Greater Vancouver is home to the second largest population of Filipino Canadians.
But unlike other Filipino Canadian communities across the country, local members of the ethnic group have no cultural centre.
The Toronto metropolitan area has the biggest number of Filipino Canadians at 192,265, based on the 2016 Census. It has the Toronto Filipino Centre.
The Filipino Association of Montreal and Suburbs can boast of its own centre.
The same goes in Calgary, under the Philippine Cultural Center Foundation.
The Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba is located in Winnipeg.
Closer to home, in Victoria, there’s the Philippine Bayanihan Community Centre. [Bayanihan means working together.]
Metro Vancouver has 96,680 Filipino Canadians with no cultural centre to speak of.
When local Filipino Canadians gather to talk about their community, the matter regarding the creation of a cultural centre often comes up.
This was what happened when Filipino Canadian candidates running in the current election season spoke at a community forum in the evening of Tuesday (October 9).
Held at Josephine’s Restaurant, a Filipino establishment on Vancouver’s Main Street, the gathering saw candidates being asked by Joel Castillo, president of the United Filipino Canadian Associations in B.C. (UFCABC), for their support for the development of Filipino Canadian cultural centre.
Francisco ‘Jojo’ Quimpo, who is running for Vancouver city council, said that he supports the idea.
Quimpo, however, noted that it will take a united community effort to realize this goal.
“Each of us should contribute,” Quimpo said.
Rustum ‘Tommy’ Raguero, who is running for councillor in Port Coquitlam, said that a community centre will help in educating young Filipino Canadians about their native culture.
Raguero acknowledged that although this type of project is going to cost a lot of money, it can be achieved.
Erlinda ‘Neneng’ Galanto is a candidate for council in Surrey. Galanta said that the undertaking requires planning by the community.
Isabelo ‘Behl’ Evangelista, who wants to become a school board trustee in the District of North Vancouver, challenged the community to unite and work together.
“We have to have just one goal,” Evangelista said.
Rod Belleza, a candidate for school board in Richmond, echoed the call for unity.
“We need to have a shared vision, shared leadership, shared responsibility, and hopefully, success that can be shared,” Belleza said.
UFCABC president Castillo remarked that community politicians can serve as an instrument to reach the goal.
“You can make use of your influence,” Castillo said.
Salve Dayao of the New Westminster Philippine Festival Society commented that the community needs to start working on the project.
Also present at the forum was Cyrus Sy, a Filipino Canadian running for school board in New Westminster.
Vancouver mayoral candidate Hector Bremner came to the event, and called on Filipino Canadians to use the strength of their numbers. Bremner, whose wife Virginia is of Filipino heritage, is an adopted son of the community. He left before the question-and-answer session to attend a debate in another venue
The forum was organized by Rey Fortaleza, a multi-media entrepreneur in the community.