How do we get to know Filipino pride for the right reasons?
Most migrants are occasional activists while they are away from their home-country and as they endure attachments to their host country. But there is an increasing number of immigrant generations who are engaging transnational activities on a regular basis.
Some Filipinos of various backgrounds engage in activities to uphold democracy at home and to foster political participation in Canada. For youth group Anakbayan-Toronto, hosting the annual cultural event to commemorate the founding anniversary of the Katipunan is important to establishing the ties that bind to their revolutionary roots.
Sarah Salise, event coordinator of Diwa ng Kasarinlan (Spirit of Independence) 2015, said it’s like “getting to know Filipino pride for the right reasons”.
Distinct from the number of summer events promoting Filipino arts and culture in Toronto, this occasion celebrates the militant struggle of contemporary Filipinos worldwide for national democracy in the Philippines.
Some of the presenters include Bern Jagunos of the Canadian chapter of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP). Jagunos shared about the recently concluded grassroots International Peoples’ Tribunal in Washington, DC last July 18th.
A jury of lawyers, scholars, and human rights defenders assembled to look into the mass violation of human rights in the Philippines. The Peoples’ Tribunal declared President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and the US government as represented by Barack Obama, guilty of crimes against the Filipino people. This verdict is part of the historic fight of the Filipino masses against US imperialism and local reaction.
Diwa ng Kasarinlan also served as the People’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) as a parallel protest to the SONA delivered by Pres. Aquino in Manila. Petronila Cleto of Gabriela alliance of Filipino women spoke of the dire situation of their sector under the present government. A performance by iWWorkers portrayed the lived experience of Filipinos forced into migration. While Rafunzel Penanueva of the Filipino Worker’s Network expressed the significance of unionizing to assert worker’s rights in the workplace, especially here in Canada.
Anakbayan-Toronto member Lesley Valiente encouraged fellow compatriots to connect back to their roots by joining solidarity missions and educational trips to the country.
Animated by the progressive developments among people’s organizations, the audience danced along in the pop-rock act Uppercase band and hip hop beats of Tagalog rap group Southeast Cartel. “When we seek pleasure in this manner, this is our way of resistance,” comments co-emcee Gary Fondevilla.
It also featured homegrown talents of songstress Belinda Corpuz accompanied by the music of Malcolm Connor and reading of literary pieces by Kay de Guzman and Keith Villena of Akdaan writers collective.
The fourth annual DnK is supported by BAYAN Canada organizations, OPSEU Region 5, UFCW Canada, Filipino Workers Network, Cookies and Crease, and SEAS Centre.
Anakbayan-Toronto is one of the overseas chapters of the global network of over 180 grassroots Filipino youth organizations who aspire for national liberation and just and lasting peace in the Philippines.
For Reference: Sarah Salise, Secretary General
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