Land is Life, Anakbayan Toronto’s fifth annual Diwa ng Kasarinlan (Spirit of Independence) event held on Saturday, July 16 at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education was a cultural celebration of resistance in Philippine history and current society. The event was also a fundraiser for Sulong Kabataan, a Canada wide conference for youth this November 18th- 20th taking place in Toronto. During the programme, many references were made to recent events such as the displacement of Lumads from ancestral lands and the violent dispersal of farmers in Kidapawan, stressing the importance of land to the survival of the people in the Philippines.
The cultural event was held in solidarity with the International Solidarity Missions and International Conference for People’s Rights in the Philippines, which is taking place in the Philippines from July 16th to the 24th. The conference aims to examine and promote awareness of the living conditions of various regions and communities where human rights violations have been increasing.
Filipino youth – and Anakbayan youth prefer to use the gender-free term “Filipinx” – in and outside of the Philippines often express their struggle of staying connected to their culture. “It is interesting to discover that youth can identify with their own struggles in both here (Toronto) and of their fellow Filipinos at home”, says Viel Perida, lead event coordinator. The Land is Life event provided an opportunity for young people to celebrate their roots through song, dance, spoken word, and traditional instruments.
The event lineup featured returning crowd-pleasers, like jazz singer Belinda Corpuz and ethnomusic group Panday Sining, as well as emerging artists to the DnK scene. Toni Oponda and Rachel Chiong captivated the crowd with their spoken word pieces. Mariz and Myka Lacorte showed off their hip hop dance skills, while New York-based Kinding Sindaw Melayu Heritage enchanted the audience with pre-colonial traditional dances. Ron Culianista, Mary Carl Guiao, and Justin Lima also entertained the audience through musical performances.
Alongside the featured cultural performances was a lineup of presenters starting with a keynote speech from Dr. Nonilon Queano on the importance of cultural work in the struggle for National Democracy in the Philippines. Jesson Reyes and Gabi Abis spoke about the work of Migrante Ontario not only with the workers but also their children. Meanwhile, Ben Corpuz of Philippine Advancement through Arts and Culture (PATAC) briefly outlined the 15-point agenda to President Duterte by various People’s organizations, which includes a push for the resumption of the peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
What purpose does art serve?
An interaction at the event sparked an opportunity to begin dialogues long needed in the artistic communities in North America. Anakbayan Toronto encourages the youth not only to embrace their heritage through song and dance, but to go beyond by learning about the struggles of the communities from whom this art originates.
As a community outside of the homeland, it is important to hold critical discussions on the use of traditional arts and culture. We must always ask what purpose does art serve and for whom is it intended?
Anakbayan Toronto looks forward to collaborating with its allies and the broader community to begin further educational discussions and workshops to reclaim and preserve the integrity of the culture of the peoples in the Philippines. Anakbayan Toronto invites the youth interested in learning more about their cultural heritage to join them on this journey.
As Canadian students graduate high school, their Filipino counterparts are about to start their classes June to March. Yet, the quality of education is in no doubt in question in the Philippines.
The number of years of formal schooling in the Philippines used to be one of the shortest in the world. In 2011, major reforms were introduced to lengthen formal educational ladder of 6+4+2 structure (i.e., six years of elementary education, four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school). A year of kindergarten has also been added, with children now beginning their studies at the age of 5 (versus 7 previously)
1: Misconception about the +2 years (Kathang isip hinggil sa +2 taon)
Adding two years to the basic education curriculum will vastly improve the performance and competency of Filipino students and make Philippine basic education at par with international standards. To follow the dictates of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic integration is to simply cram the country into free trade and more competition among countries. However imagined, there is no such world standard in the length of formal schooling.
