DUBAI // Thousands of Filipinos placed their hands on their heart as they sang their national anthem yesterday as part of celebrations ahead of the nation’s 113th independence day on Sunday.
More than 3,000 Filipinos gathered at Dubai’s Al Shabab Sports Club for day-long festivities. They came with friends and family to mark independence won from Spanish colonial rulers in 1898.
“This is a very important time for Filipinos,” said Fintin Nuqui, 33, an accountant who served a drink of vanilla syrup with orange cubes and tapioca grains to thirsty participants. “It rekindles Filipino spirit when everyone meets to remember that we won freedom. It is important to explain this day to children.”
Fathers lifted children on their shoulders and cheered during a musical historical tableau in which girls held aloft the Philippine national flag as dancers brandished silver cardboard swords signifying the independence struggle.
Others clapped while watching regional dances from southern Mindanao as girls in bright red and blue suits twirled gold umbrellas and crepe fans to the thump of drums.
“This helps people remember the transition,” said Romeo Ancheta, a music teacher at The Philippines School who helped choreograph the dances. “When families understand the true meaning of our independence they can pass this on to more people.”
Filipinos also spent the day eating noodles, sweet pandesal bread and sour mangoes. They shopped at stalls selling everything from cup cakes to perfumes and shoes.
Others reached out to the community and lent a helping hand about career opportunities.
“This independence day unites us; it’s the biggest Filipino event to show solidarity,” said Wilma Villanueva, a manager with an insurance company and the president of the organisation Training and Opportunities for Pinoys Abroad.
“We want to aid fellow Filipinos to become happy entrepreneurs instead of working eight hours in the office. Growing as a people on national day is good for us.”
A guide called the Safety Awareness Booklet listing the traditions and laws of the UAE was also released.
“This day reminds us about unity and with this booklet we want to remind fellow Filipinos of the basic rules here,” said Alan Bacason, the president of the Filipino Human Resources Practitioners’ Association.
“It reminds them to be careful while issuing cheques, while driving and while showing affection in relationships.”