On spiritual asphyxiation, women’s empowerment and Duterte’s trolls
By Joyce Valbuena
“When you just do everything routinely and you think you’re okay but you’re not okay, then you are just going through the motion. That happens to us when we have no spirit in what we are doing – we are apathetic, depressed and burnout. We go in the motion but there is no joy, no life, no meaning as if there is a cloud in your head,” says Sr. Mary John Mananzan, an activist-feminist nun and is one of the rare radical Catholics in the Philippines.
Last March 11, members of Pinay and Migrante in Montreal had a close encounter with the very outspoken Sr. Mary John in a community forum held at the Immigrant Workers’ Centre. A lot has been written about her outstanding work in the women’s movement but listening to her personal reflections is a lot more stirring.
Sr. Mary John, now 79 years old, has given birth to a lot of women-centered programs including the Institute of Women’s Studies, the Women’s Crisis Center, as well as the militant Philippine women’s organization, GABRIELA.
In an hour and a half of presentation on “Spiritual Vitality”, she overwhelmed the audience by her humility as she unfolded some of her enormous achievements in women’s rights advocacy and her charities.
Sr. Mary John’s presentation started with a topic about asphyxiation. “Yun para bang sinasakal? (As if you were suffocated),” she exclaimed in Tagalog. By definition, asphyxiation is when the blood cells don’t deliver oxygen to the body which results in impairment in the body and brain that could lead to death.
Sr. Mary John said she became curious about the word asphyxiation the first time she read about it from a book about priests and nuns having nervous breakdown. In her personal reflection, “The human spirit also needs to breathe air. When there is insufficient amount of air, our spirit suffocates and our spirit dies. We need to know the symptoms of spiritual asphyxiation.” She added that even religious people suffer from that and it is important for activists to be aware of it.
According to Sr. Mary John, symptoms of spiritual asphyxiation include being rigid, inflexible, easily hurt, restless and sensitive. Spiritually asphyxiated people have lots of guilt feelings, full of grudges, lack of interest, bitter, vindictive, quarrelsome, irritable and impatient.
For instance, she said that when you are spiritually asphyxiated, you take everything so seriously. “Akala mo kung sino kang Cleopatra (You think you are Cleopatra). Everything is so serious like you are carrying the whole weight of the world on your shoulder. And nobody can joke with you. You become joyless. And then you become judgmental and self-righteous.” She said that in the convent, for instance, there are nuns who have lots of complaints on everybody. She even joked to one of them, “Sister, the problem is that you think you’re always right, and that is what is wrong with you.”
Opposite to spiritual asphyxiation is spiritual vitality or when someone has lively interest in everything. “Everything interests you. You want to know everything on what happened. You have a passion. There is a cause that you want to live and die for. Like us our passion is the empowerment of women,” she eagerly explained.
Sr. Mary John shared example characteristics of people who are spiritually vital – zealous, energized, inspiring, joyful, natural, sincere, accepting and understanding. They are spontaneous, humorous, benevolent and have zest for life.
People who are spiritually vital are also calm and have serenity. “The quietest part of the storm is the eye of the storm. That’s why in the Indian Ocean when there’s storm, the ship is in the middle of the ocean. When we are agitated, we need to get into the center of ourselves. Meditation is good for our health and spirit – for Christians, Catholics, Buddhists, Muslims, or whatever religion,” she explained that meditation or praying need not be one hour long or inside the Church. “You can just sit and close your eyes for 10 minutes to meditate. You just need to go inside you,” she added.
“Even activists need to have inner peace so we can be stronger in fighting the system,” she also added.
Sr. Mary John also shared her perception of Pope Francis, “One of the most beautiful things I love about Pope Francis is when he said that the duty of the Church is not to pronounce dogmatic or moral statements. The task of the Church is to heal wounds and warm the hearts of the people. His whole way is radical Christian. But he is not radical Christian in doctrine. He is radically Christian in the way he acts, he loves and simplicity in his life.”
