Filipinos in Manitoba kick off PH Heritage Week
WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba kicked off the celebration of Philippine Heritage Week on June 9 at the Philippine Canadian Center of Manitoba.
The celebration began with the flag-raising ceremony and singing of the Philippine and Canadian national anthems, followed by a cultural program with performances from local artists, Highlights Performing Group, and April Llave.
Bannering the theme “Stronger Together,” to commemorate the 120thAnniversary of Philippine Independence as well as the friendship between the Philippines and Canada, the week-long celebration features an “Evening with Lolos and Lolas” on June 11, cultural exchange between Filipino and Chinese communities on June 12, Cultural Night organized by the Manitoba Association of Filipino Teachers on June 13, Celebration of Faith on June 14, and the Philippine Independence Ball on June 15.
Philippine Heritage Week, initiated by the Philippine Consulate in 1981 and sustained by the Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba, has become a yearly tradition anticipated by Filipino Canadians, newcomers, and first-time visitors to Canada.
In her welcome remarks, Perla Javate, president of PHCM, said that the Philippine Heritage Week is also a time to celebrate being Filipino Canadians. She said, “We are blessed to belong to one of the best countries in the world. This is where our children are born. Canada is their home and our home now. Let us accept and embrace everyone in our community, young and old, newcomer or old timer, gay or straight, aboriginal, immigrant or refugee, regardless of political or religious affiliation, or color of skin. This is what makes us a beautiful people. This is what makes us Canadians.”
June 12 is equally memorable for Javate, for it is also the anniversary of her immigration to Canada. In 2016, she was named among the top 25 Canadian immigrants by Royal Bank of Canada, in honor of her years of service working to preserve and promote Philippine culture.
Why celebrate Philippine Heritage Week? Araceli Ancheta, PHCM secretary, said: “Philippine Heritage Week encourages us to know our background. Our traditions are part of our identity as Filipinos. It is a way of saying that although we are here in Canada, we are here as Filipinos and we have a culture to share with the Canadians and the rest of the world.”
April Llave, born and raised in Canada, agrees that it is important to celebrate Philippine heritage: “Celebrating Heritage Week allows us to share our culture and traditions with others, especially those who don’t know us. It is important for us to celebrate our heritage because we should be proud to be Filipino Canadians.” April is a local professional singer who is pursuing a career as flight attendant.
Tess Aiello, recruitment consultant at Royal Bank of Canada, added, “Canada is well represented by so many different cultures. The best part of Philippine Heritage Week is that it is a week-long celebration to show that you are proud to be a Filipino, whether you are born here or came here to immigrate.”
For Edwin Madera, engineer-in-training under Engineers and Geoscientist Manitoba, Heritage Week is also a recognition of Filipino Canadians’ contribution to Canadian development. He affirms that Filipinos are professional and have exemplary work ethic. They are hardworking so companies like to employ Filipino workers.
During the kick-off ceremony and cultural presentation, messages of support were provided by government and business representatives: Hon. Ronald Opina, Honorary Consul for Business; Hon. Kevin Lamoreaux, Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader and Chairperson of Canada-Philippines Interparliamentary Friendship Group; Hon. Cathy Cox, Minister of Sports and Multiculturalism; and Councilor Cindy Gilroy of Daniel McIntyre Ward. The program was emceed by Cese Berces and Gani Casalla.
The Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba comprises individuals and representatives from different Filipino Canadian organizations and associations.