2: Ill-preparedness (Kawalang kahandaan)
Only 48% of public high schools nationwide have submitted proposals to implement an extended senior high school (SHS). That’s about half of the 2 million high school students – the first full batch of Grade 11 students required to take SHS by June 2016. In order to accommodate, the government is streaming students to enroll in private schools and colleges instead. This means the K-12 program violates the Basic Education Act of 2013 which requires a review and evaluation of its capacity before the full implementation of the framework. Why change the whole system instead of testing in pilot sites first?
3: Resource gaps (Kakulangan sa pasilidad, at iba pang imprastraktura)
The Department of Education earlier vowed to achieve zero shortage in classrooms, textbooks, water and sanitation facilities, teachers and seats. However, BS Aquino’s administration is playing catch-up in planning to build more than 40,000 classrooms. That is just for brand-new classrooms not including classrooms for repair and new technical-vocational workshops. Class sizes range even up to 54, where desks intended for two pupils would be shared by three instead. Hundreds of errors were seen in several textbooks. Education officials are still confronted by a shortage of equipment that in some cases, children are asked to bring their own chairs. These deficiencies stretch back to two years.
4: Transition Mismanagement (Kamalian sa pamamalakad)
Decongesting the current curriculum to allow “mastery of learning” is apparently learning everything too fast. And with the severe lack of facilities and trained teachers, shorter hours of instruction may be the practice and make things worse. For teachers, it is only through their own resourcefulness that make them survive.
5: Privatization (Katuparan ng pribatisasyon)
While the government drastically reduced social spending on education, it turns out “capitalist-educators” took over schools as money-making schemes. Seven of the 65 richest Filipino tycoons now own a handful of educational institutions. These schools enjoy maximum tolerance from the government by way of deregulation. They are also favoured by government by way of subsidies and assuring them more profits.
1 out of 5 Philippine schools is a private school
1 out of 10 Filipino pupils is enrolled in private elementary schools
1 out of 5 Filipino students is enrolled in private secondary schools.
6: Corporatization (Korporatisasyon)
With the educational crisis, more corporate-led privatizations are taking shape. Case in point is the rise of APEC (affordable, private, education centers) schools – a for-profit chain of low-fee private schools established through a joint venture between Ayala Education (under Ayala Corporation) and Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (under foreign education company Pearson Plc). The education-business model implemented by APEC involves hiring under qualified and underpaid teachers, to keep costs down and to ensure increasing rates of profit.
On the other hand, Alternative Learning System – non-formal education of underprivileged students in rural areas – constantly face many challenges, particularly the heavy militarization due to counterinsurgency operation that often times threaten and harass the school staff.
In an import-dependent, export-oriented economy, K-12 by itself – even with all its good intentions – could not work.
7: Anti-people curriculum & its downward spiral approach (Kurikulum na anti-mamamayan)
The curricula and philosophy of Philippine education system is geared towards preparing youth as ‘stocks’ ready for labour export. Technical-vocational courses are engineered to respond to the prevailing demand of the international labour market for contractual, part-time and seasonal jobs. Even with different academic tracks from which students can choose from supposedly, not all schools offer the tracks.
8: Tuition and other fees (Kamahalan ng matrikula at iba pang bayarin)
Quality education is equated with expensive fees that prevents an overwhelming majority of the people from availing it. Under Daang Matuwid, tuition fees rose by as much as 400% in the last 6 years. More recently, the Commission on Higher Education approved tuition and other school fee increase proposals of 304 private universities and colleges for the following Academic Year.
9: Labour concerns (Kawalang karapatan sa trabaho)
The K-12 or Enhanced Basic Education law, is paradoxically expected to massive layoffs of workers in colleges and universities. Suppose enrolment in higher education institutions (HEIs) will drop to zero after the extension of high school to grades 11 and 12, estimates show that about 30,000 teachers will lose their jobs over a five-year period, including around 15,000 non teaching staff. Instructors of general education courses will be the most affected during the rollout of the senior high school curriculum this year. While up to 90% of HEIs in the country have no labour unions, personnel are vulnerable to abuse.
