2019 Kalayaan (“Freedom”) Celebration: Filipinos Unite through Food to Celebrate the Philippine Independence Day

In June of each year, since 2007, the Filipino-American (FilAm) community in Metro-Atlanta, come together to commemorate the Philippine Independence Day through the Kalayaan Celebration with the Kalayaan Gala taking place on the actual Philippine Independence day – June 12.  Philippine Honorary Consul General Raoul “Ray” Donato, Makabayan Georgia Inc. and the Kalayaan Committee member-volunteers lead efforts to host the Kalayaan Celebration for a growing community of FilAms in Metro-Atlanta.

In 2012, the Kalayaan Family Fun Day, typically held on a Saturday at a park, was added as part of the Kalayaan Celebration to enable FilAms, their families and friends to join outdoor activities involving sports, children’s games, singing and poetry contests, food and Philippine-made items sold by various vendors and many more.  

On June 12, 2019, FilAms once again held the Kalayaan Gala, with venue at the Fairmont in West Midtown, using the much-loved dessert “halo halo” (or literally mix mix) as the icon for this year’s Kalayaan Celebration with the theme:  “Halo Halo: A Celebration of the History & Culinary Journey of the Filipino.”

Among the highlights of the Kalayaan Gala:

·         Keynote Speaker, Amy Besa, Author of “Memories of Philippine Kitchens – Stories and Recipes from Far and Near” and Co-Owner (along with husband, Chef Romy Dorotan) of Purple Yam Restaurant in Brooklyn, NY, spoke on “Flavors of the Philippine Kitchen.”


·         Individual Consular Awardee Anita Smith was recognized for her work as Founder of Damayan FilAm Association of Middle Georgia leading several community projects in the Philippines and in GA.


·         Group Consular Awardee Philippine Nurses Association of Georgia (PNAGA) was recognized for their volunteer work holding free health clinics and free health fairs through the years.


·         Silent Auction of Philippine Indigenous (Lumad) Dolls by the Galing Foundation to benefit Philippine indigenous communities.


·         Poster display of Philippine dishes by participating FilAm organizations, with Northwest Phil-Am Association of GA winning the “Most Creative” poster, selected by Chef Romy Dorotan, displaying “tupig” an Ilocano dessert made from rice.


Here is a Message of Thanks from Anne Marie Logarta, 2019 Kalayaan Committee Chairperson:

Dear Kalayaan Committee Members, Participating Filipino-American Organizations, Sponsors, Donors, Friends of Kalayaan, Friends and Kababayans (“Countrymen”),

I am profoundly grateful for your volunteerism in hosting a close to 480 person Kalayaan Gala on June 12, 2019. I am also profoundly grateful to our sponsors, donors and Friends of Kalayaan for your financial and in-kind support.

Wow, and yes, what a night it was.  People were abuzz with excitement and it was wonderful to see you in your Philippine attire or national dress, worn by many that evening.  You all looked glamorous and dapper – and I was so proud to wear Filipiniana, just like many of you.

You all worked very diligently these past few months, and the pull to the finish line wasn’t easy.  It was tiring, exhausting, consuming and we were worn out and tired. Many of you did not eat on time nor sleep much, you were literally “burning the midnight oil”, especially the last few days before and during the Gala. Many worked under-time or took days off from work. I must commend you for your hard work, dedication and efforts.

We hosted the Gala with all the necessary elements of the Pinoy village: the bahay kubo, poster display of Philippine cuisine, fresh flowers, floral centerpieces, flags, silent auction of indigenous or lumad dolls, souvenir program with banig (“woven”) border, menu cards with banig border, a taste of Filipino food, with a real halo halo as dessert, halo halo poster, halo halo projection at the main dining hall, Mabuhay or welcome poster, sponsors’ backdrop, music, Filipino band: Jammrs, soloists, dancers, awardees and others who were part of the program, and the presence of FilAm participating Organizations, sponsors, donors, Friends of Kalayaan, friends and Kababayans.

Yes, there are many learnings and fine-tuning of processes and to-dos – overall, the Gala was full of excited and happy guests and Kababayans, all wanting to connect or reconnect their friendships and be together.

Our Keynote speaker, Amy Besa and Chef Romy Dorotan were  thrilled to meet us, to meet many in the FilAm community from Metro-Atlanta, and to be part of something special that evening,  Before Amy and Chef Romy departed the Fairmont, they hugged me and shared with me, “Your event tonight was real and authentic.”

And I too felt something very special about that evening, and I am certain that you felt it as well – we were all connected, all one in being so proud to be Filipino.  Proudly, Pinoy ako!

The social media feeds on Facebook and other channels were non-stop day after the Gala and these continued for a couple of days more. We had very excited guests who were documenting the event. I am a social media fanatic myself and was delighted with the response.

Feedback or comments about the Kalayaan Celebration, both for Family Fun Day and the Gala, are most welcome.  Our common goal is a bigger and better Kalayaan Celebration next year and in the future.  Please email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Maraming, maraming salamat to you Kalayaan Committee members, Chairman Didi O’Connor & the Makabayan Board and Philippine Honorary Consul General Ray Donato. 

Thank you again to our sponsors, donors, Friends of Kalayaan, friends and Kababayans for your support.

Mabuhay kayong lahat and see you at the Kalayaan 2020!


Anne Marie Logarta

Chairperson, 2019 Kalayaan Committee




Celebration Pictures