Windsor Filipino Community Centre: Sharing One Vision

Community News & Features Jul 1, 2005 at 3:54 pm

For only one dollar a year, the Filipino community of Windsor had been able to fulfill the dream of having their own community center. But more than that, it was built on teamwork and shared vision. Thanks to the people who were behind the project, the centre has now become the pride and honor of the community.

In 1992. the FIL-CANs rented the building from Community Living, a non-profit organization for only Can$ 1.00 a year. When the said organization decided to sell the building for $150,000.00, several members of the FIL-CAN community saw the opportunity and decided to buy it. Several meetings were held to draw plans for fundraising activities. Realizing the fund drive was not enough to raise the $ 75,000.00 deposit, resourceful members of the community tapped those who could loan them the money. In 1996, the building became the Filipino Community Centre.

“I think it is important for any FIL-CAN community in Canada to have a common goal, team spirit and strong camaraderie to succeed in their projects”, claimed Milo Santos, president of the Filipino Community Centre in Windsor. “It was a good deal. We rented this building for only $1.00 a year until we were able to own it. We had the opportunity to rent this building but we did not have money to buy it. One board member suggested that we tell the community about this building and ask support, borrow money from them and pay them back later. We raised a lit bit of money and paid the mortgage of the bank. Everyone tried to help and everyone was excited. We did a lot of activities and renovated the building. We decorated this building like any other rental hall. We knocked out all walls and put new floor, put new air-conditioned, new heating with well equipped kitchen facilities.”

Nestled in the vast grounds of Northwood, the Filipino Community Centre has become a symbol of the FIL-CAN’s strong community spirit. “It was not an easy task to realize our dream,” claimed Victor Barrera, an engineer who was also instrumental in making the building renovations. “We were lucky to have various skilled workers who devoted their time and effort to renovate this building”.

Apart from making the centre a venue for social gatherings, it has also become a venue to promote the Philippine’s cultural heritage and talents. Jacqueline Griffin, cultural director of the Salinlahi Dance Troupe pursues with utmost passion in teaching the younger generation about the Philippine’s various ethnic dances.

During the recent 107th Philippine Independence Day celebrations held at Cleary International, members of the Filipino community believe they have very reason to celebrate: they have finished off paying their mortgage. And many Filipinos say, the centre should serve as a venue for them to gather around and talk about things that unite them, rather than issues that divide them.

“Now we can pursue our plans of building a gymnasium,” added the enthusiastic Barrera. “We need more fundraising activaties and hopefully more support from our people.

On July 16th, the Filipino Community Centre will host a “Salo-salo” gathering under the theme “Hello Windsor” wherein Filipino entrepreneurs, community leaders from various regions in Ontario will gather to meet the Fil-Cans in Windsor. All Filipino Canadians are invited to come and join the celebration.

Filipinos in Windsor have varied jobs with nursing and healthcare as the most popular ones. Some of them are also employed in the famous Windsor Casino while some are employed across the border in Detroit where the automotive industry is predominant. Windsor has a population of more than 200,000.