Jun 24, 2024

If you have tasted real garlicky batchoy in La Paz, Iloilo, try and see how this Toronto batchoy compares with the original. Photo from La Paz Batchoy Toronto.

Over the last two years or so, Heritage Toronto has been organizing guided tours in what is known as Little Manila.

An agency created by the local government, Heritage Toronto promotes the rich legacy of the city through core programs like neighbourhood tours.

With its dense concentration of businesses and establishments catering mostly to Canadian Filipinos, Little Manila has emerged as the focal point for various activities of the community, like the annual celebration of Philippine Independence Day.

Little Manila is the area around the intersection of Bathurst Street and Wilson Avenue in the North York area of Toronto.

Also found on the site is the Bathurst-Wilson Parkette, where the city government opened a new garden about two years ago.

Called the Mabuhay Garden, the green space was an initiative of Councillor James Pasternak, who had noted that the development of the garden was in recognition of the Canadian Filipino community.

Heritage Toronto’s next guided tour in Little Manila is on August 18, 2018, and fittingly, the excursion starts and ends at the Bathurst-Wilson Parkette.

Organizers of the outing dubbed ‘Little Manila’: Migration, Food & Identity invite the public to “experience the ongoing transformation of the neighbourhood’s vibrant culture and food market.”

“Learn about the migration experiences and thriving entrepreneurship of Toronto’s Filipino community, one of Canada’s fastest-growing, and most diverse cultural groups,” reads Heritage Toronto’s announcement of the event.

According to the 2016 Census, Canadian Filipinos number 254,475 in Toronto, representing four percent of the total population in the metropolitan area.

Heritage Toronto also stated that participants can meet and greet family entrepreneurs in Little Manila.

They include the owners of La Paz Batchoy Toronto, a restaurant that specializes in batchoy, a noodle dish that originated from the La Paz district of Iloilo City in the Philippines.

Another establishment mentioned was the Daily Bread Bakery, which is known for its pan de sal (Filipino bread roll) and pan de coco (coconut roll).

Tour participants will also have the opportunity to visit So GoodAh, an eatery that prides itself on its lugaw (Filipino congee).

It is no accident that Bathurst Street and Wilson Avenue is also the site of the Taste of Manila festival.

Now entering its fifth year, Taste of Manila is the only Filipino street festival in Toronto. Organizers say it is the biggest Filipino festival outside the Philippines.

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