The Philippine Independence Day Picnic of the Filipino Community in The Netherlands 1988 - 2008
Munting Nayon News Magazine The Netherlands May 31, 2009
No other event in the Filipino community of The Netherlands can aptly be tagged as THE event of the year…more than The Philippine Independence Day Picnic.
THE picnic that began in 1988 became the community’s biggest annual reunion and showcase of Philippine culture, and for 20 years until 2008, organized by THE COALITION.
June 2003 -Picnickers at the Philippine Independence Day picnic MN archive photo
Philippine Independence Day Celebration: The Beginning and How it all started
1960s – Mid-80s
During the late 60s, the practice, following protocol, was to give only a reception for members of the diplomatic corps in celebration of Philippine Independence Day, with Ambassador Eduardo Quintero, then Philippine’s envoy to the Netherlands. Filipinos and Dutch friends and businessmen were invited by the ambassador to his home on that occasion. It was a small Community then, comprising mostly of scholars, around five Filipinas married to Dutch and a small group of nurses.
June 1963 -Cultural presentation-Philippine Independence Day celebration
Philippine Embassy – The Hague
When the Dutch government during the term of Ambassador Delfin R. Garcia contracted the first batch of nurses to work in the hospitals in Leiden and Utrecht followed by Berghaus recruiting groups of young Filipinas with Filipina social workers to work in their factories and offices in Gendringen, Ulft, Wehl and Amsterdam. … the list of invitees grew in number.
June 1965-Oriental Evening-Philippine Independence Day celebration
Philippine Embassy-The Hague
It was easy to reach people during that time as evey Filipino(a) who came to the country registered at the Embassy. They were contacted by Orquidia Valenzuela who was then the embassy’s secretary…. for a private gathering in the home of the ambassador.
The first Philippine Independence Day celebration held in The Netherlands for the Filipino community was organized by the Philippine Embassy when Rogelio de la Rosa was appointed Ambassador to the Netherlands in 1971.
In 1973, in celebration of the Philippine Independence Day, the community’s first-ever picnic, was held in Openluchtmuseum in Arnhem and was organized by the Philippine Embassy, followed in 1974, which was held in ZuiderPark in The Hague.
Philippine Independence Day Picnic 1974 Zuider Park – The Hague
In the years that followed, till the mid-80s, one organization, DUTCH-PHILIPPINE ASSOCIATION (DPA) had a yearly celebration of the Philippine’s Independence in their annual Cultural Evening, then held in June.
The Philippine Independence Day Picnic- 1988 - 2008
In June 11, 1988, three organizations, Barangay sa Holland (BSH), Samahan sa Netherlands and United Filipino Dutch Association (UFDA) held their very first Independence Day Picnic. The event, attended by members and friends of the three organizations was held in Gaasperplas Park in Amsterdam.
1989-Two groups, DAMAYAN and CFMW joined the original three organizing members. The June 10, 1989 Picnic, as in previous year, was held in Gaasperplas-Amsterdam.
In June 9, 1990, BSH held its Philippine Independence Day Picnic, alone.
In June 8, 1991, following the success of their joint celebration of 1988 and 1989, the three organizations, with participation of Filipino Sports Club of The Hague (FSC) for the third time held the event, The picnic with picnickers now growing in numbers, was held in the same venue, Gaasperplas.
The Birth of THE COALITION
1992: Four groups, Barangay sa Holland (BSH), Samahan sa Netherlands, Filipino Sports Club of The Hague (FSC*) and United Filipino Dutch Association (UFDA) during its brainstorming meeting in preparation of the 1992 Picnic Celebration introduced for the first time the name COALITION as the collective name of the four organizations, with the annual Philippine Independence Day Celebration Picnic as their main activity.
With its ever-increasing attendance in numbers…so was the expenses required by the COALITION. The 1992 picnic for the first time got its first sponsors... PNB and PCIB providing Free Soft Drinks to all picnickers. Munting Nayon (MN) for its part, in solidarity with the organizers and support of the PICNIC sponsored prizes for the celebration’s main event...The Tug-O-War. To augment the organizer’s financial burden, they also (for the first time) requested the food stall holders to contribute a token amount.
