Church, community mark PH Heritage Month in Toronto

Paulina Corpuz receives award from Cardinal Collins, for her work in spearheading the movement to have June declared as Philippine Heritage Month, as Trustee Garry Tanuan look on. INQUIRER/Marisa Roque

TORONTO — His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, graced a first ever Filipino community networking event and dinner to celebrate the first anniversary of Filipino Heritage Day and Month at the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB).

Held at the Catholic Education Center on 80 Sheppard Avenue East, the event served to highlight June 12 as a board-proclaimed Filipino Heritage Day, coinciding with Philippine Independence Day.

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As the TCDSB 2018 Proclamation stated: “WHEREAS: Toronto is home to almost 300,000 Canadians of Filipino descent… (and) have contributed in enriching the diversity and social fabric not only in this region of Ontario but also across Canada.  A vast majority of Filipino children attend the Toronto Catholic District School Board.”

St. Paschal Baylon students perform a poignant poem about how to deal with a hyphenated identity. INQUIRER/Marisa Roque

The Proclamation went on: “The Philippines’ rich cultural heritage and vibrant passion for our Catholic faith greatly enhance the TCDSB’s Mission and Vision which would encourage and engage our Catholic schools especially those with plans to offer in-school events during the June Filipino Heritage Month and throughout the year….. now therefore, be it resolved that The Toronto Catholic District School Board hereby proclaims June as Filipino Heritage Month and June 12 as Filipino Heritage Day.”

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The document was signed in 2018 by Rory McGuckin, Director of Education, Barbara Poplawski, Chair of the Board, Garry Tanuan, Trustee Ward 8, and the late Rosalita Prospero, Philippine Consul General.

Maria Guiao is awarded for helping newcomers to Canada, especially students, to integrate, engage and advance in their new environments, through her organization Filipino Canadian Community House. INQUIRER/Marisa Roque

The evening celebrated the intersection of Filipino culture, heritage and faith, and various organizations linked up with the TCDSB to make it happen: Catholic Teachers Center (CTC), Toronto Catholic Parent Involvement Committee (CPIC), Filipino Advisory Committee (FAC), and Community Relations Department, Filipino-Canadian Parents Association in Catholic Education (FCPACE), and the Filipino Heritage Council of Canada.  Selected students from St. Ignatius of Loyola performed native dances and St. Paschal Baylon students entertained the guests with a speech choir presentation.

Speakers Manny Lim (FCPACE President and FHCC Director), John Del Grande (Toronto CPIC Chair), Maria Rizzo (TCDSB Chair), Rory McGuckin (TCDSB Director), and Garry Tanuan (Trustee Ward 8) spoke on a theme of being united in spirit and purpose, where all “aspire to do our best, in our place in the world, sharing our cultures in our communities.”

His Eminence Cardinal Collins, the keynote speaker, drew everyone’s attention when he began his talk with three simple but profound questions: “Who is God? Who am I? Who is my neighbor?” and linked those thoughts with one’s head, heart, and hands. Cardinal Collins spoke of “dimensions to our faith, where the head helps us know where we are going, the heart gives us the emotional component, and the hands point us to areas where we can serve.”

Art educator and author Dr. Marissa Largo receives award for developing culturally relevant curriculum, from TCDSB Chair Maria Rizzo. INQUIRER/Marisa Roque

This is in contrast to a “me, myself, and I point of view–the unholy Trinity,” adds Cardinal Collins.

A formal sit-down dinner capped the event, where several education leaders were recognized for their contributions in culturally relevant curriculum development, student engagement, parental engagement, cultural and heritage celebration, Catholic faith formation, and excellence in service to newcomers.

St. Ignatius of Loyola students get ready to dance. INQUIRER/Marisa Roque

Maria Guiao and Joseph Redoblado emceed the event.

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Sponsors include the Toronto Catholic District School Board, Toronto CPIC, FCPACE, Filipino Canadian Community House, Filipino Heritage Month, Action HONDA, and The Sandbanks Cottages and Campsites.

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TAGS: Archbishop of Toronto, Filipino community networking Filipino Heritage Day and Month, Filipinos in Toronto, Thomas Cardinal Collins, Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB)
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