10: Chaotic impact (Kaguluhang bunga)
The K to 12 scheme keeps high dropout rates among secondary students. In 2013, completion of grade 6 was less than 74%, indicating a significant drop-out at the elementary level. As it produces more out-of-school youths in the country, it may also cause a “downward pressure” on wages. Unemployment is steadily increasing, not because of shortage of “capable” people, but because there is no clear plan for an independent and sustainable job creation program.
11: Prelude to a crisis (Kagipitang hinaharap)
This scheme is a prelude to the planned restructuring of tertiary level education under the government’s Roadmap for Public Higher Education Reform, which include the proposal to amalgamate several state universities into one system. It means a steady decrease in government spending. In effect, there will be reduction and closure of local universities and colleges.
12: Lack of public consultations (Kakulangan sa pagsangguni sa mga stakeholder)
No massive and genuinely democratic consultations with teachers, parents, students, and other stakeholders, were held when the K to 12 Program was being conceived, and before it was implemented. The government failed to carry out its responsibility of assessing the current education cycle and curricula.
Although K-12 is claimed to follow the “global standards”, an education does not take into consideration the people’s welfare and progress, is useless. Philippine education must be geared to the making of Filipinos–nationalist, scientific, and mass-based.
“In an import-dependent, export-oriented economy, K-12 by itself – even with all its good intentions – could not work. The country cannot go at par with the rest of the world without developing its national industry first. When done properly, we could even get FREE basic education that caters to the needs of the common people,” says Ysh Cabana, Education officer, Anakbayan Toronto.
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.
Toronto– Local Filipino youth organization Anakbayan-Toronto and Filipino Canadian Association of Ryerson (FCAR) invites everyone to the third Diwa ng Kasarinlan Spirit of Independence Saturday, July 19th from 1-4pm at Ryerson University Student Campus Centre.
Diwa ng Kasarinlan is a free annual celebration of the formation of the Katipunan and its heroes as a way to realize Filipino pride that comes from our history of epic struggle. This year’s theme is “Powershift : Power to the People.”
Join us for a day of festivities featuring local Toronto talent. We are excited to present new and returning performers such as local Filipino hip hop group Southeast Cartel, No Budget Band, Filipino poetry collective Akdaan, and the all-women kulintang ensemble Pantayo. We are also featuring the performance of spoken word artist Spin El Poeta and local Cordillera youth group Matineb.
Diwa ng Kasarinlan is a celebration of our assertion for genuine Philippine independence and continues our fight for People’s true rights and freedom. It will feature talks, various artistic performances, and community empowerment.
AnakBayan Toronto (AB-TO) is an all-youth advocacy group organizing events around issues affecting the Filipino community in Canada and the struggle for national democracy in the Philippines.
Diwa ng Kasarinlan
Saturday, July 19th from 1-4pm
Ryerson University Student Campus Centre
55 Gould St. Toronto, Ontario
For more information and updates follow us and use hashtag #DnK2014
Filipino youth group Anakbayan-Toronto (AB-T) partners with Philippine Advancement Through Arts and Culture (PATAC) to host Diwa ng Kasarinlan 2013.
What does it mean to identify yourself as a distinct people, how can you affect local realities and how can you mobilize with an action to empower the community? On July 27, Toronto Filipinos are invited to challenge their struggles in an afternoon of engaging activities, workshops and cultural performances.
Diwa ng Kasarinlan looks to serve as an arena for inquiring a much deeper appreciation, particularly about the engagement of Filipino youth revolutionaries during the Spanish colonial period. Diwa ng Kasarinlan, which means for “Spirit of Independence” debuted last year on July 7th. This date marks the anniversary of the founding of the Katipunan, the revolutionary movement led by Andres Bonifacio, which waged war against the Spanish colonizers in the struggle for independence.
