The second leg of the double parade Sunday was the celebration of the 115th year of Philippine Independence right on Madison Ave. from 39th St. to 23rd St. where an open air festival was held with music, food and good times. Kicking off the parade was an impressive group called FIND Inc. where members represented a human flag of the Philippines and displayed the parade theme: ”Celebrating the Renaissance of Filipino Pride, Our faith, our values, our heritage: It’s fun to be Pinoy!” Following FIND were parade organizers and VIPs and then the fun started. Various Filipino celebrities arrived on floats waving at their adoring sometimes screaming fans. Social issues regarding human trafficking and imprisonment were highlighted by some groups.
The Spanish influence was clearly seen in some of the evening dresses and parasols the elegant ladies wore. A larger group wore decorative masks giving any parade in New Orleans a run for their money. Then more cultural costumes more in tune with the native culture appeared first with Bukidnon in their colorful red costumes and swaying dance moves. Another crowd pleaser came in a group PIT Senor with their fan dancers and a woman holding a small statue of baby Jesus in devotion and dancing around the other group members. That was fun to watch. Of course a parade isn’t a parade without a marching band and the band from Mother Cabrini High School in Upper Manhattan did not disappoint. Setting the stage for the grand finale were the loud and proud group of the Aklan Association dressed in their native attire. They were having lots of fun and got the crowd worked up for the much-anticipated group from the Philippines, the dancers from Dinagyang Festival. They were the winners of a dance festival held each January in the Philippines and are invited to participate in the largest independence celebration outside the Philippines. What a thrill it must have been for some of those high school students being in the Big Apple for the first time. The crowd welcomed them with lots of love and appreciation. They closed out the parade and everyone headed towards Madison Square Park where the celebration continued with many happy Filipino faces.