Sr. Mary John concluded, “When we are spiritually alive it means we are living in God. We are passionate, creative and enthusiastic people. We know how to grieve and forgive. Rather than becoming sour and bitter, our hearts are filled with gratitude. Most importantly is that we have a great inner peace which nothing and no one can take away from us.”
Sr. Mary John also shared some of her thoughts about President Duterte. “He focuses on one thing – the drug war – because in Davao he considers it as his legacy of success. Whether it is true or not, it became his obsession,” she clarified his objection to extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
She added, “What is happening now is like martial law without declaration. For example, passing death penalty law for the third time. Those who voted against it were removed from their position. Where is democracy in that? He even publicly said that if you vote against death penalty you will be dead.”
Sr. Mary John said she got half a million bashing from the supporters of Duterte when she went and talked at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes Cemetery) to protest Marcos’s burial there. However, she said she was inspired by the presence of the millennials (youth) who have shown commitment to say never again to Martial Law.
“But I have to credit President Duterte for initiating the peace talks and designating progressive cabinet members such as Judy Taguiwalo who is also a feminist,” Sr. Mary John said as a final remark before signing autographs on her books.
The forum was organized by Migrante Quebec, PINAY, Filipino Parents Support Group, and supported by the Centre for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC). Sr. Mary John was visiting Montreal at the invitation of Development and Peace where she spoke in a conference. She also joined the International Women’s Day celebration and demonstration in Montreal last March 8.]]>
By Lui Queaño
TORONTO–Joanna Corpuz, the President and CEO of immigration and fingerprinting business Gino International, and the wife of embattled businessman Eugene Deocareza, defended her husband and denied all allegations that her husband sexually assaulted anyone.
Eugene Deocareza, 47, was arrested and charged by Toronto Police Service Monday, March 13, with one count of sexual assault for allegedly assaulting a 28-year old woman. The woman claimed she was sexually assaulted while her passport photo was being taken in the Bathurst-Wilson area on Saturday, March 11.
Deocareza was ordered to appear in court on April 27 to answer the accusation against him, the Toronto Police news release said.
In a phone conversation on Wednesday, March 22, Deocareza’s wife maintained that her husband was innocent and denied the allegation. “We just want the truth to come out. Wala po kaming itinatago (We are not hiding anything). We are in good faith na wala siyang ginawa (he did not do anything). We’ve been doing business for a long time. Don’t worry lahat ginagawa ng lawyer namin dahil wala naman siyang ginawang masama (our lawyer is doing everything because he did not do anything bad),” Corpuz said.
Despite the accusation against her husband, Corpuz said her family is very much supportive and full of love for Deocareza. “Hindi naman po siya guilty kung anong mga accusations ang sinasabi nila sa kanya. Kung anuman ang iniisip nilang masama.. sa ibang tao maraming nag-iisip ng masama sa amin. Dahil umangat na kami.. yun lang. Noon po walang-wala po kami, nagsikap lang po kami para tumulong sa ibang tao. Wala po kaming ginagawang masama. (He is not guilty of the accusations. Whatever they think bad of him… other people suspect us of bad things. Because we have already lifted ourselves from before… that’s it. Before we had nothing, we tried our best to help other people. We’re not doing anything bad.)” Corpuz added.
Many in the Filipino community have been following the Deocareza saga after his arrest in Bathurst-Wilson area — the site of the famous Taste of Manila (TOM) food festival. Deocareza was a former board member of TOM and was an appointed auditor by its chair and founder Rolly Mangante.
Mangante, however, belied reports that Deocareza is still a member of his group Taste of Manila (TOM) but he admitted that for a time he was once an officer of the organization and later quit from his post.
