A colorful parade of various Filipino groups kicked off the 124th anniversary celebration of Philippine Independence Day in Vancouver.
The celebration was made more special with the official launch of a bayanihan campaign to help build a Filipino cultural center in Vancouver. The project is led by the Mabuhay House Society, a non-profit organization made up of young Filipino Canadians.
“Panahon na [It’s time] really come together to work towards realizing this dream of ours and show elected officials, other supporters and advocates that we need their help to make this a reality,” said Maita Santiago of the Mabuhay House Society.
Santiago said his dream was to have a multipurpose center where local celebrations and cultural performances, among other gatherings, could take place.
“We envision a cross-cultural, open and inclusive welcome center that is also a home. A place where we can come together to do everything from your local celebration to your group gathering, from cultural performances to childcare, hopefully, to housing.”
Portliving CEO Macario ‘Tobi’ Reyes said he would provide the space for the Philippine center on a property his company is developing. He added that if they are able to get all the permits, they could start construction within the next two years. Reyes hopes the centre, which will be at least 30,000 square feet in size, will help connect Vancouver-born Filipinos to their heritage.
“I hope it will do for them what Canada has done for me in general. Which is to give them a way to grow in the community and enjoy their lives in a different way than they probably would have imagined without the Filipino center,” Reyes said.
Philippine Consul General Maria Andrelita Austria, a member of the society’s advisory board, also hopes the center will ensure young Filipinos stay connected to their roots.
“We would like the younger generation to be in touch with their roots and engage in activities in the community,” she said.
The construction of a Filipino community center in Metro Vancouver has had its share of controversy since the 1980s. Community leader Salve Dayao, who was among those raising funds in 1986, said that this money was gone.
Dayao hope, “yung in the past, makuha yun, ma-retrieve yong pera na yun, makatulong dito sa ginagawa ng mga kabataan [what happened in the past, we’ll be able to get it back, we’ll be able to retrieve the money, so it can help the project of these young people].”
For his part, Mable Elmore, Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, assured the community that there will be more transparency this time around. The Philippine legislator actively supported the new initiative.
“You’ve seen our board members in terms of the integrity of the people involved, as well as expectations around reporting, financial accountability, transparency. We have accountants and I’m very Glad the Filipino Accountants Association came forward and volunteered to help us. I’m really going to ask the community to support us at all levels,” Elmore said.
Federal, provincial and municipal officials who attended the celebration have already shown their support for the proposed Philippine cultural center.
Filipino Canadians, Filipino community, Filipino cultural center, Filipino workers abroad, immigrants, Vancouver, TFC News