The annual Philippine Independence Day celebration for Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan will return for the first time in three years on Sunday, with up to 3,000 people expected to attend, after a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) said Thursday.
The "2022 Fun Run Joint Philippine Independence and Migrant Worker's Day Celebration" will feature three-kilometer and one-kilometer races with approximately 2,000 runners, speeches from officials, a hip-hop dance contest, performances by local Philippine bands and rappers, and 46 stalls selling products, services, and food, Philippine labor attaché in Taiwan Cesar Chavez, Jr. told CNA in a phone interview.
The event's venue, located at New Taipei Metropolitan Park in the city's Sanchong District, can host up to 5,000 people, but only between 2,000 and 3,000 people are expected to attend because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Chavez said.
However, many Filipino migrant caregivers might not attend the event because a significant proportion of the elderly that they look after are not up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations due to prior underlying health conditions, Chavez said.
CNA video of 2019 Philippine Independence Day celebration in New Taipei
Furthermore, only those who have received a minimum of two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, with the exception of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, are allowed entry to the event, Chavez said.
In addition, children and older people with prior underlying medical conditions are also discouraged from attending the event for their own protection against COVID-19, Chavez said.
For everyone else, who have been fully vaccinated and are not displaying any symptoms, lunch coupons will be handed out for the first 3,000 people, Chavez said.
One of the differences at this year's event is that Filipino celebrities will not be performing as in previous years, such as in 2018 and 2019, when big names such as Bela Padilla and Arnell Ignacio took to the stage, respectively.
"The plan was to bring in artists from Manila, but because of the existing quarantine in Taiwan, and we are not able to get an exception, the artists will have to be quarantined for seven days plus seven days of self-health management. So, all the artists we were negotiating with backed out because of the quarantine," Chavez said.
Despite the disappointment of not being able to see any celebrities from the Philippines at this year's celebration, Chavez said he believed that the majority of the Filipino community would understand.
The Filipino community in Taiwan consists mainly of a large migrant worker population of 141,328 employed in the manufacturing and caregiving sectors, according to Ministry of Labor data, valid as of the end of April.