A 30-minute colorful spectacle burst out in the normally serene sky of Palau as the country’s people, together with foreigners and guests, gathered at the field of the National Capitol yesterday evening to culminate the 24th Independence Day celebration and witness the grand fireworks display.
The spacious parking spaces around the Capitol that were filled with vehicles suggested that the celebration was not just treated as an ordinary event.
People who arrived at the National Capitol as late as 6pm yesterday were left with no choice but to park from distance away from the actual venue and walk their way to the Capitol where a great number of people were gathered.
A parade of parked cars welcomed guests from the entry point to the Capitol and stretched as far as almost to the end of the same road.
The center ground of the Capitol also transformed like a bazaar with all the displays of food and other items that were set up under canopies. Palauan music also filled the air, amplifying the festive mood.
President Tommy Remengesau, Jr., in his speech prior to the fireworks display, said that the special occasion is a time for Palau to reflect on the blessings and responsibilities for the country’s future.
“We must never take for granted our exercise of freedom, peace, our culture and traditions – blended with democratic principles and respect for our People,” Remengesau said.
Remengesau also stressed the role of multilateralism in the success of small nations like Palau, explaining that as the country moves forward with its efforts in nation building, it must also engage with the global community to learn from their successes.
“Despite our relatively small size and limited resources, we recognized the value in participating in the global community but we also saw the importance of making a contribution.,” Remengesau said, adding that every country, regardless of its size or wealth, will somehow have dependence on the resources and cooperation of other nations.
Palau’s president also took the time to thank all of Palau’s partner countries and organizations for flying all the way down to the country and celebrate with the Palauan people on its 24th Independence Day celebration.
“I am extremely happy to see so many good friends and generous partners representing different governments and organizations from around the globe joining us as we celebrate our 24 years of our independence,” Remengesau said.
From spectators’ point of view
Denae Johnny of the Ngaremlengui State, who attended the celebration at the Capitol yesterday, said that she really enjoyed the celebration this year.
She said that compared to last year, this year’s fireworks display is better than last year.
Johnny also expressed that as a Palauan, independence for her means like “doing things in our own way.”
Meanwhile, Marsei Orruken from Koror State, who works as a police officer for nine years already, personally believed that this year’s celebration is peaceful compared to the previous celebrations.
Orruken noted that as of 8pm yesterday, they did not receive any incident reports.
“I think people are becoming wiser,” Orruken expressed.
Although, Orruken did not enjoy the fireworks display as much as the rest of the people do as he had to stay alert while manning the ground, he said that he could tell that everyone was having fun.
This year’s Independence Day celebration is believed to have gathered more people than last year.
The fireworks display, which was sponsored by the government of Taiwan, was one of the most anticipated activities of this year’s Independence celebration.
During the weekend, families and friends also gathered at the KB Bridge to witness the traditional boat race. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)