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Independence Day celebration offers modern version of Filipino tradition – News – – Stockton, CA

Categories: News

Women perform a traditional Filipino courtship dance Saturday during a Philippine Independence Day celebration at Weber Point Events Center in Stockton. JASON ANDERSON/THE RECORD

Source: Independence Day celebration offers modern version of Filipino tradition – News – – Stockton, CA

By Jason Anderson
Record Staff Writer
Posted Jun. 11, 2016 at 6:00 PM
Updated Jun 11, 2016 at 6:40 PM


STOCKTON — The unmistakable smell of lumpia filled the air on the east side of the Weber Point Events Center while the sound of traditional Filipino music called from the west side Saturday as hundreds gathered to celebrate Philippine Independence Day.

The event was held to commemorate the Philippine declaration of independence from Spain on June 12, 1898. It was organized by the Philippine Independence Day Committee and presented by H.O.P.E (Helping Other People to Expand) and the City of Stockton.

Philippine Independence Day celebrations have been held at least two other times in Stockton over the past decade or so, but organizers hope to make it an annual event that is free to the public.

“It’s a way of commemorating the idea of freedom and a way for Filipinos to come together to celebrate this, but it’s also open to everyone to come here and join us,” said Gloria Nomura, a member of the Philippine Independence Day Committee. “It’s an opportunity for us to share our culture and our legacy with the city of Stockton.”

Nomura, a former vice mayor of Stockton, explained that the city has been home to Filipino people for more than a century, adding that Filipinos have a rich cultural history here.

“Stockton was the biggest center of Filipinos in the United States at one time,” she said. “It is not now, but it was, and there are still a lot of Filipinos in this area. When you look at San Joaquin County and Stanislaus County, we still have one of the largest groups of Filipinos.”

The Filipino American National Historical Society Museum, which will open Oct. 8 at 337 E. Weber Ave. in Stockton, set up a table to display old documents and photographs of the some of the first Filipinos to come to the United States early in the 20th century.

“The museum will be all about the Filipinos who came here way before us, how their lives were during that time, how they survived and what kind of work they did,” Connie Ruelos said.

In addition to food, music and dancing, the event included a fashion show and an Eskrima demonstration. Eskrima, the national sport and martial art of the Philippines, emphasizes weapon-based fighting with sticks, knives and other bladed objects.

The fashion show featured traditional Filipino clothing and costumes. Many of the women wore long, flowing dresses with colorful fabrics and sequins.

“This is about all our influences, from Spain and our very own indigenous culture to how it has modernized itself through the centuries,” said Elena Mangahas, a member of the Little Manila Foundation in Stockton. “We are bringing what is traditional into a more modern version and yet it is still a continuance of our tradition, whether it’s in clothing, our way of life, the food we eat, the way we get together to celebrate family and community, and the way we share our culture with everybody else.”

— Contact reporter Jason Anderson at (209) 546-8279 or Follow him at and on Twitter @Stockton911.