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03/06/2009: Month-Long Commemoration of 111th Anniversary of Philippine Independence Underway in Washington DC

03 JUNE 2009 WASHINGTON DC – The month-long commemoration of the 111th Anniversary of Philippine Independence is underway in the Greater Metro DC area with a full slate of activities launched by the Philippine American Foundation for Charities, Inc. and the Philippine Festival Committee and other organizations in partnership with the Philippine Embassy.

The commemoration kicked off on June 3 with the opening of a week-long exhibit at the Philippine Embassy’s Romulo Hall featuring works of some 18 Filipino and Filipino artists in painting, mixed media, photography and sculpture.

An estimated 150 people attended the ribbon cutting ceremonies and reception had Philippine Ambassador to the United States Willy C. Gaa as Guest of Honor.

Philippine culture and heritage took centerstage on June 5 with Simbuyo 2009:  Commemorating Philippine Independence; Celebrating Philippine Culture and the Arts, a concert performance featuring Effie Nanas Ballet School from Manila and the Northern Virginia Rondalla, the Ateneo Alumni Choir, pianist Ms. Genevieve Llames and the Pilipino American Cultural Arts Society.

Held at the 500-seater Grand Theatre of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Visitors Center in Kensington, Maryland, the concert performance showed excellence in Philippine artistry in traditional artistic and modern forms while highlighting scenes from the Philippines through changing visual backdrops.

Simbuyo 2009 was presented by the Philippine American Foundation for Charities, Inc. in partnership with the Embassy of the Philippines.

A scholarly presentation on the oldest known book printed in the Philippines was made on June 9 at the Library of Congress.

Von Totanes, Phd candidate at the University of Toronto, delivered the presentation to a diverse crowd of librarians, historians and book enthusiasts in his talk entitled “The Doctrina Christiana of 1593 and the “Other” Book: The Importance of the First Books Printed in the Philippines.”   The Doctrina Christiana was presented to the audience after the talk.

In his talk, Mr. Totanes, also raised the question,"Why do these books matter?" Mr. Totanes said: The importance of the imprints lies in the fact that they effectively communicate the idea that printing in the Philippines—and Philippine history—is inextricably linked with the non-Filipino, and that Filipino culture is what it is today because of contact with the Chinese, the Spanish and the Americans. The first books printed in the Philippines, though not strictly "Filipino," are a physical reminder of the plurality of the nature and culture of the Filipino and the Philippines.

The lecture was co-sponsored by the Embassy of the Philippines, the Library of Congress Asian Division Friends Society and the Library of Congress Asian American Association.

Several more events are lined up during the month, including the launching of the coffee table book on Filipino World War II Veterans by Bay Area photographer Rick Rocamora on June 18, Philippine Independence Gala Ball on June 20 at the JW Marriott in Washington DC, and Pistang Pilipino on June 28 – which takes the place of the parade along Pennsylvania Avenue – on Tucker Road, Fort Washington.

Schedule events may be accessed at the Cultural subsection of the Philippine Embassy website at www.philippineembassy-usa.org. END