ALBANY, NY – Assemblymember Steven Raga, the first-ever Filipino American elected official in New York State, is thrilled to announce the resounding success of the historic inaugural 125th Philippine Independence Day Celebration held within the prestigious walls of the New York State Capitol in Albany.
On Thursday, June 1st, 2023, the historic event, which marked the first-ever Philippine Independence Day celebration at the New York State Capitol of Albany, attracted hundreds of Filipinos from all corners of New York State, transforming the Legislative Office Building into a vibrant Filipino festival.
Assemblymember Raga expressed the importance of the event, stating: “This landmark celebration serves as a testament to the growing presence and impact of the Filipino American community in New York State. We're not only celebrating our heritage but also our ongoing contributions to the cultural fabric of this great state. This is a proud moment for all Filipino and Filipino Americans in New York State, and we look forward to continuing to strengthen our community ties.”
Assemblymember Grace Lee, Co-Chair of the New York State Asian Pacific American Task Force, who joined the event, expressed her support and commitment to the Filipino American community: “It was an honor to join Assemblymember Steven Raga at the first-ever celebration of Philippine Independence Day held at the New York State Capitol in Albany. New York has been home to a vibrant Filipino community for over a century and now, under the leadership of Assemblymember Raga, they have strong representation at the state level. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to uplift the needs of the Filipino American community.”
Philippine Consul General Senen Mangalile echoed the significance of the event, stating: “Today we remember Filipino heroes who fought for liberty against our colonial masters, but we also celebrate our current crop of heroes—our nurses, accountants, engineers, entrepreneurs—who contribute positively to the fabric of New York society.”
Further emphasizing the unity and strength of the Filipino community, Atty. Sol Kapunan, Founding President of Kalayaan 1521 Council Inc, offered these inspiring words: “In unity there is strength. In coming together, we will go the distance and reach the summit, discover more things we can collectively do, and conquer greater heights. May we never lose our identity as we continue to show the world our capabilities. We found a home 8,500 miles away from home. Here, our Filipino Spirit will continue to live on!”
Renowned dancers and foreign dignitaries from the Philippines, alongside state-elected officials, including a representative from the office of U.S. Congressmember Paul Tonko, graced the occasion. Deputy Speaker of the New York State Assembly, Phil Ramos, also delivered a group introduction on behalf of Assemblymember Raga and escorted all guests into the Assembly Speaker’s Room.
The success of the event would not have been possible without the collaborative effort of the Philippine Consulate General of New York, and numerous other Filipino American groups from all over New York State. Their invaluable contributions underscore the spirit of unity and cooperation that is the hallmark of our community.
The celebratory program featured an array of performances highlighting the rich tapestry of Filipino culture, including:
- Master of Ceremonies: Emmy-award-winning Filipino American journalist Ernabel Demillo
- Singing of the American National Anthem: Star Spangled Banner by Amber Ortaliz Coronel
- Singing of the Philippine National Anthem: Lupang Hinirang by Deidre Levy
- Paypay De Manila by the Bayanihan Association of the Capital District
- Excerpts from Mindanao, Epics, Legends, and Myths by Kinding Sindaw
- Salakot by FUNRaisers of New York
- MassKara Festival Dance by Bacolod City MassKara Festival Dance Group
Each performance resonated with the vibrant Filipino spirit, with a standout performance by the renowned MassKara dancers from Bacolod City, Philippines, and the exceptional talents from both Upstate and Downstate New York.
In organizing this monumental event, Assemblymember Raga has catalyzed a new era of recognition and appreciation for Filipino culture and heritage in New York State. It is not just a celebration but a pledge of our commitment to continue contributing to the diverse cultural heritage of our state and nation.
About New York State Assemblymember Steven Raga
Assemblymember Steven Raga is the first Filipino American elected to any public office in New York State. Representing the 30th District in the New York State Assembly, which includes parts of the neighborhoods of Woodside, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Maspeth, Middle Village, and Astoria, he is committed to championing legislation that supports the well- being, growth, and prosperity of his constituents and all New Yorkers.