Pinoy youth in Toronto urged to pursue struggle for genuine independence in the Philippines
By Veronica C. Silva
Some Filipino youth groups in Toronto recently gathered for an afternoon of cultural presentations and talks to commemorate the struggles of Filipinos worldwide.
On the occasion of the third annual Diwa ng Kasarinlan event last weekend, Anakbayan-Toronto renewed their partnership with the Filipino Canadians Association at Ryerson (FCAR) to celebrate Philippine independence.
Organizers said Diwa ng Kasarinlan is held every July in time for the commemoration of the founding of the Katipunan, the revolutionary movement founded by Andres Bonifacio on July 7. The movement is considered the impetus for the Philippine Revolution that eventually led to the proclamation of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898.
Despite the distance from the Philippines and more than a century after the official declaration of Philippine Independence, the Pinoy youth in Toronto said they need to remind one another that they are still Filipinos by heart and the struggle for genuine independence back home still continues.
“We are trying to bring back the history of struggle of Andres Bonifacio at ng mga kasama niya sa Katipunan at ma-i-connect ito sa mga contemporary issues ngayon (and his companions in the Katipunan and connect these to recent contemporary issues),” said Rhea Gamana, chairperson, Anakbayan-Toronto, in an interview.
She also told participants: “We have to be proud of our history. We have to be proud of the struggles that our forefathers have done in the past and how are these connected to our contemporary times. We have to be proud of our history… that made Filipinos much stronger in advancing the struggles of today.”
Speakers at the event noted that the Filipino youth should continue to resist the exploitation and injustices that are still being experienced by our kababayans in the Philippines and abroad.
“Bakit pa rin tayo nag-re-resist? Dahil sa mga nangyayari sa Pilipinas, katulad ng kawalan ng edukasyon. (Why are we still resisting? Because of the struggles in the Philippines and what’s happening here (in Toronto), such as the lack of education opportunities.) Education is a right and not a privilege. This is what Anakbayan Toronto has always been pushing for,” said Gamana.
Speakers at the event raised some issues that should concern Toronto’s Pinoy youths, such as the exploitation of Filipinos in the Philippines and abroad, the struggles and challenges of immigrant Pinoy youths studying in Canada, and some health issues.
Christopher Sorio, vice-chair, Migrante Canada, noted that the annual event is significant for the youth in Toronto as the event is “one festival organized by the youth for the Filipino people.”
“A lot of Filipino festivals in Toronto are organized by old people for old people. So this is what makes Diwa a very meaningful and powerful message. Because we always say in the Philippines ‘Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng ating bayan.’ (The youth of the today is the future of the country.) And since we’re abroad, the future of the Filipino community in Canada.”
He urged the youth in Toronto to continue to resist the challenges facing Filipinos in the Philippines and abroad — challenges that include exploitation and the labour export policy of the Philippines that has seen almost 5,000 Filipinos leaving the country every day due to the lack of opportunities back home.
“This is why close to 600,000 Filipinos have gone to Canada – not for the snow, not for the CN Tower,” he added.
Paulina Corpuz of Philippine Advancement Through Arts & Culture (PATAC) also shared with the audience — composed of mature and Pinoy youths alike — some of the results of the study of Pinoy youths about their struggles about coping in Canada. The study was the Filipino Youth in Transitions in Canada (FYTIC), which revealed that Filipino youth are having difficulty successfully finishing post-secondary school.
Corpuz, a mother and candidate for trustee in the Toronto Catholic District School Board (Ward 12), said that as a parent, the study results are “alarming” since the study results show that among the different migrant groups, the Filipino youth are not doing as well as their counterparts in other migrant groups.
For its part, FCAR said it will continue to work with Anakbayan-Toronto to bring to the attention of Filipinos in Canada the ongoing struggles of the Filipino people.
“FCAR, we’re quick to jump on Diwa ng Kasarinlan. It’s a good way for us to show the youth, our students, the struggle (of the Filipino people), the history (of our people) in an engaging way,” said Willarie Maranan, cultural director, FCAR.
Cultural presentations included poetry reading from the literary anthology Akdaan, a song by Panday Sining, and hip hop songs by the Southeast Cartel.