Culture & Art

June 9, 2015

117th Philippine Independence Day Parade Disappoints Many

Article, Photos and Video: Len Rapoport

My 2nd Year At This Parade

In the past, I have covered a number parades, from the Persian Day Parade, Israeli Day Parade, Dance Parade, and even the Easter Bonnet Parade and last year we covered the  116th Philippine Independence Day Parade.  This parade is supposed to celebrate the Philippine people s independence from Spanish rule on June 12, 1898 .

Although I didn’t have much time to cover the entire parade last year due to a conflict covering the Israeli Day Parade uptown that same day, we decided to cover this years events from the start to the end. After the parade we planned to go to 23rd Street the end of the parade route and cover the stage events and street fair there.

Reid-1I brought my grandson Reid with us this year and at 4 years old we thought he would enjoy the parade and festivities too.  We took a spot on the corner of 34th Street and Madison Ave. thinking this would be a good place to get the video and photos we needed, but noticed not many spectators on the streets.  No flag waving no crowds cheering, it was empty.  I woman came over to us to find out what was going on.

We told her it was the Philippine Day Parade and she told us she was Filipino and lived down the street and didn’t know there was a parade.  This should have been the tip of to us that this was not going to be a good day.  I had promised Reid a flag, but unlike many of the other parades there weren’t any to be had.

The PIDCI Organization

pidci-poster-SBefore I get to the parade and days events, I wanted to give you some background on the organization that runs the event.

PIDCI, the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. As you know, PIDCI is the organization of organizations that plans, organizes, produces, executes, manages, directs and presents the annual commemoration of Philippine Independence to the Filipino and Filipino-American and the mainstream communities in the Northeastern United States.

The parade is one of the many events this non-profit organization runs which includes a number of beauty contests including the Mrs. Kalayaan Pageant and Gala, the Diwa ng Kalayaan (Spirit of Independence) Coronation Pageant and Gala, and the Independence Day, which includes the all-day Street Fair and the afternoon Cultural Festival.

From their application form for parade participation:

The Philippines is considered as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. The onslaught of natural calamities that struck the Philippines in the past years seriously reflects the need to preserve our precious natural resources and secure the future of the next generation of Filipinos. With impacts ranging from extreme weather events and periodic inundation to droughts and food scarcity, climate change has been a constant reality that many Filipinos have had to face.

It is imperative that we seriously heed the call to protect our environment and curb the threats of climate change. Together with the world, let us showcase the Filipino spirit of solidarity, hope and strength by taking on an active role in promoting and raising awareness in environment protection. As we celebrate the 117th anniversary of Philippine Independence, let us do our part – the future is in your hands. “Pangalagaan ang Kalikasan Para Sa Ating Kinabukasan.”

Controversy and Fees Discourage Parade Participants and Spectators

Recently we noticed a comment on our 116th Parade video on YouTube and decided to do some research.  The claim made was that this organization had failed to file necessary documents and yearly fees of $150.  Here is the quote, our source Wikopeadia….

The Office of the Attorney General of the State of New York (OAG), cancelled the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc.’s (PIDCI) registration to solicit contributions. The OAG’s Charities Bureau Registry found that PIDCI had been delinquent in filing annual financial reports for 2003, 2004, and 2005, and gave PIDCI until May 12, 2006 to re-register, file all delinquent reports, pay delinquent fees, and remit a re-registration fee of $150. 

The poster continued with accusations that the event should be banned and that “this organization never donated money to any disasters in the Philippines” and further claimed “they take advantage by charging ridiculous prices to vendors over $1,200 for a table 4″x6″ for 1 day event.  She furthermore states that in 2015 any group had to pay a fee to join the parade.  This is supposed to be a celebration of the Independence of the Philippines by enjoying their  freedom.  We need to know where the money goes for the past 5 years.”

We usually don’t pay much attention to these posts, and certainly can’t confirm her accusations, but I was able to confirm the costs to participate in this parade and have attached their registration form where you can see the following fee structure:

Marchers ONLY, approximate # of Marchers ______. (If less than 10, group will be combined with others). ?Marchers With a Float or Open-Top Car (Convertibles), approximate # of Marchers ______.

