"This is our opportunity to showcase our culture and share it with the community," says Perla Javate, president of the Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba, one of 24 organizations that helped to co-ordinate and sponsor the event.
From June 6 to 12, Winnipeg's Filipino community celebrated the 106th anniversary of their native country's independence.
In Winnipeg, that celebration started June 6 with an opening ceremony at Daniel McIntyre Collegiate.
"We opened with the Philippine Veterans Association parading the colours," says Javate, adding that after a proclamation of Philippine Heritage Week by Labour and Immigration (and multiculturalism) Minister Nancy Allan, the attendees heard welcoming remarks by several dignitaries. Among them were Honorary Consul General Roland Guzman from the Philippine government, Winnipeg North MP Dr. Rey Pagtakhan, and Coun. Mike Pagtakhan (Point Douglas).
"It was very nice," says Javate. "fterwards we had a bit of a party."
The opening ceremony launched a week's worth of events that showcased many different aspects of Filipino culture. After the ceremony, an evening event called A Celebration of Faith, which took place at Church of Living Hope, highlighted the religious side of Filipino culture.
However, Javate says much of the evening of worship and prayer was reserved for the people of the Philippines who are having to deal with the violence and turmoil brought on by the country's national election, which took place in early May.
"Right now there is no proclaimed president," she says, adding she is confident the political unrest will be resolved and that the Philippines will continue its century-old tradition of strong independence. "We want (the Philippines) to remain free."
Another highlight of the week was Sama-Sama night at St. John's High School on June 8. Javate says that sama-sama can be translated as meaning togetherness, which was an apt description of the multi-generational learning event co-ordinated by the Filipino Youth Initiative.
"(The event was) very relaxed and fun, and well attended by youth and adults," explains Javate.
Aside from live entertainment, there was plenty of dancing, including a demonstration of the Philippine national folk dance, tinikling.
"There was also the opportunity to learn basics of martial arts and the Filipino hackey sack called sipa," says Javate. "There was also a demonstration on how the use of theatre can convey messages and can address intergenerational issues."
The Philippine Heritage Council president says inter-generational events are important because they help convey the value of Filipino culture to the Filipino youth.
"When we have the involvement of young people, it just feels good. Then the community is complete," says Javate.
The week ended in grand style with the formal Philippine-Canadian Ball at Fort Garry Place on Friday night, followed by a picnic at Assiniboine Park on Saturday afternoon.
PHOTO MIKE DEAL/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS