The month of November is a very significant month for Panamanians. There are several days that are celebrated due to their historical context. November 3rd marks the separation from Colombia and the creation of the Republic of Panama. While getting ready for the separation from Colombia two Panamanians, Don Manuel E Amador and Dona Maria Ossa de Amador, designed and sewed a flag in secret. On November 4th the flag was presented and is dedicated to its tribute. The color red on the flag symbolizes the liberals and the blue the conservatives, the two political parties at the time of separation. The white represents the long awaited peace, the blue star symbolizes purity and honesty, the red star is authority and the law. On November 20th, Panamanians celebrate El Primer Grito de Independencia en la Villa de Los Santos. This was the gaining of Independence from colonial Spanish rule in the province of Los Santos. There are several other cities in Panama that celebrate difference days of independence from Spanish rule. The official day of Panamanian independence from Spain is November 28th where they joined the union to Colombia (leading to the second independence date of November 3rd).
At first I was confused when learning about the historical dates, but the basic and most important fact to know is that Panama celebrates two days of independence first from Spain then from Colombia. On November 4th, I happened to be in San Miguel and was able to attend some of the festivities that the area had. We commuted to La Mesa, about a 30 minute drive from San Miguel and the middle point to the entire San Martin “County.” There we were able to see a parade of all the schools in the area and their small marching bands, mostly consisting of drums and xylophones. It was a huge celebration. There were various food stands and other types of vendors. This was something that I had been looking forward to! Needless to say, I ate a plate of potato salad, salchichas, about two or three holadres, and chichi de naranja!
We arrived to La Mesa just in time so see the beginning of the parade. The first to present was a woman in full Pollera dress, a tipico Panamanian style. She was dancing along with the music that was being played by the band that followed her occasionally stopping to pose for picture next to the Panamanian flag. Two schools later, our students from San Miguel were up! All of them seemed so serious and concentrated on their marching and their drum playing. It finally made sense to me why they took their recess time to practice their drumming instead of playing. This was their way of showing their pride, to their community of San Miguel and to their beloved country of Panama.
Watching them made me feel so happy! They passed us by as they continued to march full of smiles; I couldn’t help but feel proud! Those were my students, students that I have grown to care about. It was a great experience to be able to see them shine at the parade after all their hard work.