Filipinos come together to celebrate bayanihan


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The flag of the Philippines was proudly raised at the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba Saturday. Then, in the true spirit of the city’s Filipino community, everyone gathered for breakfast.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/06/2022 (363 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The flag of the Philippines was proudly raised at the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba Saturday. Then, in the true spirit of the city’s Filipino community, everyone gathered for breakfast.

It was an apt start to Filipino Heritage Month, celebrated every June in Canada. Manitoba is home to the largest Filipino population per capita in Canada, and with that comes a big responsibility for the local centre to host the biggest and most extravagant celebrations they can.

Planning is underway for this coming weekend to be dedicated to recognizing the Philippines’ independence.

“It’s an opportunity for other Canadians in other multicultural communities to come and learn about the culture of the Philippines,” centre president Virgie Gayot told the Free Press.

“We’re going to showcase some cultural dances. We’re going to have songs, folk songs, and, of course the main one is the eating of Filipino delicacies.”

June 12 in the Philippines is recognized as the “Day of Freedom.” It marks the independence of the Philippines from Spain in 1898, and is important to Filipino Manitobans, Gayot said.

“It’s very important for us. We are not being colonized by other countries, we are not being enslaved by other countries. We have our own constitution, our own governance, and our own leaders,” she said.

“We have the independence in our own country, and we will showcase our own culture, our own heritage.”

The weekend starts with an evening of classical singing June 11. Tickets are $10, with funds going to maintenance of the centre’s building, and the theme is the evolution of kundiman, which are Filipino love songs.

Keeping history in the celebratory weekend is a crucial aspect, said Dante Aviso, chair of events and programs, especially considering this is the first Filipino Heritage Month since COVID-19 restrictions were loosened.

“It’s important, not only to the Filipinos, but to the (wider) community because it brings recognition to the contributions of the Filipino community in the social fabric and economic makeup of the country,” he said.

The Sunday picnic will be hosted on the centre grounds (737 Keewatin St.), and Aviso said he estimates as many as 500 people will attend. With those kinds of numbers, planning is intense: karaoke, live music, and — a big pull for the community — 10 suckling pigs, called lechons.

“It’s just like going to somebody’s picnic, crashing on somebody’s picnic, that kind of thing,” he laughs. “But we welcome everyone because we want to show that Filipino hospitality.”

Hospitality is a core tenant of Filipino culture, Aviso said, and that inspires the way the Winnipeg community gathers. There’s a name for it: bayanihan, which means a spirit of unity, and working together toward a common goal without expecting a reward.

The hope is that the picnic, which is free, can support the community in multiple ways. It’s an opportunity for the centre and other community groups to find new volunteers, for business owners to network, and Filipino Winnipeggers — be they Canadian-born or new to the country — to meet or reunite.

“There are Filipino newcomers (that) don’t know anybody from the community, and this is the venue for them, where they can meet people, socialize with them,” he said.

Malak Abas

Malak Abas

Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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