Photos from the Shoebox: Philippines – June 12, 1998
If you had a 35mm camera you probably have a shoebox full of pictures that you never got around to sorting and putting in an album. In this series “Photos from the Shoebox” I take them out of the closest and shine light on them once more.
Today is Philippines Independence Day so I thought I’d share my photos from June 12, 1998 when the Philippines celebrated its 100th year of independence from Spain. There was a big celebration in Manila so we started the day early knowing we’d be competing with millions of people wanting to get a good spot for the parade.
Most of the roads near the Grandstand were blocked off to traffic so our driver Ronnie dropped us off as close as possible and we walked from there.
It was so incredibly hot. I had my Tilley hat and my parents and my aunt bought straw hats from the market – lucky for them. There were people everywhere squatting, sitting and lying down anywhere there was shade. We weaved our way through the crowds hoping to get to the Grandstand.
Silly us, how could we compete with 5 million people? We finally realized the hopelessness of trying to find a spot at the Grandstand and decided to go near the source of the parade – the front of the Manila Hotel. There we stood amid the throng of people, dying of heat and getting squashed. The heat was punishing and all I wanted to do was sit inside the Manila Hotel and eat a halo-halo.
Soon it was time to head back to where the fireworks show would start. Instead of heading back towards the Grandstand we decided to head straight for the front and centre where President Fidel V. Ramos sat. It was impeccable timing as we got caught at the end of the parade with everyone else who had the same idea. The crush of the crowd was immense. I thought we would get caught in a stampede.
There was a sound and light show for the last float that had a big, white mechanical bird rising from the centre of it. At that point we were stuck with nowhere to move. The fireworks started. I felt rather patriotic when the fireworks erupted behind the sun and flags of the Philippines on top of the Grandstand and when my fellow Filipinos cheered at ever burst of the fireworks show.