FMAACI’s Filipino Canadian Folk Fest, Ten Years of Music and Service

By Levy Abad

After ten years of existence, the Filipino Music and Arts Association of Canada Inc. (FMAACI) successfully launched one of its programs, 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.

Founded on August 2014, FMAACI is a federally registered non-profit organization based in Winnipeg whose aim is to explore and develop unique and creative approaches in the preservation, promotion, and blending of Filipino music and arts in the multicultural environment of Canada (FMAACI website).

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. So was Keri Latimer, another singer-songwriter, and guitarist, who is a regular performer at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Keri was a member of a Juno awardee 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 Diva presented a fun dance number. Lastly, 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 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 its highlights is the presentation of a Bayanihan painting that depicts the Filipino spirit of unity and collaboration, to Mrs. Nazario, PHCM President Javate, and to MLA Dela Cruz and Pankratz on behalf of the Province of Manitoba, recognizing 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 the sponsors and partners. Without them, the event would not have been possible: Filipino Journal, Pampanga Restaurant, Kabalen Restaurant and Catering Services, Pilipino Express, Ethnorama News Winnipeg, Filipino Seniors Group Winnipeg, Aroma Restaurant, Ukulele Filipino Club, Mrs. R. Bakery, Kangen Water MB, John Lopez Photography, Alex Canlapan Photography, Bobbit Nepomuceno for the sound mix, and Clarita Nazario, Allan and Maileen Pamplona for the raffle prizes.

Photo Credit John Lopez