Filipino Community of Oxfordshire

106th Anniversary of Philippine Independence Celebrated in Oxford, U.K.

By: Jose Ariel Lanada

I salute all the men and women who made a contribution, however small or large, to making our first ever Philippine Independence Day celebration in Oxford, United Kingdom an experience of a lifetime.

June 12, 2004 marked another high point in the lives of Filipinos in Oxford when they demonstrated cultural solidarity and patriotism. The event was spearheaded by Sister Clare Joseph, a Filipino missionary nun in the U.K., who took-on the challenge of organizing the First Filipino Christian Community in Oxford.

Several months of preparation resulted in a fabulous and meaningful event. The day started with a motorcade which went from the Churchill hospital to the city centre and then on to finish at the John Radcliffe Hospital .

The Cultural presentation was staged at the Tingewick Hall at the JR hospital in the afternoon. A holy mass was co-celebrated by four catholic priests from Oxford with Father David Hartley as main celebrant. The celebration was also blessed by the presence of the assistant Archbishop of Birmingham and a number of English nuns.

Mrs. Estrella Berenguel, the Charg? d?Affaires (Deputy Ambassador) from the Philippine Embassy in London, was the keynote speaker during the celebration. Mrs. Berenguel congratulated the organizers and the participants for the day?s events. She further urged Filipinos to unite and show their talents to the whole world, their love for their native Philippines and their pride at being Filipinos.

The year's theme was ?Pilipino: Noon, Ngayon at Bukas? and dramatized the lives of the Filipino people and their struggle for freedom from foreign occupation by the Spanish, Japanese and Americans. Filipinos have learned from their past. They don't look at yesterday with anger, nor look at tomorrow with fear, but they live their lives today with awareness. Filipinos of today are more than willing to pay the price, no matter what, to defend their beloved Philippines and to fight for their human rights.

The play, written by Precy Cayabyab and directed by Lizel Trauman, was composed of acting, singing and dancing and showed how the richness of Filipino culture had touched the hearts and minds of hundreds of Filipinos, friends and families who attended the celebration.

The day?s events ended with a salu-salo of the bountiful Filipino and English food prepared by the ever generous Filipinos in Oxford.

Beyond all our expectations the first Philippine Independence Day celebrated here in Oxford was a moment of awakening. For the organizers it was a total success. For many who attended it, it was a day of heroism and the beginning of a more meaningful camaraderie among Filipinos and their families to stand up and be counted as part of a Filipino Christian Community in Oxford bound together in love as we march onward with Christ to a better Philippines.

? 2006 Filipino Community of Oxfordshire