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Switzerland celebrates 116th anniversary of Philippine Independence  

The Filipino community in Switzerland held the Swiss-wide celebration of the 116th anniversary of Philippine Independence on 7 June 2014 in Geneva. The event, which bannered the theme, “Pilipino ka, saan man, kailan man”, was a celebration of the Filipino heritage and tradition, as well as a reminder to Filipinos in Switzerland of their roots and their responsibilities toward their country.   Independence day celebrations in Switzerland are rotated in various cities, the previous ones being in Berne in 2012 and Zurich in 2013.

The celebration kicked off with a parade of various Filipino organizations across Switzerland and Liechtenstein, spearheaded by the three Philippine ambassadors based in Switzerland: Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Leslie J. Baja; Permanent Representative to the UN Office in Geneva Cecilia B. Rebong; and Permanent Representative to WTO Esteban B. Conejos, Jr. About thirty (30) organizations participated in the parade.

Photos (Top to Bottom; L-R): Officials of the Philippine Embassy in Berne & the Philippines Missions to the UNOG & WTO join the parade; Mayor Jean-Michel Karr of Chene-Bougeries with Ambassadors Leslie Baja, Cecilia Rebong & Esteban Conejos, and Ugnayang Bayan Chairman Manny Goyena; Philippine Embassy & Missions’ officials partake in the celebration; Manny Goyena welcomes members of the Filipino community to the event; Ambassador Rebong addresses the attendees during the programme; Ambassador Baja speaks before the community about the significance of the celebration.

The programme started with a tableau depicting the various stages in Philippine history, showing the struggles of Filipinos from the oppression of various colonizers until the proclamation of Philippine independence. It was followed by a series of cultural performances showcasing the rich heritage and colourful traditions of the different groups of Filipinos from northern to southern Philippines.

The event was made more meaningful when officials from the Philippine Embassy in Berne and the two Philippine missions in Geneva participated in the program with their rendition of the song, “Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo”.

Photos (Top to Bottom; L-R): Embassy & Missions’ officials render their version of “Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo”; food stalls offer a variety of Filipino cuisines & delicacies; Philippine Embassy in Berne & Consulate General in Geneva conduct registration for overseas voters;  Ambassadors Rebong & Baja with the Tambayan Pinoy Swiss (TPS) Channel team; Team Philippines Switzerland joins the 2014 PID celebration

Ambassador Rebong, in her speech, reminded the Filipino community of their roots and their responsibilities to their country. She extolled the contributions of Filipinos overseas to the country’s development and encouraged those present to continue doing their share towards nation-building.

Ambassador Baja reminded those present of the double significance of the celebration. “Ang pagdiriwang natin ngayong taon ay mas makahulagan dahil ipinagdiriwang din po natin sa araw na ito ang ika-19 anibersaryo ng Filipino Migrants’ Day,” said Ambassador Baja.

He reminded the Filipinos present of their responsibilities to the Philippines. “Bilang Pilipino, malaki po ang ating karapatan at responsibilidad na pangalagaan ang ating kalayaan at makamtan ang kaginhawahan ng Pilipinas. Kasama po rito ang ating responsibilidad na tumulong sa pag-unlad ng ating bayan at bumoto ng mga nararapat na opisyal na mamumuno sa ating bayan.”

With the ongoing registration for overseas voting, the Philippine Embassy in Berne and the Consulate General in Geneva took advantage of the occasion and conducted registration for overseas voters. It was the first time said activity was conducted on the occasion of Philippine Independence Day celebration.

The event, which was attended by close to a thousand Filipinos from across Switzerland and Liechtenstein, provided an opportunity for Filipinos to see old friends, meet new ones, and come together in the spirit of independence and love of country, and renewal of their commitment to being a Filipino. It was also an opportune moment to showcase the rich Philippine traditions to the Swiss people present during the occasion. END


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