By: Joe Mauricio
The island nation of the Philippines was colonized by the Americans for fifty years. But the beauty of all these, the Americans left us with the beautiful traditions and holidays that were accepted by the Filipinos and embedded with our culture gracefully, such as, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Independence Day (July 4th), Christmas (American style, and New Year’s (American style). Filipinos observe these “American” holidays by offering prayers of thanks to the Lord and celebrating with a feast in each and every occasion.
During the American period (1901-1935) for a Thanksgiving holiday, the Philippines, being an American colony and part of the territory of the U.S., celebrated Thanksgiving holiday annually also in November, coinciding with America’s traditional celebration.
American Governors-General would issue proclamations declaring Thanksgiving a holiday celebrated by Filipinos nationwide. The first Thanksgiving dinner held in the Philippines was on November 24, 1898. The main dish was commonly referred to as “Dewey’s Turkey.”
When the Commonwealth of the Philippines was established in 1935, President Quezon continued to decree the American Thanksgiving Day in the Philippines as a national holiday. This public practice continued secretly during the Japanese occupation. After Second World War, the Thanksgiving Day tradition continued as a special public holiday. Upon the declaration of Martial Law in 1972, Thanksgiving Day was moved to September 21.
Today, American expatriates, along with the Fil-Ams returning in the Philippines, will make preparations in celebrating the most important holiday of the year and will flock to the grocery stores to buy turkeys as the main feast for dinner, to be served with family recipes for apple pie, pumpkin soup, and other traditional American Thanksgiving dishes.
Many Filipinos living in the United States also celebrate Thanksgiving Day with friends and relatives watching football and basketball games on TV, while feasting on Turkey, ham, and other fares, with their favorite Thanksgiving drinks. Maraming Salamat to Uncle Sam! Mabuhay tayong lahat!