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Grand talks about unity and Gabriel Fabella, Father of Independence Day

President Diosdado Macapagal earned the distinction of being a nationalist president when he signed the law moving the date of Philippine Independence Day from July 4 to June 12. However, others credit academician Gabriel Fabella as the true "Father of June 12". Photo shows Filipino Americans gathered around the flag for the traditional opening of an Independence Day celebration.

The week that passed saw a frenzy of celebrations in various parts of the homeland and in foreign shores where compatriots now reside. Philippine Independence Day celebrations in this part of U.S.A. have always been appropriate occasions not only to commemorate our past struggles against foreign domination but also in highlighting our community's interaction and collaboration with others in the country. And unity of the Filipino community, if I may add.

At least in our part of California, it had not been that way in the past. In the City of Carson, for example, the two main Filipino organizations for years had been trying to outshine each other in celebrating the day's significance. There has been a united celebration this year, thank you.

In Los Angeles, I recall that time in 2001 when the designation by the consul general of his wife as overall Independence Day chair led to the splintering of a prominent community group and the holding of two separate gala dinner-balls. Thus on June 9 of that year then Senate President Aquilino Pimentel commuted one after the other as guest speaker of two Independence Day evening events held in different parts of this city. The lingering animosity between the two groups was partly blamed for the subsequent recall and replacement of that consul general.

Anyway, Gil Mislang, chair for Kalayaan 2010, mentioned this need for unity and may be excused for vaunting his "great happiness for our success in celebrating the 112th Anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence... At a time when our community needed a shining moment to uplift its sagging spirit caused by the economic turmoil." Many in the audience "dressed to the hilt in their terno na sayas and barong tagalogs exhibited the elegance of our native dress" and supposedly shed tears of patriotism and pride by the performances, Mislang claimed.

Well and good. If only so many more in the community were able to witness such patriotic, historic and cultural rendition that were so compelling as to prompt the shedding of tears. The fact is that for a long time now segments in this community of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos have complained about the elitism of the yearly event, which by its nature should have catered to the majority of countrymen but instead limited -- especially at this time of economic turmoil -- to the fortunate few who could afford the prohibitive costs that high-end venues require.

Further on the topic of the June 12 celebrations, Eddie Calderon, a Minnesota-based Ph.D., had generated much traffic in an Internet discussion board regarding his advocacy for the giving of appropriate honors to the late Professor Gabriel Fabella as the architect of the June 12 RP Independence Day.

In 1959 Calderon took Philippine Nationalism under Professor Fabella, at that time chair of UP Department of History and acting director of UP Clark Air Base Branch. It was the latter's passion and crusade that eventually changed the date of observance of that national holiday, the former student said.

A 2008 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer carries an item by Kristoffer Esquejo entitled Gabriel F. Fabella: 'Father of June 12'. Esquejo noted that in 1962 President Diosdado Macapagal moved the date of Philippine Independence from July 4 to June 12. Such nationalist gesture earned Macapagal the distinction of being a nationalist president and since then, he had been commended for his well-deserved decision. However, Esquejo added, Fabella did not receive any credit except being mentioned in several newspapers and dubbed by his contemporary scholars the "Father of June 12." -- Text and photo by Dionesio C. Grava

Note: Also published in the Pinas Global Newspaper
Dionesio C. Grava - Part-time community journalist based in Los Angeles and editorial writer at Forum Asia.

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