a bustling missionary zeal for the spread of Christ’s gospel.
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