ON June 11, 2023, the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC celebrated the 125th Philippine Independence Day with the Filipino community in Norfolk, Virginia.
Organized by the Norfolk Sister City Association Cagayan de Oro Chapter led by Raylene Ann Rodrigo-Baumgart, the event was a celebration of Philippine multiculturalism through dance and song performances, a contest of Filipino ethnic costumes, food fair, and a free eye and ear clinic.
Consul General Iric Cruz Arribas thanked the organizers, sponsors, participating Filipino organizations, vendors and the Filipino communities of the Hampton Roads region for their efforts to make the event possible.
“Today, we are celebrating unity in diversity. We Filipinos belong to such a colorful and unique society with so much variety evident in our languages, food and local customs, music and religions.
That diversity makes it more fun in the Philippines and makes us Filipinos one of the happiest people in the world,” Arribas said in his opening remarks.
Attending the Filipino community gathering were Congressman Robert “Bobby“ Cortez Scott, U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 3rd congressional district, the first Filipino American voting member of Congress, and Councilwoman Andria McClellan.
The majority of the estimated 45,000 Filipino-Americans living in the Hamptons Road region can trace their lineage to a Filipino relative who served in the U.S. Navy.
Norfolk City hosts the largest naval complex in the world. It also has a sister city agreement with the port city of Cagayan de Or of Northern Mindanao in the Philippines.