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It's All History by Jon Malek

MAFTI cultural event in celebration

of Filipino Heritage Month

by Jon G. Malek

Malek Fig 1 Malek Fig 2

June has always been an active time for the Filipino community in Manitoba as Philippine independence and Filipino culture are celebrated. Since 1962, June 12 has been celebrated as Philippine Independence Day, commemorating the moment in 1898 when Emilio Aguinaldo declared the first Philippine Republic from Cavite as American forces began their occupation of the island nation. Recent years has seen the recognition of this event and of Filipino contributions to Canadian society with the declaration of June as Philippine heritage month by both the Canadian and Manitoba governments.

On June 4, 2022, members of the Filipino community in Winnipeg came to the Philippine Cultural Centre of Manitoba (737 Keewatin Street) for a daylong celebration to kick off June celebrations. The Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba (PHCM) organized the Flag-Raising Ceremony at 8:30 a.m. This was followed by a series of remarks from a series of speakers including Ms. Perla Javate, President of the PHCM, and Hon. Consul General Orontes V. Castro.

After a brief rest, MAFTI presented a cultural event starting 2:00 p.m., also at the PCCM. Filipino teachers in Manitoba act as both preservers and practitioners of Philippine culture in Canada, and under the leadership of its president, Genalyn Tan and its cohort of leaders, MAFTI has spent the last few years of the pandemic carrying this torch in its online heritage classes. One of MAFTI’s first in-person cultural events since the end of the pandemic was thus bursting with pride, talent, and national sentiment.

The cultural event began with a Doxology (Doksolohiya) by the Filipino Heritage Teachers of MAFTI. These teachers led five online heritage classes with dozens of students, both Filipino and non-Filipino. Each class presented well-rehearsed activities including reading written statements in Filipino, the singing of Ako’y Pinoy by Florante, and other acts. The students of the Adult Filipino classes (Levels 1-3) also performed culminating activities including Rekonsilyasyon, a reflection piece prepared and read by Filipino 3 student Malaya Marcelino, MLA for Notre Dame.

These performances were followed by the awarding of certificates to all students in recognition of their hard work and dedication to their classes. Students had the chance to have a photo op with their teacher, and parents and guardians were able to cheer them on as they walked on stage. This event was picked up by OMNI News:

As a non-Filipino member of the Winnipeg Filipino community, it was both an honour and a delight to be included in these festivities. As a board member of MAFTI, I was so pleased to witness the success and achievements of MAFTI’s teachers and their dedicated students. Mabuhay sa MAFTI, at sa lahat ng Pilipino sa Winnipeg!

The same evening, members of MAFTI attended the annual and very well attended Philippine Independence Ball. MAFTI congratulates all who participated in the day’s celebrations, and to the PHCM for hosting an excellent series of events.

Jon Malek received his PhD from Western University and currently teaches history at the University of Manitoba. He is working on a book manuscript on the history of the Winnipeg Filipino community.