BY ROYSTON SIM AND AMELIA TAN, Straits Times
ORGANISERS of a plan to celebrate Philippine Independence Day here had to remove a Facebook post about the event, after it drew a storm of vitriol and protests from netizens.
The online response came as a shock, they said, though they still intend to proceed with the celebration on June 8 at Ngee Ann City’s Civic Plaza, pending approval of permits from the authorities.
The Pilipino Independence Day Council Singapore (PIDCS), a group of Filipino volunteers, put up a post on Facebook about the event last weekend and drew fire almost immediately.
Negative comments from Singaporeans flooded in, with Facebook page “Say ‘No’ to an overpopulated Singapore” urging locals to protest on the PIDCS page.
The page, which has 26,000 “likes”, is against the celebration of the Philippine Independence Day here and said that festivities should be confined to the Philippine Embassy compound.
It took issue with the PIDCS for using the Marina Bay skyline in a logo for the event, which is meant to celebrate the Philippines’ independence from Spain on June 12, 1898.
It also opposed the PIDCS using the terms “two nations” and “interdependence” in posters for the event.
The PIDCS decided to take down the Facebook post after it drew hundreds of anti-Filipino comments, with many slamming the PIDCS for holding the celebration in Orchard Road.
Its co-chairman Rychie Andres said the vitriol took him by surprise and that it was “sad and disheartening”.
He said the intent of the event is to celebrate by reaching out in the host country, and added that the slogan about interdependence had been misunderstood.
“We are not saying that we are trying to take over. Our drive is to be part of the community and try to open up to other nationalities,” he said. “Interdependence doesn’t mean Singaporeans depend on us, but that we all help each other.”
In the run-up to the celebration, the PIDCS organised a blood donation drive and a visit to an elderly home. Mr Andres said the council has held celebrations in past years at Hong Lim Park and Suntec City, but has never received criticism on this scale.
Ms Cecilia Lim, 28, a self- employed Singaporean, felt some of the online comments were excessive. She said: “People should have the right to celebrate their independence day if they are granted the permits, just as we celebrate Singapore Day overseas.”