KALAYAAN 2021: The 123rd Celebration of Philippine Independence by the Philippine Consulate General - New York City

The Philippines commemorates its Declaration of Independence from Spanish rule on the 12th day of June every year with pomp and pageantry across the islands. In New York City, a grand parade among Filipinos, the largest Independence Day celebration outside of the country, takes place along Madison Avenue and culminates in a huge cultural concert at Madison Square Park. With government restrictions putting a halt on mass gatherings due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the celebrations took on a year-long hiatus off the streets of Manhattan in 2020.

Because existing health protocols still prevented the assembly of large crowds for a grand festival, and in its desire to fete our countrymen in the US East Coast with a festive celebration beyond the boring zoom platform, the Philippine Consulate General New York appointed the Tagline Group and its below-the-line and digital agencies, Oncuemedia, Inc. and Binary Digital Advertising, respectively, to mount the annual festivities for Kalayaan (Independence) 2021 NYC.

Via social media posts on the heavily visited pages of the consulate, media partners and select Filipino organizations in the US, we invited Filipinos to visit the Kalayaan Center-New York, an interactive and highly immersive space we designed to cater to the thousands of Filipinos longing for an authentic Filipino fiesta on June 12, 2021 across the US East Coast. With a true Filipino vibe central to our execution, this virtual space was developed to provide entertainment and a means for Filipinos to converge at a crucial time when unity among our people is very much essential.

At the Kalayaan Center Virtual Space, visitors were greeted by avatars, after the registration procedure, extending to them a walk-through of the environment for better appreciation of the interactive features. With music control integration, visitors were given the choice to regulate sound or play homegrown tunes according to their liking as they navigated through the platform. Simulating a real-world set up, various booths provided a glimpse of local designers on the global spotlight, visual arts through a 3-dimensional tour of the National Museum in Manila, and dishes from the up & coming restaurants in New York. A photo-booth was on hand to capture one’s moment in the space for immediate download or sharing on social media. Videos from various organizations were also shown along with brand and program primers from the event sponsors. The experience was capped with a 12-hour program of the opening festivities, song and dance tributes to essential workers, a fashion show, a cooking demonstration of Filipino cuisine, an exhibition of Covid-19-inspired amateur films, and the Filipino Pop Quiz Night to close the event. The bulk of these, produced live in Manila and simulcast on the platform, on Vimeo and on Facebook Live.