In June 2019, Canada celebrated for the first time it's Filipino Heritage Month following the passage of the motion M-155 by the House of Commons the previous year. It is a historical milestone in the lives of over 850,000 Canadians of Filipino heritage, some of whom have been instrumental in this national advocacy, starting with Filipinos in major cities around Canada shaking their political representatives to recognize the contribution of Filipinos in Canada.
Canadian Filipino Net (CFNet) reported on the festivities all over Canada during this historic month:
The Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver mounted a food and travel fair in downtown Vancouver. Then Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism Pablo Rodriguez gave tribute to the Filipino community in the “valuable role they play in creating an open and diverse society.”
CFNet’s piece Canadian Filipinos celebrate Canada’s first Filipino Heritage Month enumerated a number of various festivities that were held in the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia and Ontario in June. Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made sure he joined the celebrations in Prime Minister Trudeau marks Filipino Heritage Month with a visit to a Filipino restaurant.
Paulina Corpuz was recognized for her role in initiating the declaration of Filipino Heritage Month in the City of Toronto, but Corpuz herself knows that the work in uplifting the profile of Filipinos in Canada is far from being done.
In Paulina Corpuz-initiator of Filipino heritage month in Canada-sees more work to uplift the community, she concedes that “invisibility” is a challenge for all Canadian Filipinos, noting that “we are not visible in the important places particularly in the three levels of government.”
Corpuz hit the nail on the head as we saw a number of Canadian Filipino artists working to break barriers like theatre artist Monica Ogden fighting racism and misogyny in her one-woman show, a collaboration of visual artists in Pagtitipon 2019 celebrating the creative and artistic talents of Filipinos, and animator Trevor Jimenez making it to the Oscar shortlist for Best Animated Short.
There were also notable personalities in the business community that continue to make the Filipino more visible like Junifer Torralba in Fredericton, New Brunswick who opened an online grocery store Ang Kapitbahay and Gelaine Santiago, entrepreneur and lone Filipino recipient of the 2019 RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Awards who launched Cambio & Co., an e-commerce fashion retail company that features products designed and handcrafted in the Philippines.
Bringing science to small, rural communities around the world is the organization Pueblo Science led by co-founder and executive director Dr. Mayrose Salvador. CFNet interviewed Salvador whom science brought out of poverty in rural Philippines and is now paying it forward to young students in marginalized communities.
Our culture of Bayanihan was also palpable this year when Canadian Filipinos came together to help Roshlind Mance to find a matching stem cell donor or when Winnipeg’s Filipino community turned grief into community action.
CFNet has also had the honour to receive letters and contributions from renowned Canadian Filipinos like Dr. Rey Pagtakhan who holds the distinction of being the first and so far, only Filipino Member of Parliament (1988-2004) and federal cabinet minister. His commentary on the UN Global Compact on Migration enjoins all Canadians to adopt the initiative which will “help foster national unity and affirm our common global humanity.”
A champion of immigration, Dr. Pagtakhan also wrote a criticalrebuke to a controversial Vancouver Sun opinion piece on migration.
CFNet’s regular contributors also made their well-informed thoughts on issues like racism in Veronica Caparas’ Ratting out racists and climate change in Dr. Adelaida Lacaba-Bago’s The Chemistry of Climate Change.
As we end this decade and look to the future, CFNet will report about the many ways in which the Filipino continues to make their mark in Canada.