Hundreds of Filipino Catholics and devotees of San Lorenzo Ruiz gathered in Delta over the weekend to celebrate Barrio Fiesta, a festival organized to honour the first Filipino saint on his feast day.
Vancouver Deputy Consul General Anthony Mandap, who spoke at the gathering, paid tribute to the Filipinos to led the festivity, which, he said, “evokes sweet memories of our beloved Philippines.”
“The spotlight on Filipino culture and the Filipino religious community on this day is truly appreciated,” Mandap said.
He stressed that the celebration was not only a cultural festivity. “There is a higher reason and purpose for this activity, which is to look back at the life and legacy of San Lorenzo Ruiz, and draw lessons that should inspire us an overseas Filipino and Catholic community,”
Mandap said life in any foreign land, including Canada, is riddled with challenges, in whatever status or category of overseas Filipino one might be—whether a temporary worker, permanent resident, tourist or even Canadian citizen. “There are cultural challenges, economic hardships, employment-related issues, and others that we have had to endure at some point,” he said.
“But when it comes to challenges like these, count on the Filipino and the Filipino community to step up, survive, and succeed,” he said, “because the Filipino has eternal courage and faith.”
Mandap drew parallels between the life of San Lorenzo and the travails of the overseas Filipino. “San Lorenzo Ruiz was, in a very real sense, also an OFW (overseas Filipino worker). He was in fact working as a missionary in Japan, not to earn dollars or yens, but to spread the Catholic faith and give glory to God.”
He said like many overseas Filipinos, San Lorenzo endured being away from his kin, ventured into a hostile country, and suffered cruelty and untold hardship. “It was in this line of work that he was tested, tortured and martyred, giving proof to the whole world that the Filipino, then, as now, can be world-class in his work, as much as in his faith,” he said.
“By his sacrifice, he built an edifice of faith for all Filipinos to live by,” he said.
The feast of San Lorenzo is celebrated yearly in many Catholic churches in Metro Vancouver, where an overwhelming majority of the parishioners are ethnic Filipinos.