We are from a nation of 7, 641 islands, speaking 185 dialects learned from almost 4 centuries of foreign occupation and colonialism. These are the reasons why Filipinos are resilient, persevering, and hardworking. The entrenched poverty pushed us to work harder and explore opportunities even on foreign lands; left our families and found greener pastures.
Our culture then emboldened us to be migratory social beings.
Seven decades hence…
How and why has a nation with highly literate and industrious people, an Asian nation second only to Japan in terms of social and economic indicators in the early post-war period, been reduced to a country crushed by poverty, which has earned a dubious reputation for being the most significant source of caregivers and domestic workers around the world?
For Filipinos in Canada, a version of this haunting question might be: How and why have Filipinos, already the fourth largest visible minority group in Canada, remained invisible as a social and political force, as an overlooked strong professional force, yet visible as workers in the domestic-like service sector.
There’s a more prominent voice representing our “Bayanihan” spirit and strength of character.
Years ago, there had been provincial and municipal applications to recognize Filipino Heritage– they were fulfilled and celebrated in Alberta, Ontario, Calgary, Montreal, and Toronto.
We pay respect to the organizers and government supports. All of them had put the Filipino community on the map.
Everyone agrees that the Filipino community is the fastest growing ethnocultural community in each of the10 provinces and 3 territories in Canada. The Filipino community is one of the most diverse in terms of languages, professional backgrounds and cultural traditions.
Everyone agrees, too, that this exclusive kind of heritage celebration reflects on the many outstanding contributions Filipino Canadians have made in Canada, and in the world.
And each effort was one step closer to success. What about the whole Filipino-Canadian population of Canada?
But the GOOD always prevails. It was October 31, 2018, when M155 was passed—bar none. In a unanimous vote of 290 in favour and none against, the House of Commons of the Parliament of Canada adopted the Motion–declaring each year of June as Filipino Heritage Month throughout Canada—from coast to coast to coast.
The recognition was meant to enhance, empower and give each Filipino an opportunity to come together in solidarity and support for one another; to celebrate our accomplishments, to enrich and uphold the culture from which we have emerged, and to flourish and contribute within this beautiful Canadian cultural mosaic. The opportunity is too real that today is the time to become socially-connected, engaged with the government policies, supportive of the OFWs who are still struggling to adapt here.
With this recognition, we needed a united front to give a louder voice for Filipino Canadians numbering to almost 900,000 in Canada.
We need Filipino leaders with an untainted reputation. Leaders who do the deed, not the lip service. New attitude, a new mindset, new ways to make things happen.
We’ll make our first celebration of June as the National heritage month as the emblem of our strength. June 2019 also marks the 70th diplomatic and bilateral relations between Canada and the Philippines. We’ll give it a boost in the coming years.
Our fellow Filipinos in other provinces have been making waves, building bridges and most of all- DELIVER. That’s the mark of a strong foundation. No one’s a hotshot. No one, a minion.
Our “successfully” ever after begins on June 1, 2019, our first ever nationwide celebration of our Heritage that even our children will be proud of.
We shall inspire success through a unified community…
Spring forward everyone! Mabuhay!
By M. de Jesus, in a speech spoken before the Filipino leaders and government officials at the Meet and Greet/ Launch of the Filipino Heritage celebration on June 1, 2019