Kalayaan Picnic
Filipino Responses to Spanish Colonization by Vincent Paolo S. De Pio

A stage play depicting a dark chapter of Philippine history was presented during the “Kalayaan Picnic” held last January 9 at the Halmich Park in Warren.

Kalayaan Picnic, which is in celebration of Philippine Independence Day, is a major, yearly event organized by the Filipino American Community Council (FILAMCCO). CPA-businessman Wilmar Suan is the incumbent FILAMCCO president.

It was observed that due to the rainy weather, there were fewer attendees compared to past Kalayaan Picnics.

The play, which was directed by Antoinette Gosioco and held in the Halmich Park pavilion, was centered on the birth of the Philippine Republic in 1898. It reminded the audience, among others, of the execution of the three martyred priests – Fathers Gomez, Burgos and Zamora – with the solemn-faced actors wearing period priest robes, circa 1800.

It also featured National Hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal with the actor wearing a blue suit and holding a gas lamp and a prop for his book “Noli Me Tangere.” He later sang, “Ang Pilipinas Kong Mahal.” Many members of the audience sang with him the patriotic song.

Then entered General Emilio Aguinaldo. Dennis Gosioco in white suit and hat played the role. He was holding and waving a big Philippine flag. It was General Aguinaldo who proclaimed the independence of the Philippines from Spain at the veranda of his house in Kawit, Cavite in 1898.

The play also featured dozens of women and men wearing traditional Filipino clothes and holding small Philippine flags. Then they performed a simple dance number to the tune of the marching band music provided by DJ Allen Carter.

The Kalayaan Picnic celebration opened with the traditional parade of colors. Fe San Agustin, who is the chairperson of the overall event committee, delivered the welcome remark, saying “We must not forget those who fought with their blood to make our people free.”

FILAMCCO President Suan delivered the opening remarks, saying “rain or shine we are here to celebrate our freedom.” He noted the participation of several Filipino-American youth groups in the program, thanking them and urging other Filipino-American youth to get involved in community activities.

Several people who attended the event welcomed the innovative celebration program. Some lauded the stage play, saying “we should always be reminded of how our forefathers fought for our independence.”

The groups that performed during the entertainment program presented cultural and modern dances. The performers included PAECUSA, FILSOC, Salvation Army-PACCM, Tagumpay Dance Dou, FASOU, Daniel Moen, PASS, PACCM Hula Dancers, Kapamilya and KKPM.

Lito Apigo’s group provided band music for the public dancing portion.

Aside from the entertainment numbers, the picnic goers enjoyed partaking favorite Filipino food, including the immortal “lechon.”