The latter part of June saw the staging of SALUDO, the first online summit of Filipino community leaders. Over 25 representatives of Filipino community organizations from across Canada took part in the historic online event that aimed to connect the scattered organizations and establish a working arrangement to promote Philippine culture and heritage, and matters relevant to the Filipino community in Canada.
The online summit was convened by Paulina Corpuz, in celebration of June as Filipino Heritage Month across Canada, and partly as a response to the restrictions on large physical gatherings. Corpuz is the initiator of the signature campaign that eventually led to the passage of the Filipino Heritage Month Act of 2017. Collaborating with her on the technical and promotional aspects of the summit were Al Landingin and Joey Moreno of East Coast Filipino Portal (ECFP), a kababayan social media entity based in Halifax, N.S., Georelle Mendoza of Filipino Canadian Students Association (FILCASA), Corpuz’ Philippine Advancement Through Arts and Culture (PATAC), and Barangay Canada, the media project co-founded by this writer.
The event took place on Sunday, June 28 and ran from 6 PM to 9:30 PM Central. The Zoom live stream was hosted by ECFP from Halifax and was shared on the Facebook pages and walls of the various participants. The program kicked off with a video montage of selected participants passing a miniature Philippine flag across the screen and highlighting a particular Philippine custom such as Bayanihan, respect for elders through ‘pagmamano’ and replying with ‘po’ and ‘opo’, and so forth.
The montage was followed by a keynote message from Corpuz and then a sequence of introductions from each participant as they gave a 2-minute overview of the organization that they represented. The complete list of participants can be viewed on the Filipino Heritage Month Facebook Page or on the event webpage of Barangay Canada at https://barangaycanada.com/blog/saludo-1st-virtual-summit-of-filipino-leaders-in-canada.
The summit culminated in an open forum which mainly tackled how the assembled group will move forward and work together for the Filipino Heritage Month in the coming years. There was unanimous agreement among the participants to establish a coalition of all represented groups that will coordinate and collaborate to make future celebrations of Filipino Heritage even better and more engaging. The coalition identified its immediate goal was to create a Facebook group that would serve as a regular discussion area. The consensus was to create a related Facebook group from the existing Filipino Heritage Month Facebook page.
As June wrapped up to give way to the 153rd celebration of Canada Day, the Barangay Canada vodcast featured Karla Atanacio of the Winnipeg-based Aksyon Ng Ating Kabataan or ANAK, as the special guest. She shared how her involvement with ANAK and the Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba came about. She also spoke about her experience participating in Pinoys on Parliament (POP), a national youth leadership conference for young Filipino-Canadians held in Ottawa, Ontario. Atanacio explains that through the contacts she made in POP, she became involved with the Youth Network of Kapit-Bisig Laban COVID which is currently gathering data on how the ongoing pandemic is affecting Filipino-Canadian Youth of age 13 to 29. For the month of June, Kapit-Bisig ran an online survey at https://kapitbisig.ca/youth-survey to gather responses from the said demographic.
From a personal perspective, Atanacio also shared about her experience living in Canada as a member of the 1.5 Generation, referring to the children of first generation immigrants who were born and raised partly in the Philippines and then migrated to Canada with their family and are still continuing to adjust to life in this country. Asked about her advice to first-generation immigrant parents about understanding their children more, Atanacio stated, “It’s tough to engage your parents or your elders about difficult conversations. Just be open and don’t be so dismissive about things. You sent us to school, you wanted us to have an education. Now let us educate you.”
Kris Ontong is the co-Founder of Barangay Canada and is a finalist in the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards for 2020