...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Two countries, two national days

Yesterday (June 6) was Sweden's National Day, which is actually officially called the Day of the Swedish Flag (Flag Day). Though there were surely holiday celebrations, we had no impulse to check what they were. We thought the bad singing emanating from the school program up the street was bad enough. Instead, Marcus and I and a couple of friends just ate ice cream and walked around town people-watching -- both of which are national pastimes nowadays as the sun is out. It was (tah-dah!) 25 degrees warm on a cloudless sky.

The Swedish flag has actually been around since the 10th century. According to the mythology, king Eric the Holy looked up into the blue sky during a battle, saw the sun flash like a cross, and took this as a sign from god. Since then, his hallucination had been deemed the symbol of the kingdom. The Flag Day celebration itself is pretty recent though: it was first celebrated only in 1983 (only so that they would have a so-called National Day, which they didn't have in the past) and it was later declared a holiday in 2005. Why June 6 was chosen I don't really know, but it was also incidentally the date when King Gustav Vasa (in 1523) was elected king. It is at the time of his reign that the first record of the Swedish flag as it looks today could be found.

All this need to set up a National Day so recently in history seems strangely arbitrary, until you look at the Philippine example and realize it's not so unique after all. Our own Filipino Independence Day (June 12 1898) had not even been recognized by anybody until as late as 1964, when Republic Act No. 4166 declared that it should be that. Before this, Filipinos were actually celebrating July 4 as the Day of Independence from the Americans for 18 whole years! July 4 also happens to be a more accurate date, since the event in 1898 didn't actually bring about the reality of independence (not that July 4 1946 did that either, as the author of this article argues).

In the end however, I think it's equally strange to set a old king's coronation day as the Swedish National Day as it is setting back the Philippine Independence Day almost 7 decades back into the past. Oh, and did you know that June 12 happens to be George Bush Sr.'s birthday? Haha!


The contentious cookies.
Warning: may contain nuts :-D

I told myself that for my Independence Day entry, I would write about these cookies called Filipinos, a pack of which I actually bought in Holland once just because I remembered the controversy surrounding it during my high school years.

In 1999 the Philippine government (because of a resolution by congressman Heherson Alvarez) actually filed a diplomatic complaint to Spain, the EU and Nabisco because the cookies were "offensive" and supposedly played humor at Filipinos who, according to Alvarez, were "dark outside and white inside" like the cookies. Ha! How laughable, since the cookies never had that tagline to begin with! Maybe he was only speaking for himself, but apparently Joseph Estrada could relate to the color reference too, calling the cookies "an insult."

I think the whole thing is pathetic now that I read about it, and a real showcase of stupidity. After all, no one was complaining about the Filipinos brand until Alvarez' self-proclamation as a little brown American. As the (more sober) Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon said of this issue, the Austrians don't seem to be complaining that the small sausages are called "Vienna sausages".

I wonder what Alvarez would think if he knew about the new milk-chocolate covered Filipinos? Poking fun at Filipinas dreaming to become whiter from bleaching lotion overuse or a year's supply of papaya soap? For more, I wonder what he would think of the new snacking variant, "mini Filipinos?" Hardyharhar.... har.

By the way, the cookies tasted good.


Blogger vlado&toni said...

unfortunately i cannot see the pictures both this and the ones from abba :(
yup i've tasted the cookies too, not bad actually :)

3:48 PM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

I actually think there's something up with Blogger, because on some days I can see the pictures, and on some days I can't. At any case, I'll try uploading them again and see what happens. Hope you see them soon! :-) Thanks for dropping by!

5:52 PM


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