THE ANNUAL KALAYAAN PARADE IN HISTORIC FILIPIN0TOWN

CULTURAL NOTES
May 20, 2017

THE ANNUAL KALAYAAN PARADE IN HISTORIC FILIPIN0TOWN

By Arturo P. Garcia

In my first year in FACLA, as a Director I suggested to the Board that we hold a parade around Historic Filipinotown, the only Historic Filipinotown in the United States. The FACLA Board approved the plan and we went into motions to implement in as early as February 2013.
For me, as a Filipino-American, it was awkward that it was only Los Angeles has no parade on every Independence Day Parade.

Every big city in America like New York, San Francisco and even Honolulu, Hawaii where there is a large Filipino-American community, have their annual independence parade. Except of course, Los Angeles, where the largest population of Filipinos is.

As far as I remembered, the last Independence Day Parade that was held in Echo Park was in June of 1998. That was to celebrate the 100th Independence Day of the Philippines. It started from MacArthur Park to Echo Park. After that here was none.

The Filipinos stopped doing independence parades after the Philippine government changed its Independence Day from July 4th to June 12 every year. FACLA that did the traditional 4th of July Independence Day Parades from the Hotel where they crown the Miss Philippines to City Hall stopped its parades in Los Angeles after 1962.

New York as everybody knows, have the largest, most bonggacious ( from the Filipino word bongga) and well-attended parade all over the United States. Surely, Los Angeles cannot beat that. We will never aspire for that. Not even in our dreams.

For me, what we need is a different mass celebration. Not the elitist type of gala in plush hotels where the cream of the crop of the Fil-Am society converges away from the madding crowd.

That is why I pushed for the Independence Day Parade. But still, there are people who ask questions about it. Why have a celebration deep in the majority non-Filipino enclave? Where the population are Mexicans or Central Americans?

It is the same question why there is a Historic Filipinotown in south of Echo-Park. But I prefer not to answer such impertinent questions. I will just focus on why there is there is the annual Kalayaan Parade since 2013.

It was one day in February 2013 when the newly appointed Consul General Hellen Barbers-Dela Vega visited FACLA and broached to us the two ideas, that FACLA is to be the site of the Centro Rizal and to hold a parade around Historic FIlipinotown.

We agreed on the two ideas. Besides, FACLA is acting as the Filipino Cultural Center since its building was opened way back in 1965. Another thing, the newly formed Knights of Rizal-Historic FIlipinotown was based then in FACLA.
She was happy, that we are planning parade and was glad to collaborate with us on this undertaking. We agreed on coordinating and collaborating with the Consulate

So, we set into motion the Consulate and FACLA collaboration. In order to facilitate more community participation we formed an organizing committee with the Consulate and FACLA sharing everything from planning to implementation. The fiscal sponsorship was given to FACLA, for it was in the community.

But to our surprise, we were called to the Consulate only to be informed that the Consulate removed the fiscal sponsorship to from FACLA and gave it to SIPA. It was a unilateral decision of the ConGen and we were only informed that day.
We were all surprised but we maintained our cool. The reason that the Congen gave us “ is that she was worried with the prestige of FACLA.” “That many does trust FACLA when it comes to money.” It really hurts, but we just bit our tongue and bore it.

I was not surprised because we know that FACLA has a lot of detractors. Good or bad, they will say many things about FACLA. But then, as if we have a common wave length, if we will be angry against this decision and transgression about our organization, we will be seen as “kontra-bida”. If we sulk, then they will have more to say about us.

If we gave way to our pride, they might have won in provoking FACLA to get out of the collaboration with the Consulate. And we will look bad among the people and our community. So, that time we took the bitter pill and said ,” it was okay.”

The ConGen was relieved and said, “ she was worried about our respond and was happy that we understood her actions.” That night, at the community leaders meeting in the Consulate, I gave the most inspiring speech calling for unity. Even if the wounds in my heart was still fresh.
Later, when the Consulate gave us a part of the proceeds, we returned it back to them as a donations for Thypoon Yolanda (HAIYAN) victims.

What is important for us is that the First Historic Filipinotown Kalayaan Parade was a resounding success. And success it was. The Filipino-American community’s unity is paramount for us.

We know that some people discredited us before the ConGen that is why she was forced to make that decision. The common thread of the crab-mentality very common not only for the Filipino-American community but all the communities.

That the story behind the successful very first Kalayaan Parade. Every year the Kalayaan Parade grows bigger. Now we are on the 5th Kalayaan Parade in Historic Filipinotown. We built on the success of the parade every year.

See you on Saturday on the 5th Kalayaan Parade. The parade assembly time is at 8;00 AM. The parade starts at 9;00 AM. The after-parade program starts at 11:00 AM at the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA compound)

Mabuhay Ang Araw ng Kalayaan ng Pilipinas, Hunyo 12, 1898.

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