“Actually ang performance niya ay regular lang naman. He participated as our board of director. Aside from board of director, siya ang in-assign kong auditor ng Taste of Manila. He’s doing his job before pero small short time lang naman kami. He did not stay… na ibig sabihin maliit lang naman ang pagsasama namin. Dahil nagkaroon na nga nang alegasyon… yung nagkaroon siya ng hindi magandang ano.. especially doon sa aming Board of Director na si Bong Capitin. Meron siyang hinaharap na cases dito kay Bong Capitin one of our Board of Director also. Nasa kaso pa,” said Mangante.
In January 2015 Deocareza quit from being one of the directors of TOM for unknown reasons. Later in March of 2015, Deocareza allegedly barged in the TOM office on Bathurst and Wilson, looking for Mangante and created a commotion in an ongoing meeting. The two have been friends and business partners for years but the relationship turned sour after the incident.
“I do not talk to him. He doesn’t talk to us. Wala na po siyang relasyon sa (he has no relationship with) Taste of Manila. Ang masasabi lang namin (what we can say) as a community, we watch the television on CP24. Doon na lang po ang binabasehan naming kung ano po ang kalagayan niya (we rely on that on his condition). Doon na lang po kami nag-rely na may ginawa siya (we rely on that that he did something) because of the published report of the Toronto Police doon po sa kanyang alegasyon na yan (about that allegation),” said Mangante.
Recent published news reports claimed that Deocareza is an officer or former officer of the Philippine Press Club of Ontario (PPCO). PPCO President Rose Tijam could not be reached for comment.
On June 2, 2012, Deocareza was elected member of the PPCO board of directors, according to a news item from The Philippine Reporter website. Shortly afterwards, Deocareza, with other officers under the presidency of Ricky Caluen, resigned from his position and has not been an active member of the press association, according to reliable sources in PPCO.
“It’s been observed that stories coming from a couple of critics of PPCO had emphasized Deocareza’s involvement with PPCO while ignoring the fact that he resigned his position in PPCO many years ago. In fact, he has not been active in the events of PPCO for years too,” said an active member of PPCO who preferred not to be identified.
“In their recent stories, they intentionally omitted mentioning the fact that Deocareza was a board member of Taste of Manila until January 2015, while he ceased being an officer of PPCO shortly after he was elected in June 2012, which they did not mention. It only shows their malicious intent to malign the PPCO while currying favors with another group,” the PPCO member added.]]>
By Michelle Chermaine Ramos
Taste of Manila founder and Philippine Cultural Community Centre Chairman Rolando Mangante confirmed Manny Pacquiao’s attendance at this year’s upcoming summer festival. With an impressive growth in attendance from approximately 75,000 in its first year in 2014, last year’s Taste of Manila attracted approximately 350,000 visitors drawing people from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds to get a taste of Filipino food and culture in the heart of Little Manila along Bathurst Street and Wilson Avenue in North York. The annual festival has always been well attended by Canadian government officials but 2016 was the first time a Prime Minister graced the event.
Justin Trudeau delivered a speech on cultural diversity wearing the barong Tagalog he received from the APEX summit in the Philippines the previous year before he mingled with the crowd. Media coverage of the charismatic leader taking selfies with visitors and donning an apron at a stall to try his hand at cooking Filipino food brought worldwide attention to the festival. Government officials back in Malacañang Palace could not help but notice the Taste of Manila’s significantly growing success due to the Filipino community’s collaboration and strong presence in Canada that Mangante received a direct congratulatory email from Malacañang which led to talks about President Rodrigo Roa Duterte possibly visiting this time.
This year’s festival on August 19 and 20 is expected to be the biggest yet with international boxing superstar and Senator Manny Pacquiao confirming his attendance as a guest speaker during his meeting with Mangante. This is sure to draw an unprecedented massive crowd of Pacquiao fans from outside the Filipino community to the local street festival. In a video Mangante showed this writer, which he recorded during his meeting with Pacquiao this past January, the senator sends a personal message to his fans in Toronto. “Hello to all the people in Toronto, Canada. How are you there? I hope to meet you there and I can come there. Thank you so much for everything and all the prayers and support. This coming August at Taste of Manila, I hope I can join you to celebrate that occasion and thank you and God bless you,” he says.
