Indomitable Canadian Filipinos
A labour of love – part 3
by Dr. Rey D. Pagtakhan
Book cover design by award-winning Canadian Filipino artist Leo Orpilla Cunanan, Jr. of Vancouver, B.C.
Why, you might ask, did the non-profit Maple Bamboo Network Society of B.C. (MBNS) and its non-commercial newsmagazine, Canadian Filipino.Net (CFNet), decide to undertake this book project?
To take on a challenge? You bet. Both the MBNS Board of Directors and the CFNet Editorial Board have been guided by their passion to profile the Canadian Filipino community in their common pursuit with fellow Canadians to make Canada the best country that it could be. In fact, both boards subscribe to the thesis that Indomitable Canadian Filipinos would have a salutary impact not only on Canadian Filipinos but also on all Canadians. Indeed, this project is a labour of love.
This is part 3 of my preview series of the book. It focuses on its impact and importance. Parts 1 and 2, published earlier, covered the “scope and purpose” and the “contents and themes,” respectively.
Impact and importance
Until now, most books on Filipinos published in Canada had been limited to Filipinos in a province, city, or specific occupation. Important as they are, the need to expand inquiries more widely and more inclusively has become imperative in light of the fast-growing community.
Dr. Jon Malek, while researching for his introductory booklet Filipinos in Canada – as mentioned earlier in part 1 of this ongoing preview – had keenly observed that “very few works had been published in Canada about the Canadian Filipino community in its entirety.” He singled out Seeking a Better Life Abroad: A Study of Filipinos in Canada (1957–2007) by Eleanor Del Rio-Laquian and Aprodicio A. Laquian as one of the few. Now a vintage book, it provided a natural groundwork for Indomitable Canadian Filipinos, which encapsulates the contemporary history of the Canadian Filipino community in its entirety.
Admittedly, many intervening developments have transpired in the Canadian Filipino community since the publication and distribution in Manila of the Laquians’ pioneering book a decade-and-half ago. The magnitude of Filipino migration to the country has remarkably increased. The 1.5 and second-generation Canadian Filipinos have more actively participated in Canadian affairs. And there has been heightened awareness about Filipino heritage, culture, and traditions since Canada’s Parliament declared in 2018 that “June, every year, is Filipino Heritage Month” nationwide.
Indomitable Canadian Filipinos offers all Canadians an opportunity to better understand Canadian Filipinos as a community with their own perspective on Canadian affairs and impact on Canadian society. It also offers comprehensive coverage of Canadian news and views as seen from the perspective of Canadians with Filipino heritage; and information on the Canadian Filipino community across the country and beyond the first generation. Thus, one can anticipate greater intercultural and intracultural understanding and collaboration.
Canadian Filipinos would also know more about their own contemporary history, the richness of their Filipino heritage, and the jewel box of Filipino values. They would become more confident when engaged in conversations with their non-Filipino friends, neighbours, and co-workers about the scope of Filipino heritage, culture, traditions, and work ethic. And they would be more assured when they dialogue with the fast-growing 1.5 and second generations who grapple with their identity.
When Canadian Filipinos become an increasing part of the national conversation – the availability of this book to many Canadians will help that happen – it will, intuitively, reinforce national consciousness that Filipinos are a significant part of Canada’s national identity and prosperity. When their community’s contributions to the varied spheres of our nation’s life – cultural, economic, environmental, political, and social – are made known to the greater whole, the vibrancy of the community will be duly acknowledged. Then, greater things become more forthcoming.
Intergenerational adjustments within Canadian Filipino families will proceed with more ease. Any lingering perception that the Canadian Filipino community is fragmented and non-visible on issues of national dimension would be laid to rest.
The book could serve, too, as a motivational tool for role modelling and a reference source for governments, industry sectors, and educational institutions. Historians, social scientists, and policy makers stand to gain new insights into universal human values and envision future research projects.
Most certainly, Indomitable Canadian Filipinos commends itself as a legacy for future generations of Canadian Filipinos. Just as it is hoped all readers would find this book informative, inspiring, and entertaining. To be continued.
About the author: The Honourable Rey Pagtakhan, P.C., O.M., LL.D., Sc.D, M.Sc., M.D., is widely published in medical journals and textbook chapters. He is a retired lung specialist and professor of pediatrics and child health, a former member of parliament, parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, and cabinet minister, and a recipient of academic, governmental, professional, and community awards and honours. He graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine and the University of Manitoba (UM) Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, trained at the children’s hospitals of Washington University in St. Louis and UM in Winnipeg, and spent a sabbatical year as visiting professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson. With an abiding interest in medicine, politics, and community volunteerism, he writes the column Medisina at Politika for Pilipino Express and CanadianFilipino.Net and volunteers on the Advisory Council of Immigration Partnership Winnipeg and the Board of St. Paul’s College Foundation at the UM.