Apr 17, 2024

Thanksgiving Mass for the 75th anniversary of Phil-Canada relations. Photo courtesy of Philippine Consul General in Vancouver

March 1, 2024 – The Philippine Embassy in Ottawa and the Consulates General in Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary will mark the 75th year anniversary of Phil-Canada Relations with special events throughout 2024. 

PCG Vancouver started the celebration with a Thanksgiving Mass at the Holy Rosary Cathedral (Downtown) on January 13. It was officiated by The Most Reverend J. Michael Miller, Archbishop of Vancouver. 

Other PCG events scheduled are:  75th Lighting Ceremony of various landmarks across Canada,  a Filipino Film Caravan, a Diplomatic Reception on Philippine National Day and 75th Anniversary of PHL-CAN Bilateral Relations, and a Panel Discussion on Filipino Immigration to Canada, based on the recently published  book “Indomitable Canadian Filipinos  and led by Eleanor Guerrero-Campbell.  Additional special events will be announced once details are finalized.
 

Diplomatic Ties that Bond

Although the partnership of the Philippines and Canada started way back in 1949, the diplomatic relations between the two countries began only in May 1956 when the Philippine Consulate was opened in Vancouver, B.C. with Consul Gauttier F. Bisnar as Head of Post.

G.F.Bisnar, the first Philippine consul in Vancouver had a Ph.D in law from the University of Santo Tomas. After Vancouver he was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary with the power to negotiate treaties; one of his last official duties before retirement was to lead the Philippine delegation in its territorial claim to Sabah against Malaysia.

 

1 BisnarConsul G. F. Bisnar in 1956

 

The Vancouver Consulate was the very first Philippine foreign service post covering all of Canada for 15 years. It was upgraded to Consulate General on August 24, 1962 with Francisco O.  Oira as the first Consul General from December 17, 1962 to  August 03, 1968.   Its Consular Jurisdiction includes British Columbia, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories.

The current Consul General in Vancouver is Arlene T. Magno, a second-generation diplomat who began her career in 1997 after passing the Foreign Service Officers’ examination. Her previous foreign assignments were at the Philippine Embassy in Brunei Darussalam (2000-2007) and the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. (2009-2015).  She has a degree in AB Economics and Master’s in Public Administration, both from the University of the Philippines. 

On March 1, 1971, The Philippine Embassy in Ottawa was opened with Privado G. Jimenez as the first resident Philippine ambassador to Canada. It has consular jurisdiction over the following provinces and territory, namely: Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nunavut, Eastern Ontario, and the Ottawa-Gatineau Capital Region.

The Philippine Embassy in Ottawa is currently headed by Ambassador Maria Andrelita S. Austria, who was appointed to the position on November 8, 2022. Prior to becoming Ambassador, Austria, a career diplomat, served as Consul General at the Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver.Serving nearly a million Filipino  Canadians now, the Embassy's activities focus on fostering continuing relations between Filipinos in Canada and their home country.Two more Philippine Consulates General have been established since.


PCG Toronto

The PCG Toronto opened its doors to the public on September 5, 1978 with Consul Leovegildo Anolin as Acting Head of Post. It has consular jurisdiction over Ontario (except Eastern Ontario and Ottawa-Gatineau Capital Region), and  Manitoba. Its current Consul General is Angelica Escalona.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of Philippine-Canada relations, PCG Toronto plans a Eucharistic  event, a film festival,  a sports competition, a musical event in Winnipeg and the lighting of landmarks in Ontario and Manitoba  in the colors of the Philippine and Canadian flags.  Activities organized by various Filipino community organizations include the unveiling a Dr. Jose Rizal monument across the famous Niagara  falls.


PCG Calgary

The Philippine Consulate General Calgary was established on February 27, 2016 and became the fourth Philippine Foreign Service Post in Canada with jurisdiction over Alberta and Saskatchewan. The current Consul General is Zaldy B. Patron.

Although opened only in 2016, PCG Calgary based in Alberta has been busy preparing for the   Phil-Can 75th anniversary. Aside from joining the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa and the PCG in Vancouver and Toronto at the lighting ceremony of landmarks across Canada, the PCG Calgary will spearhead the 3rd Filipino Restaurant Month in Canada in April 2024.This popular event is also held by PCG in Toronto and Vancouver at the same time every year.

In June 2024, the PCG Calgary will organize a one-month painting exhibit featuring the Filipino-Canadian artists based in Edmonton. This event will also celebrate the Philippine Independence Day on 12 June, the Philippine Heritage Month during the whole month of June as well as the 75th Anniversary milestone.

The 75th Anniversary celebration will also be incorporated in the 2nd Conference on Filipino Language and Culture to be organized jointly with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Filipino Teachers  Association in Alberta.

Lastly, the PCG Calgary will highlight the 75th Anniversary celebration in the lectures to be delivered in the Philippine Studies Lectureship Program at the University of Alberta throughout 2024.


Canadian Embassy in the Philippines

Located in Makati City, Canada’s Embassy in the  Philipppines, was opened in 1971.  Today it also maintains a consulate in Cebu City. David Hartman, the current Canadian ambassador to the Philippines considers the ever-increasing people to-people links between Canada and the Philippines vital to the growth of both societies. To celebrate the 75the anniversary of Phil-Canada relations in 2024, the embassy is planning a series of activities including a seafood festival to celebrate the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on defense cooperation between the Philippines and Canada. 

Canada and the Philippines are currently negotiating a free trade agreement. They held in February 2023 the inauguration of the Joint Economic Commission. This newly established bilateral mechanism provides a useful high-level forum to advance trade and investment issues of mutual interest.

Canada and the Philippines share a long-standing partnership in international assistance cooperation. Since 1986, Canada has provided over $1 billion in official development assistance (ODA) to the Philippines averaging $24 million over the last five years.

In November 2022, Canada launched its Indo-Pacific Strategy – a ten-year commitment that will guide Canada’s engagement with this important region for decades to come. The Philippines, being at the heart of the Indo-Pacific region, is a priority partner for Canada in its Indo-Pacific Strategy. 


Editor of Canadian Filipino Net
Eleanor R. Laquian has written four best-selling books, and co-authored four others with husband Prod Laquian. She has served in various capacities at the University of British Columbia’s Institute of Asian Research as manager of administration and programs; editor and chair, publications committee; and primary researcher of the Asian Immigration to Canada project. She has a degree in journalism from Maryknoll College in the Philippines, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of the Philippines. She did postgraduate studies at the School of Public Communications,  Boston University in the U.S.


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