PH Independence Day parade held in Oslo

by Macel Ingles, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Jun 05 2012 11:36 AM | Updated as of Jun 06 2012 12:51 AM

OSLO - Around 600 Pinoys marched on Oslo's streets last Saturday (June 2) to mark the Philippine Independence day.

Members from different organizations under Filcom Norway, one of the major Filipino umbrella organizations in the country, gathered at the Lille Grensen at Karl Johan street for the parade. Participants wore striking Filipiniana attires and carried balloons in national colors, red, blue and white. Some Norwegian friends and family members also came in the traditional Filipino male attire, the Barong Tagalog.

Norwegians Knut Henry Pettersen and Geir Vigdal joined their Filipino spouses in celebrating Philippine Independence day at St. Hanshaugen park in Oslo

Those who took part in the parade include Philippine Ambassador to Norway, H.E. Bayani Mercado and his staff, officers from Filcom Norway, Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Charismatic Community, Larvik Filippinsk Dansegruppe, Hiligaynon Association of Norway, ASOR, Jesus Is Lord Norway Chapter, Mekeni Norway, Philippine Women's Organization, Couples for Christ, and the Filipino Christian Church.

For the very first time, Filipinos from outside Oslo, upon invitation of Filcom Norway, came to the capital to take part in this year's celebration including those from Moss and Larvik, cities from Eastern Norway and even some came all the way from Bodo, a city in Northern Norway.

The parade participants caught the attention of Oslo locals and foreign tourists alike as they walked down the city's main tourist street cheering and waving Filipino flags all the way to the St. Hanshaugen Park where a barrio fiesta was held.

Addressing the Filipinos at the St. Hanshaugen fiesta celebration, Ambassador Mercado read a message from President Benigno Aquino III and towards the end of his speech issued a personal appeal to the Filipino community in Norway.

“Just as our ancestors are able to unite us as one nation under one flag and declare it free and independent, let us honor their sacrifices and accomplishments by coming together as a community regardless of individual differences, ambitions and concerns,” Mercado told the crowd.

“Together, we can do much more. United, we can achieve greater things, even here in Norway. Thus, it is my hope that in the very near future the Filipino community here in Oslo will only have one united Independence day celebration,” he added.

The call for unity from the Ambassador stemmed from the decision of the two major Filipino umbrella organizations in Norway to hold two separate celebrations on different dates of the country's Independence Day.

Another group, the New Filipino Working Group (NFWG) will be holding a separate Philippine Independence Day celebration next Saturday, June 9 at St. Hanshaugen park with a similar fiesta theme and a Search for Bb. Kalayaan 2012.

Asked to comment on the call for unity from the embassy, Filcom officer Alex Bobadilla said that his organization is "open" to communicate with the other group.

He seemed happy with the massive turnout of participants saying Filcom is “overwhelmed sa dami ng tao” especially that Filipinos came all the way from other parts of Norway.

Norwegians Knut Henry Pettersen and Geir Vigdal, married to their respective Filipino spouses, Jean and Maria who are also sisters, joined this year's celebration of the Philippine national day.

They told ABS-CBN Europe that they are happy to see such celebrations in Norway and understand why Pinoys want to celebrate their national day.

“It is just like 17th of May for you, Filipinos. So, I like it,” Pettersen told this reporter, referring to the Constitution day of Norway, regarded as the country's national day.

“It's very nice to be here,” beams Geir Vigdal and said he likes that “the people (who came to the fiesta) are very happy.”

Filipinos in Oslo hold annual celebration of the country's Independence day. Last year, after a split from the Filipino Working Group, Filcom Norway and NFWG decided to hold separate celebrations of the same event to the dismay and confusion of Filipinos in the Norwegian capital.