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Philippine Independence Day 2020 is celebrating the nation’s heroic frontliners in the battle against the coronavirus disease pandemic amid simpler ceremonies following health and safety protocols of the community quarantine to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The commemoration of June 12, 2020, carries the theme, “Kalayaan 2020: Tungo sa Bansang Malaya, Nagbabayanihan, at Ligtas (Kalayaan 2020: Towards a Free, United, and Safe Nation)” in various celebration sites across the nation.
In Austria, the traditional Philippine Independence Day Ball
Because of the current situation that has shaken the world and is still currently being experienced by all nations, the traditional Philippine Independence Day Ball in Vienna had been cancelled with the abiding effect of Covid-19 pandemic.
Following the Austrian government’s mandates to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, the Philippine Independence celebration still prevails through the power of social media. For the first time in the history of Philippine Independence Day celebrations, an online event entitled „Wagayway ng Watawat sa Austria“ was conducted virtually on June 12, 2020.
Likewise, in connection with the celebration of the 122nd Philippine independence Day, the Philippine-Austrian Cultural and Educational Society (PACES) in cooperation with the City of Vienna organized a Floral Offering Ceremony at the Rathausplatz Park where a Catalpa Tree had been planted on June 5, 1998 – on the commemoration of 100 Jahre Philippinen and the story of Filipinos who, despite differences in culture and language, succeeded in planting their roots in foreign soil, which is Austria.
The mayor of Vienna, Michael Ludwig, (Austrian Social Party) graced the occasion with the presence of the Philippine Ambassador to Vienna, Maria Cleofe Natividad
„We are very much honored that inspite of your tight schedule you came here to be with us,“ Ambassador Natividad thanked the Viennese Mayor.
„This occasion is very special for us. This is the very first time, a lot of us are out after the three month long lockdown, after the pandemic and after the quarantine. It is also special that the very first time we are gathered, it is to celebrate our freedom, a freedom not only from a former colonizer, but freedom from poverty, freedom from any kind of disease, whih we are able to enjoy in this beautiful country and city of Vienna. We are so blessed that none of us have been terribly touched by the disease,“ the Ambassador said in her speech.
The Ambassador likewise mentioned about the big celebration of the Austro-Filipino Community in 2021. Because oft he COVID-19 pandemic, the huge activities had been revoked.
„This year is very important for us because 2020 is supposed to be our preparation year for next year – the celebration of the 75th year of Philippine-Austian bilateral relation. We haver so many exciting activites but the pandemic put them down. Now our resources are very short. The budget oft he government has now to be shifted to the most needy in the Philippines. So, we are faced with that constraint. But that will not put us down. Next year, we will have meaningful activities in ordert o celebrate all the wonderful partnership between Austria and the Philippines. We have so much to celebrate next year and with the presence of our good mayor – I know that we willnot be alone. I know that you will support us,“ Ambassador Natividad said.
Viennese Mayor Michael Ludwig extended his congratulations on the occasion of the 122nd Philippine Independence Day. The Mayor challenged the Filipino community to plant another tree at the City Hall park on the occasion of the 125th Anniversary Celebrations of Philippine Independence in three years.
„I want to congratulate you on 122nd Independence Day. It was 20 years ago when my predecessor set this tree – maybe in 3 years, the 125th anniversary of your independence, we can plant the next tree. We intend to show the good relation between the two countries,“ Mayor Ludwig said.
The good Mayor also thanked the Filipinos and Filipinas, who came to Vienna in search for work.
„But I would also like to say thank you for those Filipinos and Filipinas who came to work in Vienna, in international organizations, science and research, especially in social health. Especially now that we are in health crisis, we are proud of our health care system. This has to do with beautiful hospitals but especially with the people who work in the hospitals. I think of the nurses who came from the Philippines – because they are very excellent, competent and friendly. The warmth of the Filipino nurses is very important for us in Vienna,“ Mayor Ludwig affirmed
It should be noted that the tree, planted under the leadership of the former Viennese Mayor Michael Häupl is also a symbol of successful integration of Filipino migrants in Austria.
The Floral Offering Ceremony took place on June 12, 2020 at 15 Hours.
- Hector Pascua