Filipino cultural hub opens in Toronto
TORONTO, Ontario– The opening of Sentro Rizal Toronto a full month before the June 12 Philippine Independence Day celebration served as the kick off of festivities in this city.
Projected as a cultural hub and resource center for Philippine culture, arts, and language, Sentro Rizal Toronto joins a network of more than 20 global locations, among them Ottawa, Phnom Penh, Myanmar, and Seoul. The creation of Sentros Rizal is mandated by Republic Act No. 10066 (National Heritage Act of 2009) section 42.
The target clients of the Sentros are children of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and “developed countries where there are large Filipino communities.”
The Sentros Rizal aim “to bring heritage closer to overseas Filipino communities by implementing cultural literacy projects and activities, including up-to-date information about the Philippines. Such activities are envisioned to deepen and enhance understanding of the Philippines and her culture, foster mutual understanding between Filipinos and other nationals of countries where they reside, and develop culturally literate communities of Filipinos overseas,” according to the Sentro Rizal Handbook.
Virgilio Almario, National Artist for Literature and chair of the Philippine National Commission for Culture and the Arts (PNCCA) was guest of honor and keynote speaker at the event held at the Philippine Consulate General in midtown Toronto last May 12. Almario, who also leads the Commission on the Filipino Language, signed the Sentro into existence under a Memorandum of Understanding with Rosalita Prospero, Consul General in Toronto.
Children of the Philippine diaspora “need to be educated about their roots,” said Almario. “Second and third generation Filipinos need to learn about Philippine culture, which includes her history, arts, and languages,” he added.
“Why Rizal?” Almario asked the audience of Filipino Canadian community leaders and guests. “Why not Andres Bonifacio or other leaders of the Philippine Revolution?” He answered his own rhetorical question: “Because Rizal is multifaceted, multiskilled, spoke several languages, and changed our history through his written works. He proved the pen is mightier than the sword,” Almario stated.
Filipino communities abroad are true children of Rizal, Almario added, because they are flexible and adaptable, multiskilled and lovers of education. “In the Philippines, parents would pawn their fields, sell their livestock, and work their fingers to the bone, to get their children educated,” he mused.
As set out by RA No. 10066 and its Implementing Regulations Section 51, Sentros Rizal will serve as (1) Filipino language learning centers; (2) Philippine cultural resources centers: and (3) Philippine cultural hubs overseas.
The Sentros Rizal will offer visitors a library with collections of resource materials on Philippine art, culture, languages, tourism, and investment in the form of print and electronic media that will be made available to all audiences, both Filipino and non-Filipino.
There will also be a vast array of cultural activities, e.g., lecture series on Philippine culture and heritage; art, photography, and handicraft exhibits/activities; film screenings; cooking lectures/demonstrations; creative workshops (performing, visual, literary arts); cultural performances; poetry readings/tertullias, storytelling, and other literary events; and celebrations of Philippine national holidays.
Sentro Rizal Toronto is located at the Consulate General of the Philippines, 160 Eglinton Avenue East. Please call 416 355 2779 or go to www.philcongen-toronto.com for visiting hours.