Published on

Manitoba Museum launches Filipino exhibit

(l-r): Darlyne Bautista, Luis Enriques, Katrina Castillo, Kezia Malabanan, Claudette Leclerc (Executive Director, Manitoba Museum), Hon. Flor Marcelino, Johsa Manzanilla, Ricardo Reyes, Maria Monica De Castro, Symmone Ochoa (Designer), Maureen Justiniano, Daisydee Bautista.

WINNIPEG – The first museum exhibit ever to document the history of Filipino immigration to Manitoba opened its doors to the public at the Manitoba Museum on Friday, June 18. The exhibit is the visual component of a larger oral history project conducted by the youth organization Aksyon Ng Ating Kabataan (ANAK) in cooperation with the Manitoba Museum, the Canadian Oral History Centre at the University of Winnipeg,the Manitoba Heritage Grants Program and the Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba (PHCM).

Flor Marcelino, Manitoba’s Minister of Culture, Heritage and Tourism, responsible for Multiculturalism, was at the launch of the exhibit to help cut the ribbon and speak to the first visitors.

“Kudos to ANAK for undertaking this labour of love – compiling snippets of 50 years of Filipino history in Manitoba and sharing it with the world,” said Marcelino, adding, “May the Filipinos’ journey from Manila to Manitoba serve as an inspiration and enlightenment for all – especially to second-generation Filipino-Canadians.”

“I’m surprised I didn’t cry,” said project curator Darlyne Bautista. “I could feel the pride and the emotion that the exhibit brought to so many people. I continue to receive e-mails thanking us each day.”

Grassroots history

The exhibit, designed by Symmone Ochoa,shares excerpts from 25 interviews that the ANAK research team recorded in their ongoing effort to document the experiences of ordinary Filipino-Canadians in their own words. The researchers and interviewers – Ma. Monica De Castro, BA; Katrina Castillo; Luis Enriques; Johsa Manzanilla, MA; Janellyn Marcial; Maureen Justiniano, MA; Daisydee Bautista, BSc; Kezia Malabanan and Ricardo Reyes – interviewed local Filipinos from a wide variety of occupations and backgrounds, seeking the broadest grass-roots representation of the community.

Political figures were not interviewed for the project. According to Bautista, “our objective was to ensure that these stories related most to the general public; the experiences of politicians are unique and can be polarizing.”

Information collected from the interviews was verified with additional research in the Manitoba Archives, which enhances the exhibit with fascinating news items of the past 50 years from the files of the Winnipeg Free Pressand former community newspapers such as Kalayaan and Silangan.

Academic integrity

To ensure the academic integrity of the oral history project, ANAK sought the advice and supervision of Professors Nolan Reilly and Alexander Freund of the Canadian Oral History Centre at the University of Winnipeg as well as Sharon Reilly, Curator of Social History at the Manitoba Museum, and PHCM president, Perla Javate.

Regina Ramos-Urbano, a coordinator at Manitoba Advanced Education & Literacy, said, “The project was very professionally done and serves to give Manitobans a glimpse and some insight into the Filipino community. I enjoy the narrative approach of the ANAK project – reading people’s stories – because this often points to our similarities in the community and our common history in Manitoba as a province of immigrants. Is it comprehensive? No, but it nudges people to find out more information if they are so inclined, and hopefully those sources of additional information will be readily available.”

According to Bautista, the original audio recordings of the interviews will be entrusted to the Archives of Manitoba and will be available for future research. Complete and extensive research from the project will be published through the ANAK Publishing Worker Cooperative in the fall.

See more photos from the exhibit launch in the photo gallery.

Visit the From Manila to Manitoba blog to find out more about ANAK's ongoing oral history project and to read stories of the early Filipino immigrants to Winnipeg.

Have a comment on this article? Send us your feedback