Fragments: First Philippine National Day in Chile
by Rodolfo A. Arizala
After I have established the first resident embassy of the Philippines in Santiago in August 1981, the following year (June 1982), in preparation for the celebration of the 84th anniversary of the Proclamation of our Independence, we needed a guest list for the traditional reception. There was no problem with respect to the list of heads of foreign diplomatic /consular missions in Chile to be invited as well as to the list of the members of the Chilean cabinet members and other officials of the government. The Office of Protocol of the Chilean foreign ministry provided me with such lists. However, being a recently established embassy in Santiago, Chile, we have a problem as to the list of guests to be invited from the business, academic and cultural sectors of Chile.
How Problem of Guest List was Solved.
One day while I was having coffee at a Coffee Shop near Hotel Carrera, I met a Filipina named Evelyn from Manila, married to an Australian diplomat in Chile, Second Secretary Bruce Cowled. The couple was kind enough to lend me the Australian Embassy guest lists for their national day. After the addition of the guest list from the business, academic and cultural sectors of Chile, we were ready to send invitation cards for the Philippine national day 84th Anniversary in Santiago.
Philippine National Day Celebration
Because in 1982, June 12 falls on a Saturday, we decided to hold the Philippine National Day reception on Friday, the 11th of June.
At 12:30 p.m. in celebration of the 84th Anniversary of the Proclamation of our Independence the theme of which this year is “Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran” (Movement for Livelihood and Progress), in my capacity as Charge d’Affaires, a.i., on behalf of the Philippine Embassy, we hosted a “Vino de Honor” at Sheraton-San Cristobal Hotel. High-ranking government officials led by the Chilean Undersecretary of Foreign Manistry, Col. Ernesto Videla, Chilean foreign ministry Chief of Protocol Hernan Sanchez, cabinet members as well as members of the foreign diplomatic corps in Chile attended our National Day reception. Also, people from the Chilean business sectors, academe and cultural groups and the media attended. Of course, the members of the Filipino Community in Chile mostly religious sisters and priests were also present plus Chileans who were former residents in Manila or have been to the Philippines. Filipina ladies married to foreigners residing in Chile were likewise present with their respective husbands. The reception ended at 2:30 p.m.
On 12 June 1982, as part of the celebration of Philippine National Day Anniversary in Chile, at 10:00 a.m., Neneto, the Embassy staff members, friends and I went to Plaza Bulnes opposite La Moneda Palace where the monument of Chile’s national hero, Gen. Bernardo O’Higgins is located to lay wreath or make floral offering at the foot of the monument of Gen. O’Higgins. We decided to do such act as homage to the libertarian values which animate both countries -
. At exactly 11:00 a.m. we all stood at attention in front of the monument of Gen. Bernardo O’Higgins some 15 meters away for the flag ceremony. First, the Chilean national flag was hoisted at a flag pole on the right side of the monument while the Chilean national anthem was being played. This was followed by the hoisting of the Philippine national flag at a flag pole on the left side of the monument as the Philippine national anthem was played by the military band.
After hoisting of the two flags by the honor guards, a martial music was played by the military band. I walked toward the monument while two soldiers carried our floral offering up to the foot of the monument. Once the floral offering was laid at the foot of the monument, a bugle sounded. We stood at attention facing the floral offering. When the sound of the bugle ended, the Commandant approached me and said: ‘Sir, the ceremony is over.” I said “Thank you” and shook hands with him. The members of the embassy staff, the Filipino community, Neneto and I bade goodbye to the military officers and foreign ministry protocol officers. A huge crowd of people, mostly passers-by had gathered and witnessed the ceremony.
From the monument of Gen. Bernardo O’Higgins, we all went to a church - “Iglesia de la Congregacion Divina Providencia” near the Philippine Embassy and attended a Thanksgiving Mass (12:00 noon) officiated by a Filipino priest - Fr. Eli Mata. The mass was celebrated in English while the Filipino Community sang mass hymns in Pilipino. The Thanksgiving Mass ended at 1:00 p.m.
Thus, with the “Vino de Honor’ (Friday 11 June); the Floral Offering / Flag Ceremony at the monument of Gen. Bernardo O’Higgins and Thanksgiving Mass on Saturday, 12 June 1982, we celebrated the 84th Anniversary of the Proclamation of our Independence simply, but with solemnity and dignity. This is the first time that the Philippine Embassy celebrated in Santiago an anniversary of Philippine National Day.
Congratulatory messages were received by the Embassy from the President of Chile, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, foreign embassies in Chile, members of the Chilean cabinet, business, cutural sectors and from the Filipino Community. The celebration was published in Chilean local newspapers, notably in the El Mercurio, La Nacion and the Santiago Chronicle.
In March 1980, the Philippine national flag was hauled down from a flagpole of the Philippine Honorary Consulate in Santiago; trampled upon by irate demonstrators and Chile almost break diplomatic relations with the Philippines. The violent demonstration was provoked by the “cancelled” visit to the Philippines of the President of Chile.Two years later, in June 1982, the Philippine national flag was raised on a flagpole side-by-side with the Chilean national flag at Plaza Bulness in front of La Moneda Palace and our National Anthem was played by Chilean military band. instead of protest notes, we received congratulatory messages and expression of friendship, goodwill and cooperation.
By the way, history records show that prior to the Proclamation of Philippine Independence on 12 June 1898, libertarian leaders of Chile had already sympathy for the Philippines and her people.
For example, way back in 1867, a Chilean “Confidential Agent” named Vicuna Mackenna who was stationed in New York City, sent a confidential letter (No. 22, dated 20 April) to Chilean foreign minister Alvaro Covarrubias recommending how Chile and her allies in the Pacific could oblige Spain to pay reparations or punish Spanish for her crimes. Mr, Mackenna suggested the following options;
Send a Chilean Maritime Expedition to the Philippines;
Attack Spanish ports in the Pacific; and
Military expedition to Cuba,
Vicuna Mackenna in discussing option No. 1, (sending of naval expedition to the Philippines), mentioned that Chile has the capability of doing it with her own resources and realizable as what Lord Conchrame proposed to Director O’Higgins in 1822.
Chilean foreign minister acknowledged receipt of Mackenna’s letter No. 22. Later, however, Mackenna received a letter from his foreign minister stating among others that the government has decided to terminate his services and that Mackenna “should return to the country as soon as possible.”
It is noted that at the time Mackenna sent a proposal that Chile send a naval expedition to the Philippines, the burning issues of the day in Manila was the secularization of the parishes, and the revolutionary movement of the Filipinos through the Katipunan under Andres Bonifacio was founded 25 years later in July 1892.
In other words, when Mackenna suggested to his foreign minister that a naval expedition be sent to the Philippines “to punish Spain for her crimes”, the Filipino independence movement was not yet in full bloom although there were already some signs of discontent among the Filipino people.
Be that as it may, today the Philippines and Chile have close, friendly, mutually beneficial relations both countries since they have attained their respective independence from colonial rule. Great progress has been attained in the field of trade, economic and cultural exchanges. Both countries have their diplomatic mission in their respective capitals - Santiago and Manila