This year’s celebration of the Philippines’ Independence Day has been recognized by the City of Norfolk, Virginia, the sister city of Cagayan de Oro.
In an proclamation dated May 27, 2021, Kenneth Cooper Alexander, Ph.D., Mayor of the City of Norfolk, declared Saturday, June 12, 2021, as Philippine Independence Day in the City of Norfolk and urged all citizens to join with the Norfolk Sister Cities Association and the Filipino Community “to recognize the numerous invaluable contributions the Filipino Community has made to our city and the region and celebrate with them on this historic occasion.”
Raylene Ann Baumgart, president of the Cagayan de Oro Committee of the Norfolk Sister Cities Association, confirmed in an email message dated June 7, 2021 that “ June 12 is now recognized as a special celebration for Norfolk. After meeting with Jennifer over a month ago, she helped in getting this approved and we got it!”
However, Baumgart aid there will be no program to mark the occasion this year “due to COVID19 restrictions and other reasons but we will definitely plan for a great event next year!”.
Cagayan de Oro became the 7th sister city of Norfolk on June 18, 2008 when then Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim and then Cagayan de Oro Mayor Constantino Jaraula signed the sisterhood agreement at the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Square. It was fitting venue, being the “Liberator of the Philippines” final resting place.
The two cities share a historical link through Gen. Douglas MacArthur when he landed in Cagayan (then known as Cagayan de Misamis) on March 13, 1942 in his famous Breakout from Corregidor. After a four-day layover at Del Monte, the General, his family and general staff where airlifted to Australia on March 17, 1942. Upon his arrival at Australia, he uttered his famous vow “I shall return,” which he fulfilled when he landed with on Leyte on October 20, 1944 with a landing force which eventually liberated the entire Philippines.
Similarly, Dr. Juan M. Montero II, who brokered the sister cityhood relationship between Norfolk and Cagayan de Oro, also expressed his pleasure at the proclamation in an email message to Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander.
“I am very pleased of your patriotic proclamation to recognize June 12th as Philippine Independence Day in the City of Norfolk. On behalf of Filipino-Americans and as a sitting member of the Board of General Douglas MacArthur Memorial Foundation, I wholeheartedly thank you,” Montero said in his message.
Cagayan de Oro’s 800,000 population plus four universities and several colleges complement 40,000 Filipinos living in Hampton Roads and its educational facilities.
Like Norfolk, Cagayan de Oro is also a harbor city where the MacArthur Memorial with a unique design motif patterned after the General’s famous “Philippine Field Marshall’s Cap” was erected in a small, beautiful park at the Macabalan Port Area and where Norfolk’s Mermaid “Golden Lady”, a gift from the City of Norfolk to the City of Golden Friendship, is also located.