Geneva  Independence Day
11 June 2014 - Filipino communities from across Switzerland celebrated the 116th anniversary of Philippine Independence last June 07 in Geneva. The event, which bannered the theme, “Pilipino ka, saan man, kailan man,” was a celebration of the Filipino heritage and tradition, as well as a reminder to Filipinos in Switzerland of their roots and their responsibilities toward their country.  The annual Independence Day celebrations in Switzerland are rotated in various cities. The celebrations in 2012 and 2013 were held in Berne and Zurich, respectively.

The celebration kicked off with a parade of various Filipino organizations across Switzerland and Liechtenstein, spearheaded by the three Philippine ambassadors based in Switzerland: Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Leslie J. Baja; Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) Office in Geneva Cecilia B. Rebong; and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Esteban B. Conejos, Jr. Around 30 organizations participated in the parade.

The programme started with a tableau depicting the various stages in Philippine history, showing the struggles of Filipinos from the oppression of various colonizers until the proclamation of Philippine independence. It was followed by a series of cultural performances showcasing the rich heritage and colourful traditions of the different groups of Filipinos from northern to southern Philippines.

The event was made more meaningful when officials from the Philippine Embassy in Berne and the two Philippine missions in Geneva participated in the program with their rendition of the song, “Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo.”

Ambassador Rebong, in her speech, reminded the Filipino community of their roots and their responsibilities to their country. She extolled the contributions of Filipinos overseas to the country’s development and encouraged those present to continue doing their share towards nation-building.

Ambassador Baja reminded those present of the double significance of the celebration. “Ang Geneva  Independence Day2pagdiriwang natin ngayong taon ay mas makahulagan dahil ipinagdiriwang din po natin sa araw na ito ang ika-19 anibersaryo ng Filipino Migrants’ Day,” said Ambassador Baja.

He reminded the Filipinos present of their responsibilities to the Philippines. “Bilang Pilipino, malaki po ang ating karapatan at responsibilidad na pangalagaan ang ating kalayaan at makamtan ang kaginhawahaan ng Pilipinas. Kasama po rito ang ating responsibilidad na tumulong sa pag-unlad ng ating bayan at bumoto ng mga nararapat na opisyal na mamumuno sa ating bayan.”

With the ongoing registration for overseas voting, the Philippine Embassy in Berne and the Consulate General in Geneva took advantage of the occasion and conducted registration for overseas voters. It was the first time said activity coincided with the Philippine Independence Day celebration.

The event, which was attended by close to a thousand Filipinos from Switzerland and Liechtenstein, provided an opportunity for Filipinos to see old friends, meet new ones, and come together in the spirit of independence and love of country, and renewal of their commitment to being a Filipino. It was also an opportune moment to showcase the rich Philippine traditions to the Swiss people present during the occasion. END