Fireworks, fun and freedom


We reconnected with friends in North America last week when we focused on the celebration of Canada Day on July 1.

We complete our two-part series this week as we feature how our Negrense friends in the United States celebrated the 4th of July, the U. S. Independence Day.

The day commemorates the independence of America’s original 13 colonies – New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia – from British rule. It was on July 4, 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was adopted.


Among those who responded to my online questions sent, Nelia Dingcong-Bernabe, a former media colleague and co-teacher at UNO-R MassComm, has stayed the longest in the United States.

Nelia, who was a member of the first Journalism class I handled on Recoletos campus, has been living in the Chicago area for 35 years now.

She is currently the social media and communications manager of a non-profit social services organization that has been around for more than 140 years.

Nelia has just returned to her home in Des Plaines after visiting her two daughters and their children in Long Island, New York.

Her Independence Day fare for years now?

“The usual – barbecue, lots of backyard activities around food, swimming and cornhole game, among others,” she said.

Another activity that I did was join the city parade on July 4. Our organization walked in the parade for Des Plaines, she further said.


Joy Cuadra-Bird, a native of La Carlota City, has been living in the United States for 23 years. She acquired her U.S. citizenship in 2012.

A registered nurse, Joy lives in Boonton, New Jersey which is a suburb of New York City.

“The highlight of the celebration is usually the fireworks presentation,” she said, but because of an impending thunderstorm, it was moved to another date.

“We celebrated with hotdogs and rootbeer,” she said.


Another former student of mine is La Salle alumna, Kathleen ‘Kae’ Casey, who lives in Fort Myers in Florida.

Fort Myers is a medium-sized city widely-known for beach combing, shelling, kayaking and bird- watching activities.

Kae has been in the United States for 14 years. She became a U.S. citizen seven years ago.

She is currently a global recruitment program manager.

On July 4, she said she “spent quality time catching up with my best friend after not being able to see each other for a month and tried a new restaurant together.”


In 2012, Efren Timtinan and wife Sally, visited their children in California, where they stayed for six months.

In their subsequent visit, they decided to stay longer, particularly since they were there during the pandemic period.

They are presently staying with their eldest daughter, Neila Joy, in Discovery Bay, a fresh-waterfront community located in the eastern part of the San Francisco Bay area.

They spent the July 4th holiday with the family of their youngest daughter, Myla Rose Tan, in Santa Clarita, which is about 300 miles south.

The couple enjoyed their 4th of July trip, which was capped with a restaurant dinner and fireworks display which they watched with their daughter and her family.


For 16 years, Candy Genovea-Wagner has been living in the United States.  She presently resides with her family – husband Brian and daughter Adrienne – in Woodridge, Virginia, a city once known for its vast dairy farms.

She has been an American citizen for eight years now.

Candy is presently working as a program administrator.

Her 4th of July holiday was spent in her neighborhood with friends. The common fare was enjoyed by everyone – barbecues, burgers and sandwiches highlighted with a seafood feast consisting of a shrimp boil tray – with corn, potatoes and sausages – and crabs.

Candy topped the fare by ordering some Filipino dishes, including lumpia and sisig.

“Fireworks were everywhere for about three hours in our neck of the woods and they were spectacular!”


Mymy Suajico-Santiago, a resident of Prince William County, also in Virginia, has been living in the United States since 2010 “and pledged allegiance to the U.S. flag in 2014.”

Prince County lies beside the historic Potomac River.

Mymy is presently working as government contractor for the United States Small Business Administration as a loan specialist focused on fraud investigation.

She said she stayed at home on July 4 (a Thursday) and “grilled all-American staple – burgers – and watched the neighborhood fireworks at home with the family.”

The next day was when most people gathered and celebrated since it was a weekend.

Her Bulgarian next-door neighbor invited them for an all-women wine and barbecue. “We’re immigrants from different countries with diverse backgrounds and it’s always fun learning about each other’s culture and celebrate the beauty of this country we now all know as home,” she said.


From coast to coast, Filipinos who have made the United States their new home, joined fellow Americans and immigrants in celebrating the 4th of July amid grilled delights, fun, fireworks and the spirit of unity amid diversity.


Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (II Corinthians 3:17) | NWI