Days before June 12, cities around the San Francisco Bay Area started raising the Philippine flag to commemorate and celebrate the 123rd Independence Day of the Pearl of the Orient Seas.

Daly City, one of the first cities to ever raise the flag during Philippine Independence Day has almost 40 percent Filipino population. It was again the first Bay Area city to raise the flag last June 7.

The event was attended by Daly City officials led by Mayor Juslyn Manalo, Vice-mayor Rod Daus-Magbual, Councilmembers Ray Buenaventura, Glenn Sylvester and Pam DiGiovanni, and other city officials.

Officials from the San Francisco Philippine Consulate-General was led by new Consul Gen. Neil Ferrer, Deputy Consul Gen. Raquel Solano, Consul Vanessa Bago-Llona, Trade Commissioner Celynne Layug,  Tourism Director Soleil Tropicales, among others.

In her speech, Manalo acknowledged that both her parents were born and raised in the Philippines, became the first Filipina Mayor of the city dubbed as the Gateway to the Peninsula and is “so humbled and proud” to do so.

Filipino American Daly City Mayor Juslyn Manalo (second from left) and the esteemed members of the Daly City Council composed of Vice-mayor Rod Daus-Magbual (third from right), Councilmembers Ray Buenaventura (extreme left), Pam DiGiovanni and Glenn Sylvester (in barong) presented a Proclamation to Consul General Ferrer declaring the 7th of June as Philippines Day in Daly City.

“They raised both my sister, Carley Ann and I with the values of kapwa, pakikiramdambayanihan and to embrace our Philippine heritage by speaking to us in Tagalog,” Manalo shared. “As my husband and I raise our two children Ethyn and Juselle we will be sharing with them the heroes and heroines, like Lapu Lapu, Tandang Sora, Gabriella Silang, Andres Bonifacio  and as Filipino Americans we will continue to honor Larry Itliong, Philip Vera Cruz, Tita Alice Bulos, Steve Arevalo, and Dawn Mabalon, among others as we now see representation and so proud of California Attorney General Rob Bonta.”

For his part, ConGen Ferrer voiced much appreciation in witnessing for the first time  the first in-person flag-raising that he is attending in the Bay Area as the top Consulate official in a city where four out of the five city council members are of Filipino descent.  

“This year’s celebration is momentous as we are also celebrating the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the United States.  The friendship between these two countries has been strengthened by its people-to-people relations, especially in locations such as Daly City, where Philippine culture and heritage continue to thrive.  We hope that the leadership and people of Daly City will continue to serve as the bridge that links our two countries together,” Ferrer noted.     

Elaborating on the theme of this year’s celebration “Diwa ng Kalayaan sa Pagkakaisa at Paghilom ng Bayan,” (“The Spirit of Freedom in Unity and National Healing.”), Ferrer explained that Filipinos imbibe freedoms they continue to enjoy towards achieving unity and healing as the nation recovers from the pandemic.

“Like many of you, I am pleased to be out and about after more than a year of sheltering-in-place.  We have all experienced an extraordinary year and we are looking forward to California’s expected re-opening in a week’s time.  As we remember the heroism of those who fought for independence, we pay tribute to the everyday heroes of the pandemic, including our Filipino frontliners,” Ferrer acknowledged.

Consul General Neil Frank Ferrer raised the Philippine flag with Perla Ibarrientos, Executive Director of Pilipino Bayanihan Resource Center.

“In the spirit of freedom, let us unite as a community in celebrating our National Day, even as we continue to heal and recover from our experience of this pandemic. Let this experience strengthen us and bring us closer together as a people,” concluded Ferrer who also invited everyone to the virtual Philippine Independence Day celebration that will showcase the best of Filipino talent in the Bay Area to be broadcast on the Philippine Consulate’s Facebook page at 6 p.m. Pacific Time on June 26.

It will also be available on The Filipino Channel on June 27 and on TFC’s cable TV on July 11.  

As of press time, flag-raising ceremonies on the 123rd Philippine Independence Day are also scheduled in Colma Town Hall on Wednesday and San Francisco City Hall on Friday.