Americas News

Pista sa Nayon in Vallejo kicks off PHL Independence Day rites in Bay Area

By Cesar Antonio Nucum Jr.

VALLEJO, California — A fitting start to the month leading to the celebration of the 126th year of Philippine Independence was what the “Pista sa Nayon” in the City of Vallejo in California accomplished over the  weekend.

Billed as an event for colorful festivities and heartwarming moments, the 38th Vallejo Pista sa Nayon lived up to expectations as dazzling performances to mouthwatering culinary delights, told a story of unity, joy, and cultural pride that surely served as a colorful and meaningful start in also observing rich heritage and diverse community spirit of Vallejo.

Showcased were the usual highlights of Pista Sa Nayon and more through curated collection of images, featuring the beauty of Filipino traditions and the warmth of community bonds that saw family members, relatives, friends and acquaintances cherished memories, celebrated diversity, and honored the spirit of Vallejo Pista Sa Nayon. The featured display of arts (dances, music, ancient handwriting Baybayin), crafts, activities (like martial arts, tattooing, baybayin and even actual history educational lessons from the Vallejo Filipino elders holding the torch for Filipino American National Historical Society, among others) and not least of all the sumptuous offering of Filipino culinary dishes that attracted not just Filipinos but also non-Filipino friends and supporters as well.

On the third straight year, Pista sa Nayon was held at the Mare Island shipyard which shares a long, storied relationship with the Philippines and Filipino-Americans when in 1898, the U.S. Navy deployed ships from Mare Island to fight in the Battle of Manila Bay, eventually leading to the Philippines’ declaration of independence from Spain in June of that year. Many Filipinos would later be stationed at Mare Island before laying down roots in Vallejo by buying homes, raising families and starting businesses.

Vallejo City Mayor Robert McConnell, Vice Mayor Mina Loera-Diaz and the rest of the Vallejo City Council welcomed the dignitaries, guests and all participants to Mare Island while the first Filipino woman elected to office City Council Member Rozzana Verder-Aliga highlighted the resolution passed by the council in declaring the whole month of June 2024 as Philippine Cultural Month adding ” we encourage our diverse community to explore Filipino culture and appreciate Filipino heritage that help make our city and our county great.”

Among the reasons for the resolution cited by Aliga were:

1. Filipino Americans comprise 12% or 52,000 of Solano County’s population, 20% or 25,000 of the City of Vallejo population;

2. In 1898, the U.S. Navy ships sailed from Mare Island Naval Shipyard to the Philippines directly contributing to the United States victory over Spain which led to the Philippines declaration of Independence on June 12, 1898; 

3. The 78th anniversary of Philippine Independence  is commemorated on July 4, 1946; and

4. Filipino Americans greatly contributed to various social, religious, and economic well-being as well as political landscape with the elections  to the city council and schoolboard.

In a message read by Consul Rowena Pangilinan-Daquipil, the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco through Consul General Neil Francis Ferrer, stated that  126 years on (since the proclamation in 1898), “we continue to bear the lessons of the past as we build a prosperous, peaceful, and equitable future for our beloved homeland, which is encapsulated in the theme of the 2024 Independence Day festivities in the Philippines: “Kalayaan. Kinabukasan. Kasaysayan.” or “Freedom. Future. History.”

“Philippine Independence Day is a yearly reminder of the centuries-long struggle that the Filipino people have endured and fought for freedom and democracy. Following the example of our heroes, may you inspire Filipinos and Filipino Americans towards cooperation and unity within the community, and in endeavors that will elevate the profile of the Philippines and of the Filipino people in the United States. By working towards our goals and aspirations for our community and our home country, we can build and pass on a New Philippines or Bagong Pilipinas to future generations of Filipinos,” Ferrer told the  FilAms.

Former Mayor Bob Sampayan whose parents are from Binalonan Pangasinan confirmed that over 25% of Vallejo’s local population are Filipinos “so we have a large voting bloc. Filipinos are very active in this community as you can see today and we are also very involved in politics. So it is really good to have the Pinoys involved in our community. Since we have a lot to say so.”

“It is extremely important to have Filipino representation so that our voices can be heard not just the other races. And so it a very important thing to be represented not only in the state, county, and local. Get involved is my advice to those who were born in the U.S. but do not know much about Filipino culture and heritage. Learn about your heritage because somebody has got to carry on after we are gone. You are our future,” Sampayan advised the youth.

For his part, California Senate hopeful Christopher Cabaldon shared that he is “super excited we are about to elect to be the first Senator from Filipino American community of California in the history of the State.”

“It is great to be here celebrating our culture, our political empowerment, our economic prosperity, and looking forward to serving the communities of Vallejo, Fairfield, Suisun City and Filipinos from California in the coming years,” Cabaldon shared. “Thanks for coming out here and supporting the FilAm community.”

Also seen at the festivities were California Forever’s CEO Jan Sramek and his wife, Naytri Sramek, who joined the vibrant festivities at Vallejo Pistahan, celebrating Philippine Independence Day on June 12. Their presence, alongside the California Forever team, underscored their commitment to recognizing and supporting the Filipino American community in Solano County and across the entire state of California.

As this will just jumpstart the series of Philippine Independence celebrations across the country, other cities scheduled to have flag-raising in their cities are:

1. Raising of the Philippine flag at San Francisco City Hall before noon of June 12, 2024 the day of Independence itself with Mayor London Breed expected to lead the event with Philippine Consul-General to San Francisco Neil Frank Ferrer; and

2. 10th Anniversary of the Philippine Flag Raising also before noon on June 14th, 2024 at City of Daly City Hall in partnership with the Pilipino Bayanihan Resource Center. The momentous event  will be led by Daly City Mayor Juslyn Manalo, Vice Mayor Rod Daus-Magbual, other members of the City Council and officers of the city and community members, friends and supporters.

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