MANILA — President Benigno S. Aquino III on Sunday led the nationwide celebration of the 118th Anniversary of the Philippine Independence, his last as leader of the country.
Aquino, who is set to step down as President on June 30, was given military honors highlighted by 21-gun salute upon his arrival in front of the monument of Dr. Jose Rizal at the Rizal Park here.
The President later joined Vice President Jejomar Binay, Manila mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada, National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) chairperson Ma. Serena Diokno and his Cabinet members to lead the flag-raising ceremony.
Diokno and National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin assisted President Aquino in the wreath-laying rite in front of the 42-foot Rizal monument.
The celebration at the Rizal Park was capped by traditional flyby showcasing the new air assets acquired through the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Simultaneous commemorative rites were held in key cities nationwide, including Kawit in Cavite, Malolos in Bulacan, Angeles in Pampanga, Davao City, Quezon City, Cebu City, and several other parts of Metro Manila.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales was guest of honor at the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit while Senator Cynthia Villar and Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno led the celebrations at the Barasoin Church in Malolos and Quezon City, respectively.
From Rizal Park, President Aquino proceeded at the NHCP ground to lead launching of a book entitled: “A Sense of the Nation: The Birth Right of Rizal, Bonifacio and Mabini.”
The book contains the life stories and sacrifices of the country’s three heroes: Rizal, Andres Bonifacio and Apolinario Mabini.
The celebration of the Philippines’ independence was also highlighted by various services to the public like exhibits, skills demonstrations and nationwide trade fairs which offered some 15,000 foreign and 7,000 local jobs opportunities.
The Department of Transportation has also offered Metro Rail and Transit and Light Rail Transit free rides from 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. while the Metro Manila Development Authority also offered free Pasig River Ferry Rides from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The President then held the traditional Vin d’ Honneur (wine reception) for the members of the Diplomatic Corps at the Malacanang Palace.
It is where the President normally offers a toast to foreign dignitaries and government officials present wishing them and the country a good year.
The Philippines declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898. Jelly Musico/PNA/northboundasia.com