Gaasperplas Park, getting “smaller” for the picnic, the organizer moved the venue to the Spaarnwoude Rekreatie Park, Houtrak area, in Halfweg. With ever bigger public participation, the venue for Picnic 2007 and 2008 was held in a much larger area…the sprawling Evenement Terrain of Spaarnwoude Rekreatie Park that can accommodate as much as 10,000 crowd.
The Philippine Embassy through all the years has given its full support, cooperation and participation in the celebration, notably during the term of Ambassador Romeo A. Arguelles who never missed a single picnic during his first posting in the early 90s and when he returned for his second posting in The Netherlands in 2002.
(*) note: FSC’s last year of organizational PICNIC participation was in 2003
Sponsors for the PICNIC
In 1996 PICNIC, with the organizer’s burgeoning budget requirement, Munting Nayon was requested to assume the task (on behalf of the COALITION) of soliciting sponsorships to finance the event’s Raffle Draw, the proceeds to be used to augment the event’s expenses. Until PICNIC 2006 MN shouldered the responsibility of leading the fund-raising efforts of the Coalition. MN requested sponsors, for administration purposes, to direct their pledged amount to Samahan Account, COALITION’s designated PICNIC finance administrator. MN’s fund-raising in all these years was a success.
To generate more cash for the Picnic’s sky-rocketing expenditures the EURO 2,= per car parking fee was introduced in PICNIC 2004.
PICNIC 2000, attendance broke all records…an estimated of 1500 people were at the picnic. The PICNICs that followed until 2008 drew more and more participation from the community. The Cultural Bazaar was added in 2006. Every year there was an increase in stall holders. The PICNIC attracted various groups from the community and started participating in stage presentations. More and more people came with the introduction of professional artists like Nhelley dela Rosa, Mary Ann Morales, Mary Amora, Ruth Galura, Alyss Andico, Spy Honrado, ABS-CBN’s Rachel Alejandro and Randy Santiago.
Independence Day Picnic 2008
Attended by thousands…Picnic 2008 crowd was estimated to be no less than 7000, held in Spaarnwoude Rekreatie Park in Halfweg-The Netherlands. THE picnic provided a day of entertainment, fun, and above all…bonding for old friends and an introduction for newcomers in a community that has grown by leaps and bounds since the pioneers arrived in the 60s.
Requirements from Municipal Authorities
Picnic 2008’s attendance caught the attention of the Municipal and Park authorities.
With the crowd’s safety in mind, the authorities imposed all sorts of precautionary measures to be implemented during the event…ie licensed traffic regulators, complete First-Aid facilities manned by licensed personnel, fire extinguishers in food stalls, steel maats for ambulance / police car / fire trucks passage / x-number of eco-toilets / garbage containers….etc…municipal requirements / permits that carry cost amounting to almost 60% of budgeted expenses….. these expenses that must be met…before D-day, in addition to the cost of soundsystem/stage to be provided as well as token amounts for x-number of volunteers.
PICNIC 2009: “ CANCELLED”, but new foundation organizes its own picnic???
MN has always been welcomed in all Coalition Picnic preparations from the very beginning since 1988, helping in the fund-raising, covering the event as media, and giving practical suggestions to the organizers, MN present in almost all of its preparation picnic meetings.
March 19, 2009: The Last COALITION meeting
On March 19, 2009 (about 2-1/2 months away from D-day, representatives of member organizations SAMAHAN, UFDA and BSH, (with participation of Eddie Flores (MN) as an observer) met to discuss PICNIC 2009 preparation progress, as well as the formation of a foundation. It was in this meeting where an exchange of opinions ensued between Samahan and UFDA., with UFDA insisting on the immediate establishment of a "Kalayaan Fiesta Foundation" to take over the COALITION, and SAMAHAN taking the view that the setting up of this new foundation can wait until after the scheduled Picnic on June 6 so that the organizers can give all their attention to Picnic preparations. To ease the tension prevailing in the room, Eddie Flores (MN) raised his hand on two occasions to make some suggestions, only to be shouted at by an UFDA representative, “ Eddie…be quiet.... you are just an observer in this meeting!”
