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It's All History by Jon Malek

MAFTI busy with culminating activities

by Jon G. Malek

MAFTI SaveOnFoods MAFTI Keewatin 2 MAFTI Keewatin 1
Rondalla City Hall 2 MAFTI Chalmers Rondalla City Hall 1

It has been a busy past few weeks for the various cultural programs of the Manitoba Association of Filipino Teachers, Inc. (MAFTI). A major component of MAFTI’s service to the community is its After School Heritage program. This class, taught by a range of talented teachers, introduces students of various backgrounds to Filipino language, culture, and arts. In addition, there were several Adult and Teen Filipino language classes. This year, MAFTI unveiled its Performing Arts group made up of students from all After-Class groups. Every year in June, students in every class showcase what they have learned during their class

This year’s performances kicked off on May 25 at Dufferin School for the Learning Culture Together event, which saw the Performing Arts group offer a song and dance presentation. Then, from May 30 to June 8, the After-School program hosted the Pista sa MAFTI, held at Lord Nelson School, Chalmers Neighbourhood Renewal Corp., Keewatin Prairie Community School, and Sargent Park School. The Adult and Teen language classes held their culminating activities on June 8 at Kalesa Corner. The Performing Arts group also participated in the flag raising ceremony at Save-on-Food (McPhillips) on June 8 and have also been invited to perform at the Red River Ex on June 23. Don’t miss this!

Without fail, these events continue to inspire year after year. Driven by the passion, skill, and care of all teachers involved, a mix of new and returning students – many not of Filipino heritage – expand their horizons through creative outputs such as artwork, song and poetry performances, and dance. Each event this year was attended by parents as well as political and business leaders. The presence of Matt Henderson, Superintendent for the Winnipeg School Division, was a sign of how much the programs are valued by the division. At a conference held by the Philippine Association of Manitoba in 1977, great concern was expressed about the fate of Filipino culture in Manitoba and whether the language, values, and practices would continue in the province. Those present at this conference – many who continue to be active in the community today – would hopefully be proud to see the extent to which the Filipino Canadian youth of today seek to explore, learn, and preserve this culture. Certainly, Canada is better for such endeavours.

These classes not only inspire students to have a sense of appreciation and pride for Filipino culture and language, but also invoke sentiments of patriotism in those present. Each student demonstrated great courage and skill, getting up in front of friends, families, and dignitaries. On stage, they showed everyone what they were made and how, together, we can celebrate both Filipino culture and the land of Canada as a welcoming blend of many peoples. The children continue to inspire their teachers, and indeed all of MAFTI. The program continues to grow year by year and is, as always, free to enrol. For those you are interested, you may contact mafti.educators@gmail.com for the next round of enrolment.

Mabuhay ang MAFTI at pagbati sa lahat ng mga estudyante!

May and June also saw the first performances of MAFTI’s reinvigorated Rondalla group. First established by Linda Cantiveros many years ago, Genalyn Tan – former MAFTI president – has worked to revive the Rondalla along with Mervin Sison. Mervin is also releasing his adaptation of Noli Me Tangere on June 19th at the PCCM for free. Please, everyone attend! It will be memorable experience and a triumph for Teatro Filipino Manitoba. MAFTI wants to recognize the hard efforts of Mark Heramiz who led the Rondalla for the early growth and maturing of the performers and who has recently had to bid farewell as he moves on to Calgary. Mark’s leadership and inspiration was celebrated by the Rondalla group in a going-away party on June 8th at Jeepney restaurant. The bittersweetness of Mark’s departure, though, has meant the Rondalla has been blessed to be introduced to Mel Agravante, a very talented Filipino jazz musician. The Rondalla has been furnished with brand new instruments from the Philippines, including the banduria, laud, octavina, and acoustic bass guitar. The Rondalla’s first performance was at the Manitoba Legislature on May 30, and its second at City Hall in celebration of Philippine Independence Day on June 12. The group continues to practice hard for its culminating concert in November. Dates and location to be announced. It, too, is free so please watch social media for more announcements!

This is a golden age of Filipino activity in Manitoba. The community continues to grow, with new Filipino businesses opening and thriving, and an increasing number of cultural presentations and activities being offered to members of the community. If you are intrigued by these, and would like to know more, you can reach out to me (Jon.Malek@prov.ca) and I’d be more than pleased to put you in touch with the right groups!

Jon Malek is an Assistant Professor of History at Providence University College. His research is on the history of the Philippines and the Filipino diaspora. His current writing projects include a book on the history of Filipinos in Canada and a project on Filipino food and culture.