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Filipino cultural celebration at Pista sa MAFTI

2 MAFTIby Jon Malek, PhD, for Pilipino Express

Since the 1970s, the Manitoba Association of Filipino Teachers, Inc. (MAFTI), has worked to preserve, encourage, and perform Filipino culture. Amongst its professional development projects to lift up internationally educated teachers, Filipino culture has also been a focus of MAFTI. June has become the month of MAFTI cultural performances, alongside celebrations led by groups such as the Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba and the Manitoba Filipino Street Festival.

On June 10th, the Pista sa MAFTI celebrated the hard work of the organization’s teachers and students. For years, MAFTI has supported the learning of Philippine culture and language by Filipino and non-Filipino students.

This year, MAFTI had projected 200 students, but enrolments totalled more than 300! These courses are separate from the new Filipino Bi-Lingual Program being implemented next school year in the Winnipeg School Division. In these after-school programs, students are exposed to Filipino arts, culture, values, and language. Every year ends with a culminating activity that showcases the talents of each class.

MAFTI’s heritage program depends upon the support of other schools. This year, this included Dufferin School, École Salisbury Morse Place School, Keewatin Prairie Community School, Lord Nelson School, Sargent Park School, Shaughnessy Park School, Stanley Knowles School, Wellington School, and the Filipino Heritage Language Online Class.

This celebration was months in the making. Teachers, EAs, and students have spent hours of preparation, study, and performance for the Pista sa MAFTI. This year, MAFTI took a different approach to its celebration. Each school had their own individual culminating activity in which students would have time to perform a number of skits and performances, often involving singing, recitation, and even games. The Pista sa MAFTI was a large event where everyone came together. All the students and their parents and guardians packed the hall at Maples Collegiate, and several sponsors and dignitaries joined the celebration. Unique to this year’s celebration was the presence of vendors who had the opportunity to sell their wares as the day’s program progressed.

Since MAFTI’s foundation forty-five years ago, the organization and its members have actively worked to preserve and continue Filipino heritage in Manitoba. The Filipino after-school heritage program continues to grow as more schools wish to join, so let us continue to support this program and to support the vitality of Filipino culture in the city.