?With Standard Float (PIDCI-supplied), Fee: $2,500, ?With Special Float (NOT PIDCI-supplied), Fee: $500

?With Open-Top Car (Convertible), Fee: $300 for Community Organization.

?With Open-Top Car (Convertible), Fee: $500 for Private or Business Entity.

NOTE: Non-Convertible Cars, Van, SUV, Trucks, Pick-Up, Motorcycles, 3 or 4-Wheelers are NOT allowed.

Description of Group’s Attire/Theme (Please attach a separate sheet if you need more space or for any additional remarks) _____________________________________________________________________________________

Requested Donations from all participants (including PIDCI Member Organizations): $40

See the complete application form. PIDCI+2015+Parade+Application+Form

Now, I have no idea how these parades operate or get funded. I know from other parades I have covered they have sponsors that pick up many if not most of the costs.

It is understandable why this parade lacks the fun and excitement of other cultural parades, in my opinion many groups and organizations that are donating their time and effort to be in a parade should not have to pay to be there.  For an individual participant to have to pay $40 for marching is well, not really a good idea.

Not knowing how other cultural parades operate behind the scenes I can’t say if this is the right or wrong way or comment on the accusation of impropriety and will leave this up to our readers to find out the truth.  We just wanted to be able to report the information we were able to obtain regarding this claim.

In this case, I can’t be certain, but from what I saw, there was a definite drop in attendance at the 2015 parade compared to last years and the groups in the parade were much fewer in numbers as you can see in our video and photos.  Marchers seemed to just take a stroll down Madison Ave., many dressed in street clothing and others that were a group, had as little as 5-10 people in their group vs. last years which might have been lots more.

See last years video and this year to see a very big difference.  From my standpoint trying to capture some exciting and interesting footage, I had a hard time.  Editing this video was a chore and I have decided to keep it short because there is not much content of real interest.

116th Philippine Independence Day Parade Slide Show 

116th Philippine Independence Day Parade 2014 – Video

The Parade & Video

NYC Philipinne Independence Day Parade 2015 Disappoints from lenrapp on Vimeo.

Unfortunately this was a lack lustre parade that didn’t seem organized at all.  It consisted of a number of seniors and organizations walking down the street in no particular order.  A number of women dressed in their finest dresses all with banners draped across their bodies and crowns on their heads and some on floats seemed to be past and some present pageant contestants or winners, something that the Filipino community seems to love based on the number we saw at the parade.

The parade had very little excitement, not much music at all, marching bands, a couple of groups doing native dances on every other block, so I wasn’t able to catch some of that action either.  It was quite boring to say the least as you will see in our video.  All parades have an organizer that will set the pace of the parade and start each group marching.  At this parade there were delays of a number of minutes between the groups or floats participating.

Some groups were a full block behind the others, I have cut much of this out of the video or you would never watch it at all.  So instead of the parade taking an hour, it took two hours.  They probably did this because this year they had less participation in the parade due to the fees that they had to spread what they did have out to fill the time slot allocated.

We stayed as long as we could, but there was really not much to shoot so we left a few minutes early to head downtown hoping to capture some decent footage at the stage show as we did last year.

I just couldn’t get over the fact that at so many other parades I have covered the streets were filled with cheering throngs of spectators and at this parade, there were no cheering crowds of people as would be expected at a cultural parade. No one waving flags, very few children in the parade or at the parade.   Last year we didn’t have much time at the end of the day, but we planned to spend more time this year, but we expected too much and again were disappointed when we got to 23rd Street.

The Stage Show

I attempted to gain access to the stage area so I could record some of the performers, but was denied access by their security even though the Police allowed me through the barricade.

Apparently I needed to have been cleared by the organization and wear their Press ID to get close to the stage.  Something I never encountered previously at this or other parades.  I did have my New York Police Department Press ID around my neck and even tried to show the video we did last year on my iPad, but nothing seemed to work and they couldn’t or didn’t want to find someone to approve my access.

As you can see here, there was only a narrow area to view the stage and it was so deep with shoulder to shoulder people you couldn't move. Area on the left was left empty, not quite sure why.

As you can see here, there was only a narrow area to view the stage and it was so deep with shoulder to shoulder people you couldn’t move. Area on the left was left empty, not quite sure why.

