Hong Kong’s Filipino Community Celebrates 117 Years of Philippine Independence

Hong Kong’s Filipino community celebrated the 117th anniversary of the Philippine Independence Day on Sunday along a main stretch of Central’s Chater Road.

The all-day programme included a marching band, troupes of men and women in tribal-wear, folk dances and singing, and even a visit from Bishop John Tong of St. John’s Cathedral. The celebration came a day after the country’s officially recognised date of independence on June 12th, in order to coincide with domestic workers’ Sunday rest day.

Hundreds of volunteers wearing the T-shirts of their respective unions and associations waved flags and marched toward a bandstand just off Statue Square at about 11am, flanked by a marching band at one end and flag-bearing men at the other. On the stage, domestic workers transformed into folk dancers while an audience consisting almost entirely of other Filipino domestic workers crowded in.

At the other end of Chater Road, beneath the glass walkway connecting the Mandarin Oriental hotel to a shopping mall, dozens of women in heavy tribal clothes to pose for pictures and await their place in the procession.

One of these tribal groups, the Lumad, in deep red and orange garb known for its beads and sharp colour schemes, has origins in Bukidan City. On the stage and in the procession, domestic workers representing the Lumad and other groups were an important part of the festivities.

June 12th was designated as the Philippines’ Independence Day by revolutionary leader Emilio Aguinaldo in 1898, after more than 300 years of occupation by the Spanish, who were at last pushed out by American military forces at the beginning of the Spanish-American War. But the United States did not concede independence, either. It was only on July 4, 1946, in the Treaty of Manila, that the U.S. at last granted independence. June 12th remains the country’s official Independence Day.