On June 27th, 2023, the Philippine Centre Canada (PCC) hosted a unique event at the Rideau Community Hub to celebrate Multiculturalism Day, one of a series of events under the umbrella of Celebrate Canada that culminated in the celebration of Canada Day (July 1). Multiculturalism Day is a time of celebrating our nation’s diversity and sharing Filipino culture with other cultures in Canada. With the funding support of the Canadian Heritage, the PCC collaborated with Filipino-Canadian (FilCan) community organizations and businesses to create an ‘interactive museum’ for the day. It was a museum because it showcased Filipino traditions – music and dance, Balagtasan (debate done in verse), palaro (games), and of course, food. Visitors to the event experienced diverse interactive and informative activities that highlighted different aspects of Filipino culture. There were various live performances, such as traditional Filipino dance performances, singing of classical and pop music, and palaro. Participants also had a chance to interact with the history and culture of the Philippines in a playful way, through hands-on workshops on parol-aking (lantern) and cooking demonstration.
The program emcee, Regina Sosing, opened the event by talking about PCC’s mission of bridging Philippine and Canadian cultures. After singing the national anthems of both countries and acknowledging that the City of Ottawa is built on un-ceded and un-surrendered Algonquin Anishinaabe territory, Lota Bertulfo, PCC Chair, welcomed the guests and participants. She acknowledged the presence of former Board members of PCC, the members of the Ottawa Valley Filipino-Canadian Seniors Association, new PCC members, the current Board members, performers, and other guests. The celebration continued with a Balagtasan by Maura David, Art Guillermo, and Dan de Castro. Afterwards, Cory Mae Omega, PCC staff, led a group singing of Filipino songs. After the group was warmed up, the Philippine Dance Troupe of Ottawa performed their dance pieces – Maglalatik , Tag-araw, Pandanggo, Subli, Binasuán, Tinikling, and Tinikling clappers. After the performance, the dancers allowed the audience to learn the dance steps and coached them to get the moves correctly. Attendees took a well-deserved snack break afterward at the designated food station. The celebration continued with a cooking demonstration of chicken adobo by Rosalina Cionelo, and a parol-making activity by Ed and Nejie Escares. The audience was then treated to a demonstration of traditional Filipino games, “palaro” by Jillian Infante. The games included luksong tinik (jumping over a thorn) and sipa (kick).
The audience feasted on pancit, empanada, and popular Philippine snacks or desserts halo-halo, suman, puto, bibingka. PCC’s Ugnayan Fund recipients – Anakbayan, Kabangka, and Migrante displayed materials that show their work. Classy and Sassy, an event-organizing small business owned by Janet Pangilinan, showed a sample of its quality décor. Pamela Tumbaga made sure that the attendees went home with an event photo souvenir, After the singing of Bayan Ko (My Country) by the audience, the event was officially closed by Shaila Safaee Chalkasra, PCC Board member and flowers were given to co-organizers: Regina Sosing, Mary Formoso, and Janet Pangilinan. The celebration was a success in bringing Filipino Canadians closer to their Filipino culture as well as Canada’s cultural diversity.
The PCC hopes that the event will be the first of many successful Multiculturalism Day celebrations and that Canadians and Filipino-Canadians will continue to celebrate cultural diversity, from June 27, 2023 and beyond.