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Thousands of Picnickers Celebrate Philippine Independence Day

Peter Payoyo
The Netherlands
June 9, 2007

It was another grand and memorable community picnic. The fiesta-like Independence Day celebrations on June 9 at the Spaarnwoudepark in Haarlem gathered thousands of picnickers in a whole day of fun, food and sunny festivity.
People Power

As in previous years, this year's Picnic was a colorful and enjoyable event for everyone: for the young and not-so-young, for families and friends, and for new-comers and old-timers from near and far. According to the Coalition organizers, the record number of people who joined the celebrations proves the ever-increasing popularity of the Picnic as a community tradition in observance of national freedom day: it has become the biggest, most sought-after "talagang Pinoy" annual reunion in the Netherlands.

People Power at the Picnic

The continuous stream of cars and people to the picnic grounds began as early as 7 AM and continued up to 4 PM. Notwithstanding the rain clouds and the wet grass in the morning, picnickers eagerly unrolled their picnic mats, and by noon-time, hundreds of picnic tents have sprung across the sprawling greenery.

There were over 900 cars controlled at the park entrance. Guests from abroad were clearly not wanting, with autos bearing plates from as far as Germany, Belgium and France occasionally seen.

Ambassador Romy Arguelles delivers an inspirational speech.
To many, it was a family day. Barbecue smoke wafted everywhere while children and their pets ran around and played under the sun. Even lolos and lolas cheerfully carried folding chairs and baons from the parking grounds to their picnic tents. And a big family reunion it was: numerous picnickers basked in the delight of seeing and greeting long-time-no-see relatives, friends, and kababayans at the Picnic.

It was a real fiesta, with the tradition of family, food, friendship, and festive sharing outdoors dominating the scene. Among the many happy words said about the picnic, the following comment (emailed by Ms. Rose Rivera, an officer at Cordaid who will return home to the Philippines soon) sums up the social atmosphere last June 9: "Bread was multiplied in the picnic ... We came without a tent and but found ourselves welcomed in so many tents. We came without provision but had our fill. What was amazing most of all was that while conflict exists in some of our Filipino organizations and yet the picnic became an exceptional venue of solidarity. They were all there! On the lighter side, there was the latest craze in dancing and singing in the Philippines done by the performers. I was updated ... Around this time next year, I shall probably be reckoning the Netherland's picnic experience, being in the Philippines by then. When I shall do that I will wear a smile and feel a certain pride of my countrymen living in the Netherlands."

Echte Entertainment at the Picnic

The spirit of community solidarity and kumustahan on Independence Day was highlighted by Ambassador Arguelles who opened the on-stage programme early in afternoon with an inspirational message. And in keeping with tradition, all embassy officials were introduced to the picnic crowd. Afterwards, emcees Rose Ann and Ramil unpacked a full programme of high-quality entertainment on-stage
Ruth Galura

featuring song and dance numbers by: MUAD Duet, Berny Qubing, Renzo Quintana, Michiel Roelse, Genny van Sommeren, David Verburg, Toto Zamora, the BSH Dancers, JIL-nl Dancers, Kids Transplant Philippines Dancers, Robmin Dancers, UFDA Dance Group, and the Wild Snix Dancers. The programme finished with a stunning 30-minute performance by local artist Ruth Galura.

One observer noted that the on-stage programme was a perfect reflection of the picnic - fun-filled and enjoyable, family-oriented, talented, pinoy-flavoured, and all-inclusive as there was always something special in store for anyone and everyone. The children, always crowding the front of the podium, could not agree more.

The Cultural Bazaar Experience


Over 60 business enterprises and entrepreneurs participated in the Picnic Cultural Bazaar which showcased a dizzying array of goods and community services advertised or offered for sale to the public. Some picnickers simply contented themselves with pinoy delicacies like puto, dinuguan and halo-halo as they grazed through the bazaar kraams. But many others grabbed the opportunity to shop Baclaran-style at the Bazaar area, buying patis, tsinelas, DVDs, jewelry, etc. etc. to bring home with them after the picnic.

The Bazaar was spearheaded by the Picnic's major sponsors, led by BM Air Reizen, Inter-Continental Trader, Mama Sita/Marigold Commodities Corp., Sunro Change BV, Western Union, and Munting Nayon. Other sponsors who were also prominently placed at the Bazaar were DMCI Homes, Equitable-PCI Bank Rotterdam, Philippine National Bank, and Van Vught Adviesgroep BV. The generosity of the sponsors in supporting the Independence Day celebrations was surely amply rewarded by the entire community during the Picnic.
Coalition Picnic Organization

"Gefeliciteerd. Je bent geslaagd." (Congratulations. You passed.) That was the verdict of the police supervisor as delivered to the Picnic organizers at 5 PM on June 9. He was of course referring to the implementation of the logistical details concerning: parking and traffic management, EHBO, marshalling and safeguarding of the picnic terrain, facilities for incidents and emergencies for such a huge gathering, and responses to on-the-ground complaints and concerns. The day-end briefing with the police and the park wardens was part of the Picnic plan which the Coalition organizers agreed with park and gemeente officials earlier to ensure a smooth and problem-free picnic. It was a very encouraging assessment, considering the months of difficult preparatory work leading to the picnic.

Picnic Organizers

Without doubt, the success of the Coalition (Barangay, Samahan and UFDA) in organizing the Independence Day Picnic was the result of thorough and professional work by volunteer community leaders who have assumed the big responsibility of delivering the wholesome tradition of the Independence Day Picnic. But their efforts would not have been meaningful without the vital support of the entire Filipino-Dutch community. Thanks again to all our kababayans and in particular: the performers and artists who have lent their talents to the community, the sponsors and donors who made it possible for the Coalition to meet the budget requirements of the Picnic, and last but not least, the enormous pinoy networks of families and friendships that have made the Independence Day Picnic celebration a truly proud Filipino tradition in the Netherlands. Mabuhay, salamat po sa lahat, at abangan ang ating 20th Coalition Picnic sa 2008! (Feedback, comments, suggestions, ideas about the Picnic are most welcome: please email any of the organizers or Munting Nayon.)

June 9, 2007
Spaarnwoude Park-Haarlem
The Netherlands


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    H ten Thije Boonkkamp
    Wed 18th February 2009
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