Regent Park Pinoys mark Heritage Month

Community News & Features Jul 26, 2019 at 2:10 pm

65470924_500100513863278_5126524933609881600_o (2)On Friday, June 28th a resident-led community group in Regent Park celebrated Filipino Heritage month. The outdoor picnic event was attended by a few dozen families from the Regent Park neighbourhood. The organizers opened the event with the singing of “Lupang Hinirang,” the Philippine national anthem, followed by the Canadian national anthem, “O Canada.” Mary Ann Kalalang, mother of two and event organizer, welcomed the attendees and community organizations in attendance. The program was filled with Filipino-inspired games such as “sungka” and “piko.” Eric Tigley, an elementary school teacher offered face painting and arts for children at the event.

“Do not underestimate the power of collective ideas, in them we build stronger and connected community” says Kalalang who originally came from Bacolod, Negros before immigrating to Canada in 2005.

65749084_500479153825414_8940425690247856128_n“It’s important for Filipinos to form a group or association in order to meet other people and get to know each other, also to share our culture to the Regent Park Community” says Miriam Domato who learned about the event through the flyers she saw in her neighborhood.

Jesson Reyes, a resident of Regent Park, co-organizer of the Filipino Regent Park group congratulated the attendees. “Let’s applaud ourselves for organizing the first Filipino community-led association here in Regent Park. Filipino families contribute to the social, cultural and economic fabric of Canadian society.”

The Filipino group was organized in September 2018, as a result of a series of neighborhood consultations during the Ontario provincial elections. Since then, the group has conducted a needs assessment meeting and a bartering event in November 2018 where members brought in their used items such as toys and clothing to share with other community members. This picnic was the third public event held by the group, and Reyes encouraged fellow members to attend the upcoming meeting of the association.

Regent Park is a rapidly-developing downtown neighbourhood which is currently going through the City of Toronto’s revitalization project called Social Development Plan. This initiative aims to transform Canada’s largest social housing community to a mixed-housing community.

65862810_500480257158637_513834940807249920_oMithi Esguerra, Filipino Program Worker at Support Enhance Access Service Centre (SEAS) and co-organizer of the event, hopes to work more closely with the Filipino community in the neighbourhood. “SEAS’s Filipino program is open to Filipinos all over Toronto. However, since we moved into our new Regent Park location last year, we’ve been trying to focus on our efforts at getting to know the Filipino community here and in the surrounding areas. It’s evident that there is a significant number of Filipinos here and as a social service agency, it is our duty to find out what their specific needs are so that we can respond to those as best as we can.”

The event was also attended by non Filipino residents of the neighbourhood.

Organizers encouraged members and attendees to attend the upcoming group meeting to plan for their next activity.

To volunteer or to be part of the association, you may contact Filipinos in Regent Park neighbourhood, email: Jesson Reyes-; Mary Ann Kalalang –

Next meeting: Sunday July 14, 5pm. SEAS 50 Regent Park Blvd.