May 25, 2024

The provincial government is taking steps to build a centre for Filipinos. Photo by BC government

April 16, 2023 - The BC Government is set to provide substantive funding for the establishment of a Filipino cultural centre in the province.

The Mabuhay House Society will receive $250,000 in funding for planning and public engagement on the development of a cultural centre to celebrate the Filipino community in BC.

In a media release, BC’s Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport Lana Popham expressed the Government’s commitment, “Our multicultural society is B.C.’s strength and the contributions of the Filipino community in B.C. are an important part of our province’s history, culture and success.” Popham added, “Having a Filipino cultural centre where the community can connect and share their heritage has been a dream of the Filipino community in B.C. for a long time, and it’s exciting to support the work towards making this vision a reality.”

The Mabuhay House Society is a not-for-profit organization based in Vancouver that aims to lead planning and community engagement for a provincial Filipino cultural centre. The public engagement phase among the Filipino community is set to begin this summer.

Canadian Filipino MLA Mable Elmore said, “Our government is committed to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.” Elmore, who is Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, also spoke on behalf of the Filipino community.  “It’s been a long-standing desire to have a physical space for the Filipino community to come together and celebrate culture and heritage. This is an important first step towards creating a community space that gives the Filipino community a place to call home.”

Mabuhay House Society’s board member James Infante spoke of the “crucial first step in establishing a cultural centre that highlights the contributions of the Filipino community in BC.” He noted, “Our society is a strong voice for this key project and this funding underscores the B.C. government’s commitment to bringing this important centre into existence.”

More than 150,000 Filipinos and local Filipino associations, religious and not-for-profit organizations call the province home. They have a long history in British Columbia dating back to the 1880s when a small community lived in Bowen Island.  In fact the  history of  Filipino immigration to Canada began when Benson Flores arrived on Bowen Island  in 1861 as reported  by the 1911 Canadian Census. However, large scale Filipino migration happened only in the last 70 years  with the majority of them arriving only after the year 2000.   Although recent immigrants,   they are the fastest growing  among  Asian immigrant groups  but there has been no provincial cultural centre for them  in BC. This support from the BC  provincial  government  to  establish such a centre is a major step towards achieving their long- standing dream for such a gathering place. 

About the Author
Rachel Ramos-Reid started writing for magazines and newspapers when she was still a junior at the University of the Philippines’ Communication degree program majoring in Journalism. She continued to write in a public relations/corporate communications capacity in various private and government offices until moving out of the country in 1997 to work as Programme Officer for the arts and culture branch of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO-SPAFA) in Bangkok, Thailand. At the end of her term, Rachel found herself immigrating to Canada in the year 2000 and again searching for new beginnings. Currently she is the Executive Assistant to a small rural college on Vancouver Island.

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