Friday, August 19, 2016

Philippine dignitaries in the history of New York's ticker-tape parades

It's not a tourist attraction in New York City: the series of granite plaques inlaid into the sidewalks on both sides of the city's most famous Broadway Avenue. These bear names and dates inscribed in steel, which I later learned to be the honorees of the New York ticker-tape parades through the years from 1886 to the latest in July 2015.

Granite panel commemorating ticker-tape parade for Pres. Carlos P. Garcia.

Coming from the 9/11 National Memorial, this plaque caught my interest on my way to lunch: "June 23, 1958. Carlos P. Garcia, President of the Philippines" (all caps). Later, I found out what this and the others were all about; the plaque on the sidewalk of 1 Broadway says that "These granite panels commemorate the New York tradition of ticker-tape parades up Broadway from the Battery to City Hall. This celebrated route is called the Canyon of Heroes [all caps]."

The commemorative markers were embedded in 2004 in chronological order starting from the southernmost point of the Canyon (across the Bowling Green with the popular Charging Bull sculpture and the Museum of American Indians nearby) up to the Woolworth Building.

The first ticker-tape parade happened on 28 October 1886 when the Statue of Liberty was unveiled. At that time, stock brokers occupied many offices along Broadway. They had ticker-tape machines, and they relayed stock market prices using ticker-tapes. According to accounts, when the celebration parade passed by, they ripped ticker-tapes off and threw them out of the window onto the parade. The ticker-tape parade tradition thus began.

This panel explains the embedded ones on Broadway Ave. sidewalks.

The mayor of New York City  decides who to honor with a ticker tape parade. The list includes important events (landing on the moon, end of World War II, triumphs of hometown sports teams) and dignitaries (royalties, heads of states, athletes, etc.).

So far, there had been only three honorees from the Philippines;  Elpidio Quirino, President of the Philippines. 11 August 1949; Carlos P. Garcia, President of the Philippines. 23 June 1958; and Diosdado Macapagal, President of the Philippines. 08 October 1964.  These were during their state visits to the United States.

Commemorative panel of ticker-tape parade for Pres. Elpidio Quirino.

Commemorative panel of ticker-tape parade for Pres. Diosdado Macapagal.

As an aside, Admiral George Dewey and General Douglas MacArthur, two prominent names in the history of the Philippines as an American imperial territory, were also showered with ticker-tape in the Canyon of Heroes. Dewey's defeat of the Spanish armada in Manila Bay to MacArthur's destructive redemption of his 'I shall return' promise defined the timeline of the Americanization of the Filipino psyche.

New York welcomed him after Pres. Truman dismissed him as commander of the UN forces in Korea.

New York welcomed Dewey upon his return from Manila with a parade on 30 September 1899.   MacArthur's parade did not happen after World War II. Ticker-tape rained on him on 20 April 1951 following his dismissal 'on the grounds of insubordination' as commander of the U.N. forces in Korea by President Harry S. Truman.

The ticker-tape parades remind us of the "yellow confetti" that rained down from the business buildings in Makati after the assassination of Ninoy Aquino in 1983. These were shredded yellow pages of telephone directories thrown out of windows during the protest rallies on Ayala Avenue.

No one was honored in those "yellow confetti" rallies. They were symbols of indignation against strongman Ferdinand Marcos,

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