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2017 KFFN Philippine Independence Day Picnic filled with exciting performances and a grand climax

Angel Axinto
Spaarnwoude, Houtrak, the Netherlands
June 26, 2017


As our beloved countrymen in the south are facing Islamist terrorists in Marawi and our men in uniform are laying their lives fighting to free them and install peace, celebrating our Philippine Independence day could not be more meaningful than ever.

Organized by the Kalayaan Fiesta Foundation Netherlands (KFFN) and held last June 3, 2017, in Spaarnwoude, Houtrak, this yearly event of the KFFN is growing bigger in crowd and with more exciting entertainment on stage. This has become the biggest Philippine Independence Day celebration in the Netherlands whereby Filipinos not only in Holland but the neighboring countries such as Belgium, Germany, Luxemburg and even England would come to join and remember this very memorable day in the history of the Philippines - our Kalayaan  (Freedom) day!

The huge park in Spaarnwoude, Houtrak in North Holland was sprouting with tents in different sizes and colors, some beautifully draped with the Philippine flag, or the red, white and blue side by side with their organizations’ insignia. Picnic tables filled with food and drinks, as the smell of barbecue fills the air. In the inner row were some 70 commercial tents with all kinds of stuff for sale – from Philippine dry goods, beauty products, clothing, warm and cold refreshments, to mouth-watering irresistible Pinoy  ‘turo turo’ food. (it got its name from pointing or ‘turo’ to the food you would like to eat). Almost everything that is Filipino, were available just for that day. It is the most festive day of the year and Pinoys gather together to celebrate with their families and friends.  Childrens playground is specially erected for the children to enjoy.  A fun filled Saturday, where everyone could just unwind, meet friends, babble, make new friends, shop, relax, eat, drink and to top it all enjoy the live entertainment on stage.

And what a  beauty to behold seeing our lovely Philippine flag swaying free and proud!  It’s just incredible, it felt like just for a day, we were in our beloved native land. Although the day started with some rain showers as forecasted, nothing is going to hinder this celebration. People were ready to spend the whole day marking our Philippine Independence day, come rain or shine. But then right on schedule, as if on cue, the rain stopped, the sun came out and we started the program. Perfect timing!

No less than our very own Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands, Ambassador H.E. Jaime Victor Badillo Ledda and  Mayor Pieter Johannes Heiligers Of Haarlemmerleide and Spaarnwoude  headed this 119th Philippine Independence Day celebration.

Before starting his welcome speech, Philippine Ambassador Honorable Ledda asked everyone to pause for a silent prayer for our heroes who fought and died for our Independence. Having said that, he also asked everyone to pray for our soldiers who are risking their lives fighting to preserve this independence. This was very striking and went straight to the hearts of every Filipino listening to him. We all know what is happening in Marawi, we have seen the news, and a great number of us are following the news back home on a daily basis. Our hearts bleed for our Muslim countrymen whose freedom is being taken away from them by these heavily armed terrorists. Terror and  havoc in our homeland, hundreds are dead as the fighting continues. We watch the tube in honor and disbelief. We never thought this could happen to our beloved countrymen…but it is.  And so we need to be strong and united as one, as Filipinos, and pray for peace in our country. Being far from home, our prayers for heavenly intervention would make a lot of difference.  We must pray to God /Allah.

Mayor Pieter Johannes Heiligers on the other hand, welcomed the crowd and praised the unity and the beautiful culture of the Filipinos. He said it is always his pleasure to host this yearly Independence Day picnic in his jurisdiction. More so he added that he and his wife loves to nose around the tents and enjoys tasting our delicacies as well.

Line-up of guests included the Cebu City Dancesports team, who just reaped awards during the international dance contest in England. This team is composed of young skilled students from low-income families in Cebu City. Their dancing talents cultivated and refined by a foundation funded by the city government. Also appearing was the Cordilleran group-Mabikas foundation, Filmis Dance group, Zumba dancers, and a solo dance performance from Marwell Magtibay.

Kim Regasa who created waves by making it to ‘Hollands Got Talent’  in 2010, rendered a duet with Katrina Manaog , a former finalist of ‘The Voice Kids Holland’.  Other performers were Gina Donefern, Florian Romerts, Macey Loffeld, who joined the famous Netherlands singing contest called the Idols, Lalaine, Wendy and Mabel Regasa, the mother of Kim Regasa.

And not to miss was the Palarong Pinos (Parlor games) spearheaded by the game master Ramil Magtibay. Audience were asked to form into groups and compete with each other in a tagging game and it was so hilarious! A good exercise of the muscles.

All around diva and best known for her ‘Shirley Bassey’ impersonation, the beautiful Ruth Galura performed a 50minute concert. Her much awaited performance was so powerful that it made everybody dance! She is just irresistible, a true entertainer with top class. The crowd love her!

Live bands rocked the celebration. Taking turns were the Valrivia band, Rock Rebel bands and the Balustraders band. (pictures below)

 KFFN saved the best for last!  Unknown to the crowd, while the Rock Rebel band was playing, a very special guest was on his way. There was no mention of his/her identity, the crowd were just informed that a guest is coming and will be on stage after the last band which is the Balustraders.

Robin Padilla the actor, film director, screenwriter and producer made a surprise appearance at the end of the jubilation. This very famous ‘bad boy’ image actor turned Muslim climbed up the stage as the crowd screams. The charming actor serenaded the ladies, who went fanatically crazy, with two songs. After some jokes, he went serious and  pleaded to the audience to give our President, who has just been in office for a year, all the support that he needs. 

What a pinnacle ending of this years’ Phil. Independence Day picnic in Spaarnwoude. The crowd does not want to disperse yet. There was so much fun and they could not get enough of their idol Robin Padilla. It was almost 7:00 PM and we have to leave the area.

The Kalayaan Fiesta Foundation Netherlands (KFFN) has one again done a magnificent job organizing this Independence day picnic. The whole team of volunteers headed by Ms. Maricel Eleanor Manalo as president deserves a great commendation. To benefit this years’ celebration is the Maxam Foundation. This is a non-profit organization aimed at helping less fortunate students back home by providing them with their basic school necessities. This years’ KFFN main sponsors were Money Trans, Megaworld International, SUNRO, LDL Bulkhandling,  Asfalt Productie Amsterdam (APA) and  Ria Moneytransfer. Special thanks to Es Quisine by Irene Isquibel  Looze for our sumptuous lunch.

Once again…a salute to the KFFN organizers and members! And to all our Kababayans who joined us in this years’ Freedom day picnic - we are truly grateful of your presence.

In behalf of KFFN  I would like to say…..see you again next year !!!

Pictures courtesy of:  Kees Visser, Jose B. Villero, Mabel Regasa, Marilou Joson, Judith Ramirez van Lieshout , Anna Bracamonte, Jitty Vasquez de la Cruz and Photo Grid.

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