The annual Philippine Independence Day Parade took place on August 19th, 2007 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in downtown Toronto. This is the largest activity of the year pertaining to Philippine culture. Fifteen groups participated in this year's parade. Among them, the Divine Land Marching Band composed of Falun Gong practitioners was invited to participate and its performance received a warm welcome from the spectators.
|Divine Land Marching Band of Toronto performed at the Philippine Independence Day Parade|
According to the organiser of the event, Mr. Jun Enveroa, it was the seventh Philippine Independence Day celebration and the fourth parade. This was the first time the Divine Land Marching Band participated in the parade. "They have been very supportive of our community activities. We are very moved. The music they played was very impressive. The performance and uniforms are all first class. I had a very warm feeling while watching their performance," he said.
The parade started at the intersection of Armoury Street and Centre Avenue, north of City Hall. Then it turned onto University Avenue and went up Queen's Park, Bloor Street, and Sherbourne until returning to Jarvis Street and the starting point. The streets in the area were lined with many spectators.
Ms. Xu, one of the musicians, said, "I saw many people clapping their hands to the rhythm and some raised their thumbs and cheered." "What moved me most was a Western lady. I saw her put her things on the ground and make a cross in front of her chest to pray for us, then she raised her thumbs and danced with the music. A lot of people have learned the truth about the persecution of Falun Gong in China and Falun Gong is welcomed and supported in Canada."
Mr. Li plays the saxophone. "Today's parade took about two hours. It is perhaps is the longest parade we have been in so far," he said, "and I haven't walked such a long distance recently. My legs hurt, but I am excited to see how warmly people are cheering us."
An elderly woman with a grandson in her arms stood to watch the Divine Land Marching Band. She took the baby's hand and waved to the performers. She said her name was Sun and she was from Qingdao, China. "My husband and I have been in Canada for one and a half years. We are happy to see such an awesome band of Falun Gong practitioners. We feel lucky to live in a free country."
Her husband, Mr. Wang, added, "It would be impossible in China. I know Falun Gong is persecuted severely in China."
Mrs. Sun continued, "I used to work in a district office. I knew very clearly that the persecution was very cruel. At the beginning of the persecution, all (Falun Gong practitioners) were arrested and they were not released until they wrote a guarantee statement (to give up practising Falun Gong). There was a leader in our district office who practised Falun Gong. He was arrested. We still don't know his whereabouts after so many years."
As for the Chinese Communist Party's harvesting organs from living Falun Gong practitioners, she said, "This is no longer a secret in China. It is very merciless. Why would the CCP want to persecute a group of good people?! I wish to see them again here."
After the parade ended, two organisers greeted the band members, "Thank you, thank you very much!" A band member said, "They shook hands with each one of us and thanked us."
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