Lawmaker to overseas Filipinos: Show unity, love for country

2024 July 1

INDEPENDENCE EVENT. Senator Jinggoy Estrada (5th from left) joins the 126th Independence Day’s culminating event, Sandiwa Fiesta sa Europa, in Milan, Italy on Sunday (June 30, 2024). Consul General Elmer Cato (6th from left) thanked Estrada for gracing the event. (Photo courtesy of Alona Cochon)

MILAN, Italy – Filipinos abroad must show to the world their unity and love for country to maintain the freedom the Philippines earned 126 years ago.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada made the call as he joined some 15,000 overseas Filipino workers who attended the weekend “Sandiwa Fiesta Sa Europa” to wrap up their one-month commemoration of the Philippines’ 126th Independence Day in Milan, Italy on Sunday.

“Sa paggunita ng ating Kalayaan ngayon araw, ipakita natin ang pagkakaisa nating mga Filipino. Ipagmalaki natin ang ating lahi, at ipakita natin sa buong mundo ang tapang at pagmamahal natin sa ating inang bayan (In commemorating our independence today, let us show the unity of Filipinos. Let’s be proud of our race, and let’s show the whole world our courage and love for our motherland),” he said in his message.

He said the Philippine government, under President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., will continue to address challenges, including the dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Estrada said the government will continue to use peaceful and diplomatic approaches to resolve the issue.

The lawmaker thanked the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in Milan for providing support and services to Filipinos as well as initiatives such as the two-day Sandiwa Fiesta sa Europa to commemorate the Independence Day.

“Sa ganitong pagtitipon at pagkakataon ay naipapadama sa inyo na kayo ay mahalaga at naipapakitang malasakit sa isa’t isa malayo man sa ating bansang Pilipinas (In these gatherings and opportunities, you are made to feel that you are important and show concern for each other, even you are far from our country, the Philippines),” Estrada said.

“Sa harap ng maraming hamon at pagsubok, nawa’y manatili tayong matatag at buo ang loob. Huwag natin kalimutan ang ating pinagmulan, ang pagbabayanihan, at ang ating pagka Pilipino. Ang inyong pagmamahal sa ating kultura at tradition, maging ang inyong dedikasyon sa pagangat sa buhay ay nagpapakita ng tunay na diwa ng ating kalayaan (In the face of many challenges and trials, may we remain strong and courageous. Let’s not forget our origin, our spirit of helping each other, and being a Filipino. Your love for our culture and tradition, even your dedication to improving life shows the true spirit of our freedom),” he added.

Consul General Elmer Cato also commended the unity and solidarity amongst Filipinos in Italy and other parts of Europe as shown in the month-long activities that celebrated the country’s independence.

“Narito rin tayo para dinggin ang panawagan ng ating mahal na pangulo, si President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr., para magka-isa at magtulungan ang sambayanang Pilipino para maitayo natin ang isang bagong Pilipinas (We are also here to listen to the call of our President, President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr., for Filipinos to unite and work together so that we can build a new Philippines),” Cato said in his message.

Organized by the PCG and the Kalayaan Organizing Committee (KOC) headed by Noel Carillo, the Sandiwa Fiesta sa Europa was highlighted by the various cultural performances, including MassKara dancers of Bacolod City.

Other major Independence Day activities in Italy included the Kalayaan Ball held June 2, Kalayaan Run won by Michael Gonda (men’s division) and Evelyn Batongbakal (women’s division), and Mutya ng Kalayaan 2024 won by Nicole Lopez of Torino, Piemento on June 29.

In an interview with PTV, Cato attributed the successful one-month celebration of Independence Day to the support of the Filipino community in Milan.

 “This event goes to show that we could accomplish a lot of things if we are together,” he said. “Sandiwa is one spirit. We as Filipinos, we have to rise above our differences.”

 He said they decided to hold the Sandiwa Fiesta in two days to give many groups, including from the Philippines and different areas in Europe, to celebrate the Kalayaan 2024.