By Derick Ramos
On Sunday, February 9, 2014 at the Filipino Senior Citizens Hall, members of the Filipino community converged in the inaugural Filipino Town Hall Meeting to discuss the issues that they faced and worked together to generate possible solutions. One of the catalysts of the meeting for it to be held was the mishandling of relief funds raised during Typhoon Haiyan by the Philippines Community Centre of Manitoba. The delay in sending the money seemed to awaken a dormant Filipino community that triggered passionate discussions and strong ideas at the meeting and possibly taking steps towards unifying Filipinos across Manitoba.
Manitoba Filipino Business Council President, Jon Reyes, was the emcee of the meeting and presented questions and concerns that he received via an online survey. He also quickly diffused any possible name calling or shooting down anyone’s opinion which showed that the meeting was all about respect to one another. There were no pitchforks or torches at this meeting. No hired security. It was a trust amongst one another to find solutions in a civilized manner.
With over 100 people showing up for the meeting, group discussions were held to discuss aspects on how to make the future for Filipinos a brighter one, for this generation and the next. One common theme was how to regain the trust with the PCCM, whose board members were invited to attend the meeting but could not attend due to various reasons. The PCCM has been regarded as the face of the Filipino community but with recent events, a trust with the public was lost. That trust, however, is not beyond repair.
The meeting was a display of what Filipinos are capable of working hand in hand. Productive brainstorming of what approaches are feasible and what can be done to leave the Filipino youth of today in a strong position to not only reach their goals but surpass them. The progressive thinking of many that attended laid the groundwork for not only dealing with past and present problems but for future ones as well.
Some questions could not be fully answered but many leaders stepped up and reassured that they would try to get the answers they wanted. There were politicians, business owners, entrepreneurs, and concerned citizens that were willing to take those difficult first steps to make sure questions were answered.
Trust takes forever to earn and just a blink of an eye to lose. There are Filipino leaders who have accepted the challenge and are willing to meet the PCCM half way to discuss the issues that the community is facing in a civilized and a proactive manner. To make the Filipino community a more unified one, pride and ego should be left at the door by all parties. The legacy that this generation leaves will be inherited by our children, the future generation and that is more than enough reason to start working together. The question is: Will the Philippines Community Centre of Manitoba accept the challenge?
Photos by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal