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PCC at the Philippine Embassy

The PCC was represented by Lota Bertulfo, Chairperson, Rudy Sabas, Shaila Safaee Chalkasra, Adonis Sucalit, Manny Beloy, Amelita Armit, and staff – Ethel Maamo and Kyrah Miranda.

“Strengthening Ties: A Meeting with 
 Philippine Embassy Officials Led by Ambassador to Canada 
 Hon. Maria Andrelita S. Austria

On May 2, six Philippine Centre Canada (PCC) Board members and two staff paid a courtesy call on Philippine Ambassador to Canada Hon. Maria Andrelita S. Austria in Ottawa. The meeting was attended by other Philippine Embassy officials. The PCC was represented by Lota Bertulfo, Chairperson, Rudy Sabas, Shaila Safaee Chalkasra, Adonis Sucalit, Manny Beloy, Amelita Armit, and staff – Ethel Maamo and Kyrah Miranda. They discussed how the PCC has been working to empower the Filipino-Canadian community in the National Capital Region. 

The Board briefed the Ambassador on the history and current activities of PCC. While the original objective of PCC was to own a physical facility (a ‘Philippine center’) in Ottawa where the Filipino community can gather and conduct their activities, this idea is now shelved in view of the availability of physical facilities in Ottawa owned by different institutions that the Filipino community may utilize, and the difficulty of achieving this original objective without external funding support despite numerous fundraising efforts in the past. In addition, the PCC Board understands that the goal of owning a physical facility is unachievable in a few years. In order to keep the community’s trust and optimism alive, the PCC Board established the Ugnayan Fund (UF) in 2019 to give back to the community half of the funds raised in the past, which was $50,000 at that time.  

The Board also informed the Ambassador of PCC’s capability-building activities such as the Pilipino, English, and French classes language and computer literacy courses in the past, the digital literacy training for seniors, and entrepreneurship training for Filipino-Canadian youth. Thanks to the success in obtaining government grants, PCC has been able to reach out to other FilCan organizations and partner with them to create new projects and initiatives that benefit the FilCan community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, PCC was able to serve about 890 FilCan households by giving them Filipino food (dried) packages (Salamat box) and care packages (virus protection goods such as masks and sanitizers). This assistance was intended to mitigate the negative economic and social impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable segments of the FilCan community, specifically seniors and those in the caregiving and service sectors. 

The Ambassador was pleased to learn about PCC’s programs and accomplishments and the idea of having a Philippine center in Ottawa. She encouraged the Board to explore the possibilities of securing support from the Canadian government and other sources to realize this dream. 

Filipinos are the fastest-rising immigrant population in Canada, yet the Filipino community does not have a voice in many aspects of Canadian society. PCC proudly carries out a mission to empower and motivate Filipino Canadians to take part in mainstream Canadian society. 

The meeting between the Philippine Ambassador to Canada and the PCC was a productive one. The Ambassador showed his support and commitment to the work of PCC and its mission to provide assistance to the Filipino-Canadian community. It was also discussed how the Philippine Embassy has taken notice of the needs of Filipino international students. The Embassy asked PCC whether it was interested to partner with them in organizing a conference to tackle topics such as legal obligations and rights of international students, where and how to access services within the schools and the city, student visa extension, eligibility requirements for jobs and getting a permanent resident status, and the Embassy’s consular services. PCC eagerly and unhesitatingly accepted this request. 

The PCC thanks Ambassador Hon. Maria Andrelita S. Austria and other Philippine Embassy officials for a productive meeting.  The PCC looks forward to continuing dialogue and collaboration with the Philippine Embassy. 

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