Every year we commemorate the Independence of our nation from the Spanish colonizers. Unfamiliar to many is the fact that President Emilio Aguinaldo was in Angeles City when the first anniversary of the Philippine Independence on 12 June 1899 was celebrated.
According to the La Independencia news correspondence published on 14 June 1899 that was found by historian Mr. Francis Musni of Pampanga, there was a national feast celebrated in the town of Angeles. A field mass was held at the atrium of the Holy Rosary Parish Church attended by the President, together with 2000 uniformed personnel and the public community.
This event marks a nationally relevant memory to the place, thus making the whole complex, now, which is called the “Angeles Heritage District” a historical site. The National Historical Commission of the Philippines recognizes this through the resolution released in 2016, stating that the national flag must be permanently hoisted 24 hours a day, and every day of the week.
This year, the Museum of Social History, a museum under the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and the Local Government of Angeles City celebrates the 125th Anniversary of the Philippine Independence with the theme Kalayaan, Kinabukasan at Kasayayan. This milestone event is celebrated by our Guest of Honor Hon. Lazatin, Carmelo “Jon” II B. District Representative Pampanga, Angeles City Mayor Carmelo “Pogi” Lazatin, Vice Mayor Vicky Vega-Cabigting, PBGen Vargas and NHCP Representative Bettina Arriola, NHCP Curators of Pampanga and Zambales clusters museums, Angeles City Councilors, head officials and employees of Angeles City Local Government, PNP Angeles, Kuliat Foundation Board of Trustees, DEPED Angeles Officials.
The celebration commenced with the simultaneous flag raising ceremony and wreath laying, followed by a performance on Kalayaan by a dance group of City College of Angeles then a tour around the museum highlighting its historical relevance in line with the Independence Day Celebration and the Inaua Interactive Exhibit.
The interactive exhibit was opened to the public last 10 June 2023, attended by Guest of Honor Dean Jimmuel Naval from the College of Arts and Letters of the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Angeles City Vice Mayor Vicky Vega-Cabigting, Ms. Ana Algabre-Hernandez the Ambassador of Goodwill, Dr. Vittorio Pantig the President of Gamat Kapampangan and participating artist in the exhibit.
On the same day, a freedom concert performance was led by the Paper Soul – Spoken Word Poetry Organization with the Sinukwan Dancers, Ess-Ay Collectives, and other bands. The original theme song “Inaua” and the first of its kind Kapampangan Monologues was launched. The concert and exhibit theme highlights self-freedom and wind as a symbol of freedom and an agent of change. Such that in order to achieve freedom one has to create a change.
Guest of honor, Dean Jimuel Naval delivered his message on freedom and defines it as having no pressure from the social media, no stress from the noisy neighbors, assurance that we have food to eat, lesser obligations or liabilities, that we are at peace, we know how to treat people well, and we know how to forgive. In his last message he adds, “..may paniniwala, paninindigan kung ano ang matuwid at tama. Sa palagay ko sapat na ito upang sabihing may laya pa rin tayo bilang mamamayan na pamayanang Pilipinas. Kaya ingatan natin ang ating Kalayaan dahil babalik tayo sa panahon bago ang 1898 o bago ang 1946 kapag ito ay nawala.”
In her message, Vice Mayor Vega-Cabigting states she loves that the organizers chose a very important Kapampangan word, inaua, meaning breath. “If we read, Genesis 2:7, God breath life into man and he came to life. Inaua indicates life and the lack of it. So instead of just saying ‘mete’ (dead), old Kapampangans will say, ‘mepatad ya inaua’,” Vega-Cabigting said.
This transformative exhibit deems the value of self-freedom from all the impending social challenges that our society faces living in the world of the new normal and digital age, that at some point we must be reminded that in this fast-paced world, we must slow down, embrace stillness, reflect and learn to flow. Freedom starts from within. The world would be a better place if people learn to coexist is one of the messages of the Curator Ms. Arriola in her speech as she emphasized the reality of many people struggling from breaking free from societal issues that have yet to be resolved. Creativity and the arts is one among the many powerful tools that she believes society needs, including value on history and learning from our past which our linear life has put aside. Humans are born to create and thus must be integrative to the lives of the people.
Featured in the exhibit are more than 1000 folded paper cranes by museum volunteers and personnel, works of participating artists of Gamat Kapampangan, and the dream catchers community. Installation exhibits on dancing cloth and paper planes are spread over the different galleries leading one to the ultimate sky at the tower. The exhibit is open until July 15, 2023.
Dela Cruz, Rhonie Investigating History: The Forgotten Account of the First Battle of Angeles, August 16, 1899
August 16, 1899 Battle of Angeles. Retrieved on June 11, 2023. https://philippineamericanwar.webs.com/battleofangeles.htm
*All photos are from the Museum of Philippine Social History.