A sense of celebration and anticipation filled the Morden Access Event Centre Sunday night, as families took their places at tables around an open dance floor.  Approximately 400 people gathered for the Philippine Independence Celebration.  

A Morden resident since 2008 and organizer of the first-time event, Jewel White described the evening. 

"We celebrated the Independence Day by having multicultural dances, showcasing different dances that were traditionally performed by our ancestors, and then we also had bands playing original Filipino music. There might be some English in there, but it's mostly Tagalog. We had some games as well, it's a tradition for Filipino parties, there is always games for kids, for sure. There was a lot of food." 

Several different dishes to choose from, including dessert, were served to those in attendance while games with prizes entertained all ages. 

White went on to tell a bit of the history of independence in the Philippines. 

"Spain colonized the country for 350 years, during the latter part of the 20th century, then the Americans basically took over, but we were free from Spain. Then, we were under the colonization of America for 10 years, that's a different Independence Day actually.  In the Philippines, we have two Independence days; The Independence Day from Spain and Independence Day from US. So, the Spain is the June 12th and Independence from USA is celebrated on the 4th of July." 

In a time when countries around the world are fighting for their own independence, White shared the importance of a country's freedom. 

"To be a country on our own is very important for us, especially coming out of being colonized for almost 400 years. So, to be able to be a Republic and function as your own without being under anyone rule. That's very important for us. We're able to express our own religion or thoughts. So, it is very important." 

White went on to explain why she wanted to see this event take place in her home community of Morden, now the Filipino population is growing rapidly. 

"It is important to know the history of that generation. So nowadays, we would not forget, you can't just give up right away. You can't give up your independence right away because we have heroes that fought there and offered their lives just to get this freedom we are experiencing right now. So, I felt like we had to tell the story, not just for the local people, we had to tell the story for the younger generation of Filipinos who are right here in Canada, now. They should remember. They should never forget their independence story."