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Filipinos celebrate independence at Federal Way Walmart

Dozens of Filipino-Americans gathered Friday at the Walmart Supercenter in Federal Way. - Courtesy of Mark Knapp
Dozens of Filipino-Americans gathered Friday at the Walmart Supercenter in Federal Way.
— image credit: Courtesy of Mark Knapp

Dozens of Filipino-Americans celebrated their culture and native nation's Independence Day at the Walmart Supercenter in Federal Way.

On June 12, 1898, the Philippines declared independence from Spain.

Friday's festivities in Federal Way featured traditional Filipino dances such as Tinikling, Moro-Moro and Pandango. Guests ate lechon, a whole roasted pig.

At the celebration, participants represented the range of regions and dialects from the Philippines. Federal Way resident Marie Knapp was invited to sing "Bayan Ko," a Filipino folk song about freedom. The song was once banned by former authoritarian president Ferdinand Marcos. Those who sang "Bayan Ko" before 1986 faced punishment, including jail.

"That song is meaningful to me," said Knapp, who sang while wearing a traditional white dress from her native country. Her rendition was dedicated to Walmart's Filipino employees, many of whom got teary eyed while listening to Knapp, a U.S. resident since 1994.

"It's so full of sentiments," she said of the folk song. "It's about freedom — freedom from tyrants and rulers."

The Federal Way event was coordinated by Andromeda Allen, a Walmart employee, to celebrate this historical date in the Southeast Asian nation. According to the 2010 Census, more than 3.4 million Americans of Filipino ancestry reside in the U.S.

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