Last Coalition Meeting Attendees:
L-R: Jimmy Munoz(UFDA), Peter Payoyo (SAMAHAN), Zaldy Manalo (UFDA), Lany Elleswijk (BSH), Erning Dalusong (BSH), Scarlet Brusola (BSH), Baby Gonzales (SAMAHAN), Cena Nieuwenhuyse (UFDA) and Jun Ortega (UFDA).
Not in photo-Eddie Flores (MN) as an observer.
Hoofddorp – March 19, 2009
March 20: THE COALITION, (organizer of The Picnic for the last 20 years) reported about March 19 meeting issued a press release about the meeting to Munting Nayon and published in MN 227 (March 28, 2009 issue): “ ………With some new faces and some novel concepts, the setting was truly cozy although a bit of adrenaline sometimes inched up in the midst of lively discussions……..”
April 10: MN received an email from Samahan inviting Eddie Flores to participate in the next Coalition meeting scheduled on April 18, saying "... your participation as observer is one way of showing Coalition appreciation to MN, which has always played a very important role in the preparations/publicity of the Picnic……"
April 12: MN received an email from UFDA canceling the invitation issued by Samahan and saying "This is not the right time for you to come as observer. We will solve first our problem within the group before we invite you….."
April 18: MN received two press releases, first from UFDA and then later from Samahan. Both were published in MN’s April 30 issue (MN228) as headliners:
SAMAHAN Press Release: Picnic Cancelled
“ It is the sad duty of Samahan to inform our entire community that the Independence Day Picnic, scheduled for 6 June 2009 at the Spaarnwoudepark, has been cancelled.
The park authorities who assist Samahan in overseeing the safety and security of all picnickers every year, have advised the Picnic organizers to cancel the event…….….”
UFDA/BS H Press Release: Picnic to Push Through
“ The community is deeply saddened by the unexpected decision & announcement without notice made by our co-organizer, Samahan. With due respect, UFDA & Barangay sa Holland are strongly opposing the cancellation!
On this ground, UFDA & Barangay sa Holland are determined to mobilize all means & efforts to push through the Independence picnic on June 6…….”
No Picnic 2009 Announcement in MN229 (May Issue) ??
May 7: On holiday, while in the middle of a guided tour of the Carthagenean ruins in Tunisia, MN received a text message from an officer of UFDA:
“Ed…..… we want to publish on may issue assuming mn is still supporting ufda n bsh on june 6 picnic…….pls confirm if u can accommodate our request otherwise we will find another solution about our publicity issue salamat n happy holiday we need your confirmation today asap!”
The ultimatum was noted. In the midst of a holiday, Eddie decided to attend to UFDA’s message as soon as he arrives in Holland.
May 10: Upon arrival in Holland, MN turn on its PC to check emails…and MN’s nightmare of all nightmares happened…….the PC crashed!!! Lost messages….lost files !!! … However, since the deadline for submission of materials from the public was well known (announced in MN228-April Issue) as May 20, MN was assured that all materials to be published were submitted.
May 20: With PC repaired (thanks to Julian and Jeroen)……and just out of pure luck that MN made a stickmemory backup for MN229 materials, layout for the May issue was finished on May 20…! MN’s deadline.
May 21: MN received an email from UFDA:
“Ed……We would like to place if possible some announcement on your MN May issue about the progress of the picnic…..”
May 21: MN’s response to UFDA’s email:
“hello to all…. Our May issue layout is already finalized…already past the deadline….because of our PC crash…. not possible to make changes……
Eddie will be there on this day….”
May 28: MN229 (May 30 issue) was mailed…. without any Kalayaan Fiesta Foundation announcement.
MN photographer-Independence Day Picnics from 1988 to 2008
MN NOT ALLOWED TO COVER KALAYAAN FIESTA PICNIC??
Munting Nayon, as in the last 20 years, was all set to cover the Independence Day celebrations in the community ……..until May 26 when it read by chance in Kalayaan Fiesta’s blogsite…..
Quote: "….. During their recent meeting, the organizers [Kalayaan Fiesta Foundation] have agreed that only ABS CBN will do the exclusive, official media coverage of this event in coordination with KFFN's Officers.” Unquote
….. this statement by its organizers thereby explicitly disallows MN and other media except ABS-CBN to cover the KALAYAAN FIESTA in celebration of the 111th Philippine Independence Day.
In view of the KFFN’s above statement, MN therefore will not cover this picnic event.
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