AB-T and PATAC are proud partners in this event aimed at fostering a deeper understanding of the Filipino culture hand-in-hand with the contemporary youth’s struggles. This year the event will take place at Palmerston Public Library Theatre at 560 Palmerston Ave. Toronto, ON M6G 2P7 on July 27, 2013 – 12:00PM – 6:00PM
The first part will feature a film showing of a movie related to the history of Philippine independence. Then will be followed up by performances featuring local talents. Complementing the workshops on Filipino culture, history, and current events, participants will be engaged in interactive cultural workshops, which allows them to extend the presentation in creative ways. Toronto Filipinos are encouraged to be part of the conversation by using the hashtag #DnK2013.
Diwa ng Kasarinlan was created by young Filipino-Canadian organizers to strengthen their ties to the motherland. The aim is not only to learn about native food, traditional dances and pop culture but to provide a venue for inquiring a much deeper appreciation of those who’ve come before and have taken the revolutionary path.
Come and celebrate Filipino pride that comes from our history of epic struggle!
Anakbayan Toronto is one of the overseas chapters of Anakbayan, a Philippines-wide organization which unites Filipino youth from all walks of life – for the cause of human rights, national freedom and genuine democracy in the country. In Canada, the group engages the youth to raise sociopolitical awareness of Filipino-Canadians and Filipino im/migrant youth through regular educational discussions, workshops and similar activities.
About PATAC The Philippine Advancement Through Arts and Culture (PATAC) is a community based organization, registered federally as a non-profit organization. It strives to promote the Philippines’ progressive and nationalist culture, its people, culture and struggles through music, photo, spoken word, print and other artistic medium.
This is the 3rd of the 6 FREE language classes, coordinated and facilitated by Haniely Pableo, that will teach you how to construct basic sentences and engage in a conversation in Bisaya! In this class, we will focus on: interrogatives, request and command; and basic sentence structure. To enhance your Bisaya vocabulary, you will be learning a new song every class.
Space is limited: 10 spots, so please contact us immediately to book a spot!
This is the 2nd of the 6 FREE language classes, coordinated and facilitated by Haniely Pableo, that will teach you how to construct basic sentences and engage in a conversation in Bisaya! In this class, we will focus on: interrogatives, request and command; and basic sentence structure. To enhance your Bisaya vocabulary, you will be learning a new song every class.
… Space is limited, so please contact us immediately to book a spot!
firstname.lastname@example.org, or Rhea at (647) 281-0652
Where: CSI Regent Park, 3rd Floor, Daniels Spectrum Building, 585 Dundas Street East
When: Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 4:30-7pm
**Poster created by Althea Balmes and Tim Manalo**
Interested in learning a different language? Want to know more about the Bisaya language? Kamalayan presents “How to Spit FiYAh in Bisaya”!! It is a FREE language class that will teach you how to construct basic sentences and engage in a conversation.
The creator and facilitator of this workshop is Haniely Pableo. Poster created by Althea Balmes and Tim Manalo.
Please contact email@example.com or call Rhea at 647.281.0652 to confirm your spot!
Space is limited!!!
Where: CSI Regent Park, 3rd Floor, Daniels Spectrum Building, 585 Dundas Street East
When: Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 4:30-6pm
[FREE History Workshop | Open to All | Space is Limited]
Why is Philippine Politics So Corrupt?
Why do family dynasties persist in a supposedly democratic, and supposedly independent Philippines? And what does history teach us about the potential for real change? … This will be a one hour history talk matched with one hour of discussion.
We will look at how family dynasties came to dominate Philippine politics, economics, and pop culture. We will also look at the many attempts to overturn this climate of corruption. Where were there successes and where were there failures, and why?
In discussing corruption we’ll also examine why this corruption is not an unfortunate side effect but a necessary tool to maintain the status quo… and along the way examine some of the dark chapters–like how the CIA was born in the Philippines to crush post WWII attempts at a truly independent country…
You can email us to confirm your spot: firstname.lastname@example.org Or you can also just drop in! (Space is limited, emailing us confirms your spot.)