Youth reclaim role in Philippine struggle

Community News & Features Sep 1, 2005 at 11:16 am

Youth reclaim role in Philippine struggle Filipino youth gathering in Montreal–a resounding success: Filipino youth in Quebec build higher unity! Over 80 Filipino youth delegates and observers havebeen inspired and energized by a gathering held in Montreal, Quebec for two and a half days (Aug. 19-21) where they shared their history of migration and experiences as overseas Filipino youth in Canada.

Under the theme of “Understanding our Past, Creating our Future: Filipino Youth Consultative Forum of Quebec,” the gathering brought local newly-arrived and second-generation Filipino youth, supporters from various local Filipino organizations, and Filipino youth representatives from Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, and New York City. The consultation gave Filipino youth in Quebec an opportunity to share their experiences, gain a better understanding of their reality, and continue to build their unity to carry on their work in the community.

The opening day activities began with a welcome address by Bernadette Baltazar of Kabataang Montreal and Tiffany Canto of Filipino Youth Committee of Quebec followed by a night of festivities.

The following day’s program included panel presentations, workshops, and a celebratory cultural night.
During the panel presentations, Charlene Sayo, founding member of Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada/Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance(UKPC/FCYA)-Vancouver described the ripe history of resistance and struggle that Filipino youth in Canada should embrace as part of their heritage. Sayo pointed to the First Quarter Storm (FQS) of 1970 as a paramount era of our epic history for it was an expression of political will and reflected the decade-long organizing work amongst Filipino youth and students. During the first quarter of 1970, Filipino youth and students joined with workers, peasants, and other oppressed sectors to pour into the streets of Manila in unprecedented numbers. Sayo said this is a tradition nurtured within the Philippines’ revolutionary history and practice of struggle. She challenged the participants to follow the footsteps of FQS activists like Lean Alejandro, a student leader that was killed by the military, and Professor Jose Maria Sison, who was the founding chairperson of Kabataang Makabayan, a patriotic youth organization.
Mithi Esguerra, founding member of UKPC/FCYA-Toronto, shared the Filipino community’s experience with racism and the tragic death of Jeffrey Reodica, a 17-year-old Filipino youth who was fatally shot by a Toronto police officer on May 21, 2004. She also called for the community to struggle against racism by breaking down the systemic barriers we face day-to-day, and at the same time remember that it should be within the framework of the anti-imperialist struggle.
From Ottawa, Aimee Beboso of the Carleton University Filipino Students Association, explained how Filipino youth are confronted with barriers to education. Many are placed in English as a Second Language programs and unable to enter post-secondary education because of low economic segregation. Beboso identified an absence of the accreditation system as one of the barriers because our youth cannot be properly employed.

Local youth community and labour organizer, Roderick Carreon, founding member of Kabataang Montreal, helped provide a framework to understand the problems that Filipino youth are facing in Montreal. Carreon shared how Filipinos are forced to leave the Philippines because of the worsening social, political, and economic situation. As a result, parents are forced to leave their children behind for years, only to be reunited as strangers. He also explained the challenges newly-arrived Filipino youth face in Canada such as adjustment difficulties to their families and a new society, racism in the education and justice system, and relegation to cheap labour.

The participants had an opportunity to discuss their personal experiences in small group discussions on the topics of family separation, racism, education, the historic role of Filipino youth.

The participants vowed to continue to educate, organize and mobilize more Filipino youth in their struggle against racism manifested in inhumane and unjust immigration policies and barriers in education and employment. They vowed to heighten their struggle for social justice and genuine development as Filipino youth and the entire Filipino community.

Some of their action-plans included continuing to build national unity amongst Filipino youth by sending delegates to the upcoming First Quarter Storm conference to be held on November 25 – 27, 2005 in Vancouver, B.C. “Ipagpatuloy: Living the Storm” They also identified a need to have a community centre to provide a gathering place for all members in the Filipino community including youth, women, and domestic workers.

The participants also discussed how their situation in Canada is connected to the economic, social, and political situation in the Philippines. They expressed a need to support the delisting of Professor Jose Maria Sison and help uphold the Filipino peoples struggle by supporting the call to oust fake Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who is the middle of an impeachment trial in the Philippine Congress for allegations that she cheated in last year’s elections.

On the final day, an inspiring solidarity message from Professor Jose Maria Sison was given, commending the youth participants for continuing the legacy of the First Quarter Storm to build a new and better world.

Professor Sison stated that the youth could only solve their problems by tracing their roots, cherishing their cultural heritage, asserting themselves against all forms of discrimination, uniting with other Filipinos in the Philippines and abroad, and working in progressive solidarity with other nations and people in the struggle for a truly democratic society against monopoly capitalism, racism, fascism and other forms of reaction.

The consultation organizers acknowledged the support given by local organizations Filipino Youth Committee of Quebec, PINAY Montreal, Filipino Parents’ Support Group, Centre for Philippine Concerns and Filipino Workers Support Group to help make this consultation a success.

Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada / Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance – Toronto Chapter
(647) 273-6553