Filipino-Canadians gather for a town hall forum
Photo by Jeprox photography
By Roldan Sevillano Jr.
Approximately a hundred members of Manitoba’s Filipino community of 65,000 assembled at the Filipino Senior’s Hall on Sunday, February 9, to participate in a town hall style forum. According to organizers, the purpose of the meeting was to provide an opportunity for the public to express their concerns and suggestions on the state of one of the province’s fastest growing communities. Facilitated by Jon Reyes, Aida Champagne, Ron Cantiveros and other community leaders, the forum emphasized the importance of unity and collaboration among the numerous Filipino groups in Manitoba.
In addition to the facilitators’ emphasis on positive solutions, they also cautioned that defamatory remarks would not be entertained. Although it is reasonable to assume why this forum took place, forum organizers stressed that the meeting was not in any way a coordinated attempt to oust the present PCCM Board, but to gather forward-thinking ideas that bring us closer together as one strong and defiant community.
Organizers conducted a survey a few weeks prior to the forum to gather opinions and suggestions on the condition of the local Filipino community. Jon Reyes, President of the Manitoba Filipino Business Council and forum moderator, summarized the survey results. He notes that although the Filipino people have accomplished much in the way of integrating and contributing to Manitoba’s social and economic landscape, we still have ways to go in building a strong and united front. In the spirit of transparency, the full results of the survey are available upon request.
The highlight of the forum was the group discussions. Participants were randomly grouped and given a community issue to address.
On the issue of youth engagement, it was emphasized that youth need to be given real leadership roles among all Filipino organizations and be allowed to partake in important decisions. In the interest of preservation more needs to be done to inspire youth to learn about their culture so to be shared with future generations.
One interesting question was, “What can Manitoba’s Filipino media do to increase its reach to the growing community?” Participants reported that while print media is still the most widely accepted format, electronic media is the way of the future. As a contributor to the Pilipino Express, all our articles are made available online at www.pilipino-express.com and is updated every two weeks and when there’s breaking news that has to be reported immediately to the readers.
On the issue of which organization should officially represent the Filipino community, it was unanimous that it should be the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba (PCCM). However, without names being mentioned, the main concern lies in their confidence in the management of the building. It was deemed that if change is to happen, it must still be done within the boundaries of the PCCM’s structure. This would mean establishing a thorough understanding of its constitution with particular emphasis on membership deadlines and election procedures.
It was clear that the PCCM’s unintentional delay to send typhoon relief funds continued to be a hot topic issue as evidenced by the frustration expressed by a few participants. Although, board members of the PCCM were unavailable to attend the forum, Lou Fernandez, PCCM Spokesperson and Vice President, issued an earlier press release stating, “The reporting may be untimely but we can assure everyone that every single penny has been accounted for.” He also stated the PCCM and its board of directors “have no malicious intention of defrauding” donors. (See related article, PCCM clarifies Town Hall meeting absence)
Reynaldo Cruz, current President of the Pangasinan Group of Manitoba Inc. declared that while he chooses to remain neutral on the various issues at hand, he believes that “…sincerity, dedication and transparency in our words and actions will strengthen the unity and cooperation among the Filipino-Canadian community.”
“What unites us is far greater that what divides us” – John F. Kennedy in his 1961 address to the Canadian Parliament.
Roldan Sevillano is the Executive Assistant to Kevin Lamoureux, MP Winnipeg North. For questions or comments on this article, you can e-mail him at email@example.com