“Kasarinlan” Marks 125th Anniversary of Philippine Independence

by HFC Staff

The 125th anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence was marked with a re-enactment of the historic event on June 11 at the Filipino Community Center.

Titled “KASARINLAN: A Journey to Independence,” it was produced, written and directed by Dr. Raymund Liongson, a retired Asian/Philippine Studies professor from the University of Hawaii-Leeward Community College. Over 60 individuals, whose ages range from below 10 years old to over 70, composed the cast and talents of the re-enactment.

A community-driven presentation, Kasarinlan was in partnership with the Filipino Community Center and the Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu. A full-house show, over 300 attendees packed the FilCom Center’s ballroom.

The re-enactment featured Philippine heritage and history from pre-colonial times to the struggle for freedom under Spanish rule and the declaration of independence in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898.

Kasarinlan Scenes
The opening scene takes the audience to a fictional Lumaban ancestral home in Tondo, Manila. As a wall is demolished, an old chest containing memorabilia from the past is discovered.

A memoir – “Kasarinlan: Kasaysayan ng Kalayaan” (Independence: History of Freedom) written by a relative from a distant past (Ciriaco Dimalupig) brings back to life the traditions, struggles, and triumphs that were long buried in the valley of ignorance and oblivion.

Kasarinlan addressed basic questions in history such as: How was the Philippines prior to the Western colonial period? What was the condition of the Philippines during the Spanish colonial rule? How did Filipinos respond to their colonial subjugation? Why did we have a Rizal (critical reformers) and a Bonifacio (revolutionaries)? What led to the Proclamation of Philippine Independence? What is the relevance of June 12, 1898, to the present?

Some scenes were hard to watch, especially those that depicted the abuses committed against Filipinos who were then humiliatingly labeled as “Indios.”

“But we wanted to portray the colonial situation in a manner that explains why Filipinos eventually rose up arms to fight for their honor, dignity, and freedom,” says writer, director and producer Liongson.“We want to portray that prior to the arrival of the Western colonizers, the indigenous peoples across the Philippine archipelago already had established social systems, were trading with their neighboring islands, had developed a writing system, adopted functional customs, rituals, and traditions,” says Liongson.

“Also, the re-enactment constantly underscored the vital role of women both in the pre-colonial times and during the revolution. Much of our historical narratives are androcentric or male-centered. The truth is women played dynamic and important roles during those times,” added Liongson.

Speaking through the fictional character Ciriaco Dimalupig (played by Eric Barsatan), the purpose of the play was unmistakable:

“I am writing this memoir that my descendants will learn about the land where they first saw the light and the people that nurtured and fought for the liberty that they now enjoy. May it be that they won’t take for granted the land and the shores that they have inherited, or shamelessly render worthless the sacrifices we made, waged by no less than our blood, sweat, and tears.

“Some people will attempt to rewrite history for their own purpose – perhaps twist it, sanitize it, or maybe even completely deny the events that have taken place. Be not gullible; keep an open mind and always search and demand for the truth, for truth is the foundation of every virtue.”The re-enactment concluded with Ciriaco Dimalupig’s exhortation:

“It is now our responsibility to guard and preserve these treasured legacies – to never again allow darkness to rule us. The threats to our rights and liberty – they be domestic or foreign – continue to hover above us. Let us remain steadfast in keeping sacred our hard-fought freedom and independence.”

In his remarks, Philippine Consul General Emil Fernandez emphasized the importance of productions such as Kasarinlan to inform and educate the audience of the lessons of the Philippines’ past and the sacrifices its forebearers made for the freedom its people enjoy today.

Cast and Talents
The cast of Kasarinlan included volunteer members of various groups such as the Knights of Rizal; Hawaiian Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons; Alpha Phi Omega-Hawaii; University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Hawaii; BIBAK-Hawaii; and Dabawenyos Community Foundation.

The historical presentation also featured talents such as Mia Malit-Cruz, Jay Flores, Ayra Narciso, Rafael Velasco, Charo Feliciano, Josie and Virgil Sumait, Ramon Acob, Natilyn Rasalan, and the Linglingay Filipino Cultural Dance Troupe. A special number was also performed by Fil4Kids who sang “Sino ang Pilipino.”

Proclamation of Independence
A hundred and twenty-five years ago, the flag of the Philippines was unfurled, her anthem was first publicly played, and her independence from colonial Spain was proclaimed. The historic event was a culmination of years of struggle for liberty, national dignity, and renewal.

After numerous sporadic and provincial revolts and unsuccessful reform efforts across the country, the Filipinos eventually rallied behind a nationwide revolution that fought for separation from Spain. In 1892, the Katipunan (Kataastaasang Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan) was born.

Founded by Andres Bonifacio and inspired by the writings of Dr. Jose Rizal, the Katipunan aimed to dismantle the Spanish colonial regime and make the Philippines a free and independent country. Sprouting from the seeds of equality and liberty – irrigated by blood, sweat, and tears – this secret revolutionary society grew into a formidable guerilla group that defied colonial rule and impositions.

Kasarinlan was made possible with program funding from the State of Hawaii through the Filipino Community Center and the following sponsors: (Gold) First Hawaiian Bank; East West Marketing; and Aloha Tours and Travels; (Silver) Ashley’s Chair Covers; and (Bronze) R&M Reyes Enterprise, LLC.

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