Mangante also excitedly hinted at the possibility that Philippine President Duterte will be gracing the event along with an entourage of government officials after Mangante personally invited them during talks about the Taste of Manila when he visited Malacañang. With Duterte’s war on drugs, extrajudicial killings and controversial statements raising international ire on the issues of human rights, his potential visit raises the question of what security measures will be implemented for crowd control. This is in addition to the logistics required to accommodate the certain substantial influx of Pacquiao fans who will be flooding into the festival to get close to the champ. As of now, there is no confirmation yet about whether or not the City of Toronto will give permits to expand the stretch of road closure from last year to allow more space for this year’s growing foot traffic to the festival.
Booths are still available for local and international businesses to rent which will be totalling approximately 127 -130, space permitting, as the board is still working out what games, rides and other activities will be included. The main annual attraction at the event is the presence of Filipino celebrities as the highlight of the entertainment programme. When pressed for hints of which stars might be visiting this year, Mangante said they are still in talks. ABS CBN has supported the Taste of Manila for the past three years but as of now, there is still no confirmation regarding which network or celebrities will be participating. As always, the entertainment programme will include performances by local talents including cultural dances by traditional folk dance groups and indie artists. Local artists who wish to perform at the festival this year should keep an eye on the website for an announcement on auditions.
Now that Mangante has signed a contract to host a radio show with My Radio Toronto set to launch on March 18, he will be more accessible to the public. When asked about what feedback the Taste of Manila board has received over the years in terms of improving the event and what changes they are implementing, Mangante replied, “We are acknowledging all those comments and suggestions. Kung meron man magagandang suggestions at comments, they are welcome. Sino pa ba ang magtutulungan kundi tayong magkababayan.”
For more information, visit http://www.tasteofmanilatoronto.com]]>
Carlos Bulosan Theatre’s play ANAK:
By Lui Queaño
The recent staging of the play ANAK by Carlos Bulosan Theatre (CBT) at the St. Paul’s United Church in Scarborough, without doubt, opened up a discourse on the impact of migration on the Filipino family.
The play, the audience finds out, depicts the struggle of the Tomas and Villanueva families against what these families probably see as modern Filipino Canadian norms. There are apparently two groups of norms tackled. One is around the unexpected pregnancy of Carmen’s (portrayed by Belinda Corpuz) daughter Irene (Isabel Kanaan); the other, around the gender issue of Connie’s (Alia Rasul) son Peter (Anthony Raymond Yu).
Carmen and Connie, we gradually realize, are sisters, which explains the closeness of the two families, and lets us know that this traditional custom of above-all, family-first, to the apparent exclusion of other Filipinos, is being followed. There are focal scenes, accordingly, that we know we can look forward to in this breaking-tradition plot – first, how Irene finally tells her mother Carmen about her pregnancy and how the mother responds. Likewise we look forward to a second scene where Peter tries, like Irene, to tell both his parents the truth about him – his true sexuality- but it is a focal scene which never fully materializes in the play. Why this is so is not very clearly answered by the play, and the audience is left mulling: is the gender issue more difficult than the first? Or is it because the mother is more vehemently “traditional”?
If we backtracked a little, because we have observed that Carmen and Connie seem to have opposing characters in the first half of the play, we also look forward to another focal scene, between the sisters. Carmen, despite her tense and emotional personality, is herself more open to adjusting to change than Connie is, who is controlling and always expects things to go her way.
Certainly, the play gives a close-up chronicle of the lives and struggles of two Filipino families through the lens of the children (mga Anak), Irene and Peter, and this makes the stories interesting because they are the ones primarily suffering from the quandary of not wanting to hurt their parents but needing to accept themselves, at the same time wanting the acceptance of their parents.
