Filipinos residing in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, along with city officials and Members of Parliament, marked the 116th anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine independence with highly-anticipated festivities running from June 8 to 15.
Thousands attend annual PICOV picnic
His Worship, Mayor Jim Watson, kick-started the week-long celebration of Philippine independence with the declaration of Philippine Heritage Week at the annual Filipino community picnic on June 8 at Vincent Massey Park. Easily the biggest annual gathering of the 10,000-strong Filipino community in Ottawa, the picnic was organized by the Philippine Independence Committee in the Ottawa Valley (PICOV) with the support of the Philippine Embassy.
True to Filipino form, PICOV’s traditional parade of colors, community mass, Parada ng Lechon and a talent show made for a fun-filled day attended by thousands of Filipino-Canadians, their families and Canadian friends. On this occasion, Philippine Embassy Chargéd’Affaires Eric Gerardo E. Tamayo read the independence day messages of President Benigno S. Aquino III, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F. Del Rosario.
Overseas Voting a theme in Parada ng Lechon
Tamayo also called attention to civic duties attendant to Filipino citizenship and the importance of making a difference in Philippine national development by way of overseas voting. In line with the Department of Foreign Affairs’ active campaign for Overseas Voting registration, the embassy participated in PICOV’s Parada ng Lechon where the embassy entry called on Filipinos in Canada to make their opinions count in the national crusade against corruption and towards widespread and permanent change in the country.
Rays of Philippine flag spread across Ottawa
On June 12, Tamayo joined Mayor Watson and PICOV Chair Nora Arriola in the traditional flag ceremony at City Hall where the Philippine flag flew for the duration of Philippine Heritage Week. A couple of hours later, the Philippine flag was raised for the first time in front of Parliament’s Centre Block courtesy of Canada’s first and only Senator of Filipino heritage, the Hon. Tobias Enverga, Jr. Through his good offices, a giant Philippine flag was again unfurled by hundreds of Filipino-Canadians on the steps of Parliament Hill, both a venerable symbol of Canada’s nationhood and a century-old Ottawa landmark. A reception hosted by Senator Enverga within the walls of Parliament was well attended by members of Canada’s Senate and House of Commons.
History of Philippine dresses captivates guests at Independence Day Ball
This year, PICOV jazzed up its annual Independence Day Ball on June 13 at the St. Elias Conference Center with a presentation of Philippine dresses through the lens of history. The colorful show put together by the officers and staff of the Philippine embassy traced the evolution of Philippine fashion from the pre-Hispanic era to the Spanish and American colonial rule to modern times. Throughout the presentation, much emphasis was placed on the creative use of renewable resources, symbolisms in weave patterns and preservation of Filipino identity at the core of each garb despite layers of foreign influences.
Philippine paraw sails on Gatineau River
Finally, on June 15, Philippine Centre Canada (PCC) set a Philippine paraw afloat on the Gatineau River. Built by hand by Rafael Mamaril and Knight of Rizal Richard Fairweather, the paraw sported a giant sail with the colors of the Philippine flag emblazoned on it. Mamaril envisions that a Philippine fluvial parade could be made possible next year with the growing support of the Filipino community for this new independence day activity. In support of fishermen who lost their livelihood in the aftermath of Typhoon Yoland, PCC intends to link up with NGOs rehabilitating their lives through The Peter Project or Adopt a Fisherman.
“It can be truly said that the sun and rays of the Philippine flag is shining brightly over Canada not only this week but in years to come. The Philippines became the largest source of new migrants to Canada, and Tagalog became the fastest growing language in the country. For here in Canada, the environment of multi-ethnicity and diversity is providing an enabling backdrop for Filipinos seeking to attain personal and professional fulfillment. Now more than ever, Filipinos in Canada are enriching the social and cultural fabric of Canadian society. It is quite evident that that the shared values between both peoples of the Philippines and Canada facilitate such seamless people-to-people interaction and relations,” Tamayo remarked at the close of Philippine Heritage Week in Ottawa.