LAST Thursday, the annual national celebration of Philippine-American Friendship Day took the center stage with less color and grandeur compared to yesteryears activities. We missed the blare of bugles and the raffle of drums, the street parade, the flight of the white doves of peace and solidarity, and many more.
I think, even our children today do not appreciate the importance of the event like we did when we were young. At any rate, with the local government at the helm, the simple Fil-Am Day program held in our midst two days ago, demonstrated once again our deepest gratitude to the American pioneers who in countless ways sacrificed, labored and shared their talents and skills to make Baguio what it is today.
Most of the senior citizens of my generation, specifically the Baguio-born elderly like myself will always remember the shared cultural history and friendship between our countries.
It was my distinct privilege as president of the Baguio Elderly Assembly to lead in the prayer and wreath laying ceremony at the Col. Lyman W. Kennon Monument, within the premises of the Kennon Rd. view deck. The occasion also provided me the opportunity to represent my troopmates and the Scouters from Michigamea Lodge 110, Order of the Arrow, Calumet Council, Boy Scouts of America where I was granted lifetime membership in the Honor Society in 1998.
The flower offering entourage included members of the Baguio Federation of the Senior Citizens Organizations headed by its president Ador de Guzman; Dr. Lucio Victor; former president of the Benguet State University; staff members of the City Social Welfare and Development Office; and the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs led by my good friend Nestor and a patrol of Girl and Boy Scouts.
Before the wreath laying rites, I delivered a brief foreword about the development and growth of our city with the Americans on the leader board. I mentioned about the initiative, coordination and finally the construction of the Acht. Daniel H. Burnham and Col. Lyman W. Kennon monuments and the Justice George Malcolm bust with the National Correspondents Club of Baguio and friends of media spearheading the realization of the memorabilia, honoring Baguio builders.
The day’s celebration highlighted with wreath laying ceremony and a brief program at the Malcolm Square with our new Congressman Nicasio Aliping Jr. as the principal guest of honor and speaker. Arthur Gongon, president of the US Fleet Reserve, Baguio Chapter also gave a short message. The Baguio City National High School Special Program in the Arts and the school’s band provided entertaining numbers. Later in the afternoon, the recognition of Baguio-based American companies was held at the City Hall Multi-Purpose Hall. The main awardees were Texas Instruments, MOOG and Sitel with Mayor Mauricio Domogan as principal guest.
In our calendar of events this month, several memorial activities dedicated to the victims of the killer earthquake which devastated this mountain resort city and other parts of Luzon is set on July 16. In keeping with tradition, the NCCB and CSWDO together with elderlies from the FBASECA, Pinsao Proper Senior Citizens Association will hold a simple prayer, floral offering and a candlelight ceremony at the Shrine of the Brown Madonna, Km. 7, Asin Rd. The day of remembrance is billed at 9 a.m. Several 1990 earthquake babies from the city have been invited to grace the offering.
Meanwhile, the working committee for the 4th Philippine-Japan Friendship Day celebration is on the ball to ensure the success of the international event scheduled on July 21. Activities for the day start with prayer, wreath laying and candlelight ceremonies to be held at the Filipino-Japanese Memorial Garden at 1 p.m.
A “pista sa nayon” to accentuate the affair will follow immediately at the Baguio City National High School auditorium. Rep. Nic Aliping Jr. is guest of honor and speaker in the event and will include presentation rites honoring the Tomodachi Day muses and escorts. To add color and glitter to the affair, a kultura-o-rama of highland and lowland folk dances and songs are in store.
The cultural show presenters are from the FBASECA Cultural Assocation, Pinsao Proper senior citizens, BCNHS-SPA, Phases Learning Center, National Institute of Information Technology, Filipino-Japanese Foundation of Northern Luzon, Inc., Japanese Residents of Northern Luzon, Inc. and a tachi team.
The potongan core composed of Rep. and Mrs. Aliping, Mayor and Mrs. Domogan, BCNHS principal Elma Donaal, Phases director Cita Bernal, CSWD officer Betty Fangasan, sportswoman Dr. Lenny Fe Brawner and officers of the BEA executive board. BCNHS-SPA coordinator Marilyn Api-it will emcee the cultural show. The free raffle for attendees is added highlight of the event which will end with a friendship circle.
The celebration picks up its final thread on July 28 with spiritual ceremonies which include a holy mass dubbed, “Friends now, friends forever” at the Shrine of the Brown Madonna. Engr. Leopoldo Escaño, executive director of FJFNL and JRNL president Hidenobu Oguni are co-chairmen while I serve as the executive project officer and overall program coordinator of the celebration.