There is one facet that however was much overlooked – one that would have made the plot more interesting: the story of Carmen, the mother who had taken unconventional means to make way for her daughter’s future. Had the story of Carmen been given more attention the play would have then developed into the narratives of the migrant struggles reflective of the collective experience of the Filipino community in Canada. In the play, Carmen lost a job and this would have been a good provocation to dramatize her plight as a domestic migrant worker who is actually a nurse by profession.
In her confrontation with her sister Connie, their respective backgrounds as migrants could have been developed further, and the story could then have blossomed into a full testimonial play about Filipino migration in Canada.
The play for all its worth did succeed in its presentation of how the two Filipino families overcame the clash of culture breaking away from the traditional to modern familial culture in a foreign land. In a way, the play presented the realities by which families are ambushed by migration that has impacted their traditions and culture. The question however remains unanswered: whether the dialogues and narratives in the play are believable and are legitimate as the suffering of most migrant families at least within the context of labor migration.
If there was even a conscious effort to relate the play to the plight of struggling migrant families, the plot of the story could have been expanded to serious issues facing migrants while living and working in Canada. Narrowing the play into the stories of pregnancy and the issue of sexuality proved to be lacking in comprehensive analysis of the social realities into which the migrant families are subjected to. The power of the narratives in the play could then be a source of critique to the Philippine government’s Labour Export Policy that has devastated Filipino families even after migration to Canada.
The play showcased excellent talents that got them connected to the audience. The portrayal of Belinda Corpuz as Carmen was excellent and could reach a level comparable to the much-respected stage actress in the Philippines, the late Adul de Leon. Corpuz came out the best actress on stage with her in-depth dramatization and intelligent execution of her character. Corpuz’s range of emotions manifest the hope, aspiration, frustration, despair and anger that dwells in the tone and substance the play tries to convey.
The other actors also gave commanding performances, like Connie’s natural acting on stage in a confrontational scene with Carmen and Derrick’s comedic performance while singing ‘Strangers in the Night’ complete with dancing. Both Irene and Peter, on the other hand, acting-wise are way ahead of their generation – cognizant of the complexity of their characters on stage. They not only told their stories but affected the audience and moved them.
In the end what matters most is that the audience believed what they were seeing on stage. And as Leon B. Aureus said , “Our collective efforts and experiences have produced a wealth of stories with purpose and meaning – stories of love, generation gaps, communication barriers, inequality, struggle and triumph.”
Director Aureus used various creative devices which are derivatives of the western culture/discipline that not only helped capture the dramatization of the play but further enhanced the innate creativity of his actors. Both the dramatic mode as well as the narrative mode of the play helped the audience grasp the story which the play represented – including the voices of women, as apprehended through the action, narrative and emotion that his actors gave under his direction.
And indeed, who knows – maybe one day a legitimate theatre like CBT could become a real venue and avenue of people’s theatre that stages not just a mimesis of a human experience borne out of workshop exercises, but one that truly represents the aspirations and dreams, struggles and victories of our land and our people.]]>
The Open for Justice campaign, organized by a faith-based social justice organization, KAIROS, is bringing to Canada five delegates from the Philippines, including political, faith and indigenous leaders. The delegates will visit six cities from March 20 to April 5 to ask the Canadian government to address the issues on human rights violations and resources extraction projects in the Philippines by Canadian mining companies. The group also aims to generate diplomatic support for the ongoing peace talks between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front.
The delegation will visit the cities of Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary, Montreal, Winnipeg and Toronto.
