The Philippines Independence Day Committee then and now

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Filipino-ExcellenceTHANKS to the current Philippines Independence Day (PID) Chairperson Dr. Wafa Kasimieh and Vice Chairperson Engr. Tata Dayot for recognizing the previous PID chairmen last June 3 at the celebration of the 118th declaration of Philippine Independence held for the very first time at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Center.

Together with me on stage were Gina Salazar (2005 to 2007), Alan Bacason (2012), Matilyn Bagunu (2013), Letty Maniaul (2014 co-chairman) and Engr. Cherry Pye Torres (2015).

Photo by Rachel Salinel

I always consider myself the accidental chairman of the 110th PID organizing committee in charge of the 2008 celebrations.

On the night of April 28, 2008, I arrived late at the meeting being conducted by Consul Butch Bandillo with about 30 Filcom leaders at the PCG compound. After saying his piece, I asked the consul when the Independence Day celebrations would be held. He replied: “That’s why we are meeting Art. Come here and preside over.” I obliged and sat beside him then asked the same question to the leaders. I did not notice that Consul Bandillo slipped away perhaps very much relieved.

During the next hour, we had many exchanges and made some calls to people who have contacts with venues like basketball gyms and hotels. Someone disclosed that he heard ABS-CBN was organizing a big event so I called the person in charge of marketing and put her on speaker phone. She explained the event was being planned for July to be known later as the 1st TFC Expo in Dubai.

After agreeing on the date, June 13, and the potential venues, I asked everyone what should be the next steps. Then Joel Nedamo of PSSP nominated me to be the chairman and everyone agreed that I should take charge since I was already doing it. Sometimes it is not good to ask. Sometimes it is better to stay still. But I have no regrets as these milestones will show the Bayanihan spirit we all experienced in the next few weeks.

Photo by Milo Torres - PID2008

May 6, the first general meeting:  At least 24 organizations contributed AED 500 each to show their solidarity and support to the event which was less than six weeks away. We announced the four working committees and the heads, namely: Production, Ollie Pineda of FACE; Logistics, Dante Delizo of CADD; Protocol and Welfare, Olive Mara of FDSC; and Finance, Tinette Pudda of UPAA. By the way, I represented Gawad Kalinga then.

Between the first and last general meetings, each working committee met separately at the Zying Asian Grill dining outset at Dubai Festival City. Zying was a sister company of Giordano which was being managed by good friend Ishwar Chugani, the famous dugong Bumbay, pusong Pinoy executive in Dubai. Both brands came in as sponsors.

June 9, the last general meeting: This was the biggest meeting attended by two representatives from each organization. This time, we were confident that the preparations were in order and all leaders were really upbeat on the success of the event. I acknowledged that the camaraderie and enthusiasm of everyone were really inspirational and it would be a waste to let these die down after the event so I suggested that we come up a yearend program that will see the leaders soon working together again.

June 13, the PID event at Al Nasr Leisureland: There were many firsts in this edition. The Job Fair organized by UPAA, which saw hundreds of applicants packing the venue as early as 8 a.m. The Free Tawag provided by du arranged by the United Filipino Airsoft. The colorful Santa Cruzan coordinated by FBCC (Sharjah). The Giordano Fashion Show presented by FDC-D. When I delivered the customary chairman’s address I requested all the members of the organizing committee and the heads of the various support committees to stay on the stage because I wanted to honor them for their significant contributions given a short period.

June 27, the Thanksgiving Mass: Many leaders attended the mass with Consul General Benito Valeriano. Then we joined the small salo-salo with Fr. Zaki. At the gathering we donated AED 3,700 to the ABS-CBN Foundation as our contribution to their relief efforts to the victims of super typhoon Frank in Southern Luzon and the Visayas. Entrepreneur and Aguman Kapampangan officer, the late Angel Timbol donated AED 500, and other organizations added AED 2,100.

July 19, the Thanksgiving Party: It was fun to perform a ‘Grease Lightning’ dance number before other leaders. It was our way of entertaining them. There were other presentations such as the mini-skit by UPAA and giant puppet dance by CADD. It was also at this time I endorsed Dante Delizo to head the yearend program which would later on be called Bayanihan Festival, the winning theme suggested by Cherry Pye Zablan-Torres of FCC.

Let me close this narration with an honoring to a good man, a good husband, a good father, and a very good friend, the late July Marimla of Aguman Kapampangan who served as Media Relations Officer of the event.

July was a true Filipino servant-leader. He was selfless and was focused not on his position but on what he could give to the community. He had the faith not on his skills but on God who gave him wisdom.

Maraming salamat Pareng Bro. July at malaking salamat sa Diyos sa lahat ng biyaya, pagkakataon at lakas. Mabuhay ang Bayanihan sa Dubai at northern emirates. Mabuhay ang Kalayaan!

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