Since last year, we have deviated from the traditional MECO practice of holding independence day celebrations in five-star hotels. The cut-and-dried celebrations were highlighted by toasts offered by the Deputy Minister of Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and us, after speeches extolling our close economic and people-to-people relationships. We would feature Philippine cuisine, or best approximations of these, along with some entertainment, and our staff dressed in barongs and ternos.
Last year, we chose the former residence of a Taiwanese World War II hero, Gen. Sun Li Ren, also in the middle of Taipei, now converted into an art gallery and garden restaurant. But we asked our staff to come in simple Filipiniana attire, instead of spending on fabulous gowns just to present a “good” face for the country.
And last Wednesday, June 12, we held the affair at the former Japanese structure preserved in the midst of tall downtown Taipei buildings. We brought in a 12-person musical ensemble, composed of ten instrumentalists led by Mr. Bernie Pasamba along with a soprano and tenor. They held a concert where they played classical and popular music from Pilipino to international fare, including President Duterte’s signature song, “Ikaw” to the delight of our guests from the foreign diplomatic community and Taiwan officials. It was a rather casual affair where San Miguel beer flowed along with typical Filipino cocktail pica-pica. We even had a “dirty ice cream” cart, serving ube, avocado and mango flavors, courtesy of a start-up in Metro Manila called Sorbelato. No pork or lechon could be served because of strict quarantine restrictions on account of the African swine fever problem which Taiwan is strictly guarding against.
In all, despite the heavy downpour, it was an enjoyable evening. Two nights later, we hosted the leaders of the Filipino community associations in a dinner with sing-along performances by the guests who had a terrific evening celebrating our national day.
Yesterday, our Philippine Overseas Labor Office and the Welfare Office (OWWA) representative in Taipei held the annual Migrant Workers’ Day at the Xingfu Shuiyang Park in New Taipei City, with no less than newly-elected Mayor Hou You Yi gracing the occasion. About seven hundred OFWs from Northern Taiwan had several activities, from a fun run to cultural presentations, highlighted by the presence of former OWWA Deputy Administrator and entertained Arnell Ignacio who delighted the crowd with his funny stand-up acts.
On said occasion, we read the President’s message to our migrant workers in Taiwan, where he thanked them for “continuing to hold in your hearts the values of a true Filipino, even while you are miles away from home.”
“Let us always remember the sacrifices of our forebears which led to the freedom that we enjoy today…use their bravery and patriotism as an inspiration as you reach for your personal goals and partake in our agenda of improving the welfare of our people and nation,” said the President in his message to our Filipino community in Taiwan.
Separately in Taichung for Central Taiwan and Kaohsiung for Southern Taiwan, Migrant Workers’ Day coincided with the commemoration of our National Day.
In all, we commemorated our independence day with meaningful events participated in by our Filipino community in Taiwan, and with the well wishes of our host officialdom and the diplomatic community there.