The stage and performance area was not planned properly.  There was a large stage at the 23rd Street side of the park that had a narrow area with police barricades and a crowd of hundreds of people, shoulder to shoulder huddled between the metal barriers.  All trying to see and enjoy the entertainment, that of course we couldn’t cover because they wouldn’t allow us access.  I was looking for last years PR person Oliver Oliveros but was told by security he didn’t know who he was.  Apparently their PR person was not available to grant me access.

I can only assume major media outlets did not cover this event, I couldn’t see any other than native Filipino’s with cameras shooting or getting in the way as I attempted to capture my images and videos.  At least they were not allowed on Madison Avenue and had to stay behind police barricades, I did not.  Each year I get authorized by NYPD to obtain a police press ID.  I must qualify with my works in order to prove I am a legitimate member of the working press.  This of course is part of our cities strict security system and keeps those that need to cover these events able to do so properly.

The Street Fair

Frustrated, I decided to walk the streets and see some of the vendors at the event, but as you can see in this and other photos, that was literally impossible.  It would have been wonderful to take some footage of the people serving the food, eating the Filipino specialties and maybe get some on camera to add to what was going to be a boring parade video.  However that didn’t go well either.

As you can see from this photo, the street was narrow, booths on both side taking up much of the free space, so attendees had no room to move.

As you can see from this photo, the street was narrow, booths on both side taking up much of the free space, so attendees had no room to move.

They set up the vendors on Madison Ave. that borders on Madison Square Park. From 26th St. to 23rd St. Madison Avenue narrows down and setting up booths on both sides of this narrow street left very little room for people to walk through the street.  If there was a dangerous event, I can’t imagine how people would escape that street.

If in fact, the vendors paid $1200 for a day at this street fair, I can only imagine their disappointment.  We turned back because with a small child and my equipment we simply didn’t want to get caught in this crowd and not have a way out.

flatiron building

Flatiron Building

Filipino Athletes and Celebrities Last Year

L to R: Anna Julaton, Michelle Bumgarner, Michael Christian Marinez and Oliver Oliveros

L to R: Anna Julaton, Michelle Bumgarner, Michael Christian Marinez and Oliver Oliveros

Last year we had an opportunity to see leading Filipino American athletes and celebrities including: Anna Marie “The Hurricane” Julaton (Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts), Michele Bumgarner (Mazda Road to Indy driver), and Sochi Olympic figure skater Michael Christian Martinez.

We did see Michael Martinez in one of the floats at the parade, but the others were absent this year.

We also didn’t see Filipina Megan Young the 2013 Miss World winner but again, we didn’t stay at the parade to the end, so we are not even sure she attended this year.

Of course no cultural parade would be complete without an appearance by Congressman Chuck Schumer. On the few cultural parades I have covered Congressman Schumer seems to always be one of the VIP guests.

A Challenging Day

As I have stated earlier in this article, I didn’t stay to the end of this parade, but covered 95% of it.  We did spend some time in the beautiful Madison Square Park that also had a nice children’s playground where my grandson had a blast and a little doggie park where we were able to watch all the doggies play.  Than of course down to Chinatown where we enjoyed some great Chinese food and back home to deliver Reid to my son and his wife.  What made our day was being with our grandson and the beautiful weather and day in New York.

So we will no longer cover this event again.  It is not one of the exciting events that we want to cover in New York City and not one that seems to be organized as well as the others.  I would normally not bother to publish an article like this one, but I was so disappointed in this days events that I decided to spend the time to edit the video I shot and let our readers understand that all parades are not created equal.  If you are Filipino and felt bad you couldn’t make it to the parade, don’t be, you didn’t miss much.

Reid - Get To Meet A Real Princess

My grandson Reid got to meet a Real Princess. He was very happy and had waved to all of them at the Parade with that special wave I taught him, the parade wave.


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About the Author

Len Rapoport
Len Rapoport
IPA Editor-In-Chief, ID: 1000 • I am an internationally published photographer and the founder of International Press Association. As president and editor-in-chief, my duties at IPA are extensive. For over 40 years I have written articles, had my photos published in millions of publications, record album covers, books, and in the digital media. I was senior marketing and sales executive for major corporations, including my own and as a corporate communications consultant. I have taught photography and formed IPA 20 years ago. I currently work from my home office and continue to actively cover media events in addition to all of my other IPA and IMPress responsibilities.



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