Delegation members include:
• Bishop Antonio Ablon, Philippine Independent Church (Anglican), Zamboanga del Sur
• Carlos Zarate, Member of Philippine Congress (Bayan Muna PartyList); Chair, House Committee on Natural Resources; Vice-Chair, House Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity
• Anie Bautista, National Coordinator, Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines (EcuVoice)
• Eufemia Campos Cullamat, Indigenous leader from Mindanao
• Nenita Condez, Subanen (Indigenous) woman leader from Mindanao
In Ottawa, the delegates and representatives fromKAIROS and the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability will meet with a number of Parliamentarians to demand the Government of Canada to appoint an extractive-sector Ombudsperson to monitor Canadian mining operations overseas, and to facilitate access to the Canadian courts for non-nationals who have been harmed by the international operation of Canadian companies. The members of the Parliaments whom they will meet include:
Gary Anandasangaree, MP/Liberal
- Member, Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration
- Member, Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs
Kyle Peterson, MP/Liberal
-Member, Standing Committee on International Trade
Celina Caesar Chavannes, MP/Liberal
-Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development (Dr. Anie Bautista, EcuVoice)
Michael Levitt, MP/Liberal
- Chair, SubCommittee on International Human Rights
Cheryl HardCastle, MP/NDP
John MacKay, MP/Lib
Public events and forum in each city are scheduled where the delegates will share first-hand accounts of human rights violations in the context of mining projects in the Philippines, including violations of Canadian-owned companies. The delegates will also be meeting with Parliamentarians, Church representatives and community leaders in these six cities.
Mass at Christ Church and Saint Bernard de Clairvaux, with sermon given by Bishop Antonio Ablon
The mass will be followed by a Q&A with the congregation
Sunday, March 19, 10am
101 rue Symmes Gatineau (Alymer) Quebec
Roundtable: War on Indigenous peoples in the Philippines
Examining the struggles of the Lumad People of the Philippines against mining and development aggression
Monday, March 20, 3-5 pm
083 Tabaret (Senate Chambers University of Ottawa)
Meet & Greet Luncheon
Tuesday, March 21, 12:00 – 2:30 pm
Great Hall, Christ Church Cathedral, 439 Queen Street
Filipino Indigenous Peoples Speak Out: Our Land, Our Right and Our Peace
Wednesday, March 22, 6-9pm
Public Service Alliance of Canada, 233 Gilmour Street
Thursday, March 23, 9-10:30 am
Charles Lynch Press Gallery, Room 350-N, Centre Block
Building Peace in the Philippines
Saturday, March 25, 5-8pm
FCJ Centre, Auditorium, 219 19th Avenue SW, Calgary
Public Forum: For a Just and Lasting Peace
Saturday, March 25
University of Calgary, Professional Faculties Building Room 3257
Public Forum: For a Just and Lasting Peace
Sunday, March 26, 1-3pm
University of Alberta, Education Building, ED129
11210 87th Avenue, Edmonton (University LRT)
Community Dinner and Short Presentation of the tour
Friday, March 24, 6pm
Immigrant Workers’ Centre, 4775 Van Horne Avenue, Suite 110
Bishop Ablon to Join in Leading Worship
Sunday, March 26, 10am
Beaconsfield United Church, 202 Woodside Road, Beaconsfield, Quebec
Community Dinner and Public Forum with Philippine Solidarity Friends
Sunday, March 26, 5pm
St. Columba House, 2365 Grand Trunk St
KAIROS Montreal Ecumenical Gathering
Sunday, March 26, 6-8pm
Christ Church Cathedral, 635 Saint-Catherine Street West, at McGill Metro
Impacts of Mining and Conflict on Indigenous Women and Communities in Mindanao
Wednesday, March 29, 7-9 pm
Sir William Stephenson Library, 765 Keewatin St., (Bus # 30717 and/or 30810)
KAIROS Cambrian Agassiz – MEET and GREET
Building a Just and Lasting Peace in mining affected Indigenous communities in Mindanao
Sam’s Place, 159 Henderson Hwy (Bus #41 Henderson Express)
Brown Bag Lunch: Mining and the Peace Situation in the Philippines
Friday, March 31 1-1pm
Presbyterian Church in