Migrante Ontario relaunched

Community News & Features Apr 13, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Leaders, members and supporters of Migrante Ontario.

Leaders, members and supporters of Migrante Ontario.

After a decade

By Ysh Cabana
The Philippine Reporter

TORONTO–It’s not always easy making ends meet when you live in a shoebox but the newly reestablished Filipino migrants group aims to carry out its tasks here and in the home front.
A celebration was held at a centre for Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) region 5 adorned with banderitas in Downtown Toronto on April 7 for the Migrante-Ontario general assembly and election of officers.

“You may be wearing warmer clothes and shiny shoes, but you’re just as exploited and abused,” Jecris Tubigon teased the crowd with his bon mot. “Even though you’re here, you are part of what’s going on in the Philippines.”

ecris Tubigon’s T-shirt has a message.

Jecris Tubigon’s T-shirt has a message.

He further explained that the conditions in the country that has been the major factor of people being pushed out of the country in droves.

“If there were no oceans, there will be no one left because of forced migration. It seems there’s no future because we haven’t even landed in the places to go, we’re already buried in debt,” added Tubigon that the number of both sea- and land-based Filipinos abroad are growing.

Youth group Anakbayan-Toronto spiced up the program with various cultural performances. In a play, members read through letters from a Pinay perspective on leaving one’s own child in exchange of caregiving work for another. Mae Janelle Berte also rendered an acoustic music with her composition “We can be anything”: “What if money was no problem/ And the colour of your skin was no issue/ Will you stay content at the bottom/ Or fly away to a better view.”

Being uprooted from the homeland, it’s the sensibility of organizing collectively wherever they may re-locate that is almost unique among members.

The new set of officers, from left:  Bayani Edades, Nancy Quiñon, Leny Rose Simbre,  Jecris Tubigon and  Mac Seguerra.

The new set of officers, from left: Bayani Edades, Nancy Quiñon, Leny Rose Simbre, Jecris Tubigon and Mac Seguerra.

Long-time labour organizer Bayani Edades shared the rich history of Migrante’s advocacy from case-to-case campaigns with the latest actions in response to Canada’s pathways to permanent residence. “Makikita lang natin ang ani kung masipag tayo ay maraming punla,” he stressed. (Our yield can only be within the purview of how many seeds we’ve planted.)

First launched in Toronto 2008, Migrante Ontario used to be an alliance of various groups, members had an extensive experience organizing temp workers, domestic workers, personal support workers, cultural workers, Cordillera peoples, migrant youth and overseas Filipino workers in various occupations as wide as the area from Barrie in the north to Niagara region in southern Ontario.

The group continues to operate its flagship media programs such as Radyo Migrante and TV Migrante. The changing conditions in Canada also prompted the creation of not-for-profit organization Migrants Resource Centre Canada with its mandate of “research, training and direct assistance to migrant workers and their families.”

Migrante-Ontario members expressed their commitment to take part in the movement for national liberation and democracy in the Philippines. With the assembly`s theme to “reinvigorate the Filipino migrant workers’ struggle for rights and welfare in Ontario,” the membership went through “back-to-basics” restructuring from an alliance to become a stand-alone chapter of its mother organization Migrante-Canada. The new set of officers elected were: Leny Rose Simbre (Chairperson), Mac Seguerra (Vice-chair), Jecris Tubigon (Secretary-General), Bayani Edades (Solidarity Officer) and Nancy Quiñon (Treasurer).

In an interview with The Philippine Reporter, chairperson-elect Leny Simbre said “Para maisulong ang karapatan at kagalingan lalo na ng mga manggagawang Pilipino, susuportahan natin kung anuman ang mga pangangailangan nila” (We will support whatever the needs of our fellow Filipino migrant workers for us to advance our rights and well-being).

Sa tingin ko naman, kung maitaguyod natin ang programa nandyan ang mga miyembro na patuloy na susuporta.” (As long as we have the collective support of our membership, I think we can carry out our program.)

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6 Photos:  Ysh Cabana

6 Photos: Ysh Cabana