The Philippine Independence Day Parade is a celebration for the Filipino American community in the Northeast United States, home to more than half a million Filipinos. Its main purpose is to create awareness of Philippine culture and to raise funds for charity projects in the USA and the Philippines.
Philippine Independence, as a celebration in America, is largely an invention of the last decade—rather than having distinct cultural significance, the event is instead manufactured as a cultural awareness campaign.
Earlier generations of Filipino immigrants did not celebrate Philippine Independence in significant ways. Philippine Independence is widely celebrated among Filipinos in the United States and is now a major event for many Filipino Americans to rekindle their roots and heritage. The largest among Philippine Independence celebrations in the United States takes place in New York City every first Sunday of June.
Together with the Filipino American community, the Philippine Consulate General in New York created the Philippine Independence Day Committee (PIDC) to commemorate the birth of Philippine Independence.
Established in 1990 during Consul General Hermenegildo Garcia's term, PIDC is an ad hoc committee with a life cycle of one year. All consuls general would later become honorary overall chairperson. The position of overall chairperson is elected every year. The winner in the election will then appoint the rest of her/his executive committee.
At first, the theme of each year's celebration is handed down from the government in Manila. Later on, the overall chairperson chooses the theme for her/his term. The coat of arms of the Republic of the Philippines is the centerpiece of the PIDC logo and PIDC's official address is that of the Philippine Consulate in New York. Checks payable to PIDC are mailed to and received by the Philippine Consulate and handed over to PIDC. All PIDC meetings, with rare exceptions, are conducted at the Consulate.
The Philippine Independence Day celebration in Northeast U.S.A. includes not only New York but also the twelve states under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Consulate General in New York, namely, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. Depending on the theme each year, the overall chairperson may expand and invite other areas to participate in PIDC's many activities.
Traditionally held along Manhattan's Madison Avenue from 23rd to 40th Streets, the culmination of the preparation, the Grand Parade, Street Fair and Cultural Show, held on the first Sunday in June each year is the biggest celebration of Philippine Independence outside the Philippines. The festivities include the Diwa ng Kalayaan (Spirit of Freedom, a beauty and talent contest), Youth Festival, Independence Ball, Consul General Night, Grand Marshal Night, other fund raising activities, special cultural presentations and other events that may be initiated by the overall chairperson.
The Philippine Consulate extends its support and guidance to the PIDC from inception to culmination of the annual event. It begins with the sending of invitations to community leaders to a general meeting, election of overall chairperson, and in the planning and execution of activities up to Appreciation Night where the Consul General awards certificates of appreciation to PIDC officers and members.
Since 1993, there were calls for incorporation of PIDC. On September 8, 2001, with the election of the overall chairperson, the members of the Filipino American community were also given the chance to cast their vote on the incorporation of PIDC. Results showed that majority of Filipino Americans are in favor of incorporating PIDC. With paperwork and processing, an incorporated PIDC will take effect in 2003. Hence, 2003 was PIDC's last year under the auspices of the Consulate General of the Philippines, New York.