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FMAACI’s Filipino Canadian Folk Fest, ten years of music and service

by Levy Abad

    Daniel Tabo-oy Dario Javier
Daniel Tabo-oy & Dario Javier
Photo by John Lopez

After ten years of existence, the Filipino Music and Arts Association of Canada Inc. (FMAACI) held the Filipino Canadian Folk Music Festival at the FSG Winnipeg Event Hall, 49 Euclid Avenue, on February 3, 2024. The festival, supported by the Province of Manitoba’s Arts, Culture and Sport in Community (ACSC) Fund showcased Filipino culture and heritage, multiculturalism, and the call for peace in a troubled world.

FMAACI invited an array of artists who performed socially reflective songs. Among them were the group Double D, comprised of Daniel Tabo-oy Jr. and Dario Javier, who performed Bob Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind, and Nandita Selvanathan, who rendered a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, projecting Indian poetry at its best.

FMAACI friends, Cara Luft, a Juno awardee singer-songwriter, and instrumentalist performed her original songs.

Keri Latimer, another singer-songwriter, guitarist, and regular performer at the Winnipeg Folk Festival also performed. Keri was a member of the Juno awarded band Nathan in 2008.

Jeanette Kiamco Perez rendered a song on Philippine history – the discovery of the Philippines by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, its subsequent colonization, and the Filipino resistance.

Jojo Yso and Larry Velasco did covers and one socially critical song of Asin – Balita. Retro Divas presented a fun dance number.

Levy Abad performed a couple of migrant songs, depicting the journey and struggles of our people.

A raffle draw and ukulele jamming by the Ukulele Filipino Club closed the night activity.

The event was graced by leaders in the community like: Jelynn Dela Cruz, MLA for Radisson; Mintu Sandhu, MLA for Maples; David Pankratz, MLA for Waverly; Perla Javate, Chair of the Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba; Clarita Nazario, Past President of the Bulacan Association of Winnipeg and faithful promoter of Filipiniana costumes; Jun Isla, the tireless President of the Filipino Seniors Group of Winnipeg; and other guests.

One of the highlights was the presentation of a Bayanihan painting that depicts the Filipino spirit of unity and collaboration, to Mrs. Nazario, PHCM President Javate, and to MLA’s Dela Cruz and Pankratz, on behalf of the Province of Manitoba in recognition of their leadership in culture, music, and arts. The artwork was drawn by FMAACI board member Jogin Tamayo, who is a painter himself.

Approximately 200 attended the free event to enjoy and reflect on folk songs, as well as savour the great food served by Aida Champagne, a long-time leader of Filipino seniors and one of the founders of the Manitoba Filipino Street Festival. The night was hosted by Elmer Aquino and coordinated by Ernesto Ofiaza Jr. who also did a song rendition of the Treaty 1 land acknowledgment with his ukulele, and Denby Perez as stage manager.

FMAACI is composed of: Ernesto Nicolas Ofiaza Jr, President; Levy Abad, Vice President; Paige Dimayuga, Secretary; Jun Isla, Treasurer; Elmer Aquino, Auditor; and board members - Susan Dimayuga-Arcega, Daniel Tabo-oy Jr., Kris Ontong, Jogin Tamayo, Jet Tabuena, and Jeanette Kiamco Perez.

FMAACI would like to thank all the sponsors and partners. Without them, the event would not have been possible.