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Emmie Joaquin      Who's our latest BFF?

It was raining non-stop this past weekend as we put this issue of Pilipino Express to bed. For many people, it was a perfect time to just stay indoors, sleep, read a book, watch TV, do the laundry or work on chores at home. For many Filipino organizations it was not so perfect but the fiestas and social gatherings pushed through in spite of the inclement weather.

It was also a very hectic weekend for politicians and their campaign teams. Of course, the two strong contenders for the Liberal Party nomination to represent the federal riding of Winnipeg North – Pt. Douglas Councillor Mike Pagtakhan and Inkster MLA Kevin Lamoureux – were busy renewing ties with Filipino friends and acquaintances at the Alapan Fiesta in Crescent Park. And, after a long absence from Filipino events, the incumbent city mayor was also seen in Crescent Park shaking hands and tasting Filipino food. It’s time to woo the Pinoy votes again!

The Civic Election will be in October while a federal by-election may be called sooner than we think for the Winnipeg North riding. Expect to see more political candidates wearing our traditional Barong Tagalog or kimona and trying to be our community’s latest BFF’s (best friends forever) in the months ahead, especially during Philippine Heritage Week this June and Folklorama in August.

Human Rights

On May 14th, we were invited to two significant events at the University of Winnipeg.

The Global College held an inauguration ceremony recognizing the first group of students to enrol in the Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights and Global Studies Degree Program. It is a program unique in Western Canada and bodes well for our society that cradles peoples from different ethnicities, cultures, customs and traditions.

As I watched the proceedings from the gallery, I was very much impressed by the speech given by the former Governor General of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson. She said that the “concept of citizenship is based on human rights.” She added that we are all equal bearers of the same rights. How true, I thought. As human beings and citizens of the world, we must treat each other with respect and dignity. We must not allow anyone to rob us of our freedom to live a life that’s true and principled.

Later that day, we watched an indie Filipino move, Dukot, in the Eckhardt-Grammatté Hall at the University of Winnipeg. Dukot was not easy to watch. It’s based on a story written by award-winning Filipino writer and activist, Bonifacio Ilagan. While it was supposed to be fiction, the plot could undoubtedly be the true-to-life story of any human rights activists who courageously put themselves in harm’s way to serve the people. One of the speakers after the screening was Filipino-American Melissa Roxas. She spoke about her harrowing experience when she was abducted and tortured in the Philippines in 2005.

Human rights violations in the Philippines, sadly, are rampant. It is very disturbing that the oppression is still happening now, decades after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship; and that the Arroyo administration managed to rack up more cases of human rights violations and extrajudicial killings than all the administrations since and including Marcos, combined!

Thanks to Damayan Manitoba, Bayan Canada, ANAK and the Global College for bringing this movie to Winnipeg. I just wish more local Filipinos were able to see this movie.

Winnipeg Glee

Congratulations to our young local talents who performed in the Winnipeg Glee Club 2010 show on May 14 and 15 at the Prairie Theatre Exchange. It was a job well done especially by Jesse James Baris, our Pinoy Pop Star 2009 runner- up who summoned the support and cooperation of his equally talented peers. We watched the show and we were impressed at the artistic creativity of each member of the cast. We were so pleased and proud to see familiar faces among the cast like our Pinoy Pop Star 2010 Grand Champion Grace Ann Panganiban and also Pinoy Pop Star finalists: Jimuel de Castro, Elsa Mutya, Cherrie-Len Olid, and Joey Villanueva. Some of our Pinoy Pop Star semi-finalists also gave a very impressive performance. I wish I had more space so I could mention all the names of cast members of Winnipeg Glee. To all of you – thank you for sharing your talents for a good cause. Proceeds from the show will go to Gawad Kalinga. Please see the gallery of photos taken during the show.

Balikbayan boxes

Are you going back to the Philippines any time soon for your holidays?

I received a message from one of our friends who works at the Winnipeg International Airport. If you are using balikbayan boxes, do not seal these boxes with tape or ropes before they’re inspected. While some could get away with not being opened in the past, there was a recent directive to “check and inspect the contents of every baggage and to test for chemical residues before any baggage could be checked in.” Just remember to bring with you the ropes and tape to avoid any delay and inconvenience.

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