By Don Tagala, ABS CBN North America Bureau

NEW YORK CITY – Every year, on the First Sunday of June, Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan turns into a Filipino-town.

On Sunday, tens of thousands of ‘kababayans’ took part in the celebration of the 115th declaration of Philippine Independence — the largest Filipino gathering of its kind outside of the Philippines.

For many young Filipino-Americans who haven’t had a chance to visit their homeland, it’s the closest thing to coming home to the Philippines.

“It helps you learn about the food and culture because I haven’t been able to visit the Philippines for a long time,” KC Czyz who is visiting from Atlanta Georgia said.

“As a young Filipino-American, I am proud of the fact that I have roots, that I have a culture just like every other person,” San Diego resident Nica Camagay said.

“Just showing New York what the Philippines is all about, how much we love to dance, to sing, everything it’s so exciting, it always makes me feel good and I’m just really proud to be a Filipino,” said New York Radio City Rockettes Christine Sienicki.

Dozens of Filipino-American organizations, colorful floats, and cultural performers paraded on the stretch of Madison Avenue where hundreds of revelers from New York and its nearby states cheered the marchers. A contingent of Dinagyang dancers came all the way from the Philippines.

“Ngayon po ang ipinapakita po namin ngayon ay ang kalayaan ng Pilipino, ang Aguila po ay isang simbolo ng kalayaan ng Pilipino,” said Dinagyang Dancer Archimedes Paulino.

On the The Filipino Channel float were kapamilya stars Mr. Pure Energy Gary V. and son Gab Valenciano, along with Citizen Pinoy’s Attorney Michael Gurfinkel.

The Valenciano’s brought the house down with nothing but pure energy and world class entertainment.

Gary Valenciano, who recently lost his father gave an all out performance despite his loss.

“I dedicate every song and every performance to my Dad, who I know is proudly watching me again from above,” Valenciano.

At the end of the show Valenciano told the crowd that this year’s One Kapamilya Go, an annual show mounted by TFC, will be held in New York City.

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