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May 19 will be a remarkable day in Ketchikan. Seven cruise ships are expected to bring 13,226 passengers to the First City, beginning at 6 a.m. and ending at 8 p.m. That's more than 2,000 above the highest cruise passenger day a year ago.

Margaret Mae Bolton, 83, died April 15, 2017, in Ketchikan.
Courtney Marie Marshall, 36, died April 11, 2017, in Seattle.
Marcario Rado, 58, died April 10, 2017, in Ketchikan.
Bayanihan spirit

Chicken adobo, singangag (fried rice), jasmine rice, fried tilapia, pinakbet (mixed vegetables steamed in fish or shrimp sauce), dinuguan (savory stew), puto (slightly sweet steamed cake topped with cheese, mungo soup, kare kare (oxtail stew) — mmmmm.

The menu at the Ketchikan Medical Center was distinctly, deliciously Filipino in nature on Wednesday, and with good reason: It was the 115th anniversary of the Philippines’ independence from Spain.

That is a day to celebrate here, as so many of our neighbors are from there, or descended from Filipinos. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, nearly 15 percent of the city’s population is Filipino. Even those few with no friends or connections to the local Filipino community know and love its trademark food (lumpia!).

But Americans and Alaskans cherish our independence, and appreciate the day’s significance for our neighbors’ homeland. Filipino President Benigno Aquino III wrote, in his Independence Day message from Malacañan Palace in Manila, that those who fought for the freedom obtained in 1898 granted “every Filipino the right to pursue what is good and right for himself, his loved ones, and his country.”

The sacrifices were not in vain, he wrote: “Today, our people remain united in independence, and are now fighting another battle — to free ourselves from the shackles of ignorance, corruption, injustice, and poverty. May you ignite the patriotism and bayanihan spirit in your heart, as together, we build and fortify the structures on which our nation is built.”

“Bayanihan,” roughly translated from Tagalog, means “cooperative undertaking.”

President Aquino noted what we all would do well to keep in mind, whatever our country of origin: “We are our country’s modern-day heroes ... let us work as one collective, playing our part as custodians of peace and democracy.”

Maligayang Araw ng Kalayaan!