Youth in celebration of resistance

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?

Moving forward

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.

You can follow Anakbayan Toronto on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and visit their website for updates on Sulong Kabataan and other events.###


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Human Rights in the Philippines: A Continuing Struggle

Panel Discussion: Tuesday, 16 October 2012 from 6 to 8pm (please note that we will start promptly at 6pm)
Location: Room 280N, 2nd Floor, York Lanes, York University (Keele Campus), 4700 Keele Street
Photo Exhibition: Scott Library, York University, Ground Floor Lobby between the circulation desk and the Map Library.  

Refreshments provided, All are welcome.

In September 1972, democratic freedoms were suspended in the Philippines when President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. Tens of thousands of Filipinos were arrested and imprisoned. Although martial law was lifted in 1981, the struggle for human rights, democracy and development continues into the present. Even today, over 300 political detainees remain imprisoned and extra-judicial killings have been widespread.

Marking the 40th anniversary of martial law, a panel of former political prisoners and activists will tell their own stories of detention and describe the ongoing struggles against human rights abuses in the Philippines. The panel is intended to connect youth with the histories of struggle undertaken by their parents’ generation, and to raise their awareness of contemporary human rights issues in the Philippines.


Ricky Esguerra
 – former political prisoner; Philippine Solidarity Network; Vice-Chair for Education, Community Alliance for Social Justice, Toronto.

Hermie Garcia
 – former political prisoner; Editor, The Philippine Reporter; President, Community Alliance for Social Justice.

Bern Jagunos
 – Asia Program Coordinator, United Church of Canada.

Perry Sorio
– former political prisoner; Secretary-General, Migrante Canada.


François Tanguay-Renaud
– Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School; Director, Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security, York University.

Alex Felipe
– BAYAN-Canada, Toronto.

Philip Kelly
– Director, York Centre for Asian Research

Sponsored by: 

York Centre for Asian Research, York University
Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security, York University
Community Alliance for Social Justice

For more information, contact


PHOTO EXHIBIT ||| From Martial Law to Today: Human Rights in the Philippines

Martial Law was declared in the Philippines on 21 September 1972. This year marks its 40th anniversary. While it was officially lifted in 1981, its echoes continue to reverberate in the country today. This exhibition features images from the martial law period and modern times, from the point of view of human rights and democracy activists. The goal is to both educate about that period, and to show that government corruption and human rights abuses are still rampant.  The exhibit is curated by, and features the photographs of, Alex Felipe.

***This exhibition can be seen in the Scott Library at York University, Ground Floor Lobby between the circulation desk and the Map Library. The exhibition will run for three weeks beginning 2 October 2012***

Canada & the Phils: Corporate Greed, Human Rights, and Migration

Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Occupy Toronto, St. James Park
Corner King & Jarvis Sts.

Join us this Tuesday when ANAKBAYAN Toronto will speak to the General Assembly at Occupy Toronto about the Occupy Philippines movement, as well as give a workshop at Free Skool on the ties that bind Canada and the Philippines together.

We will discuss:

  • Occupy Philippines
  • a brief summary of Philippine and Fil-Can history
  • Canadian Corporate (ir)Responsibility in the Philippines
  • Filipino Migration (Filipinos since 2007 have been the #1 source of both immigrants and temporary workers to Canada)
  • and we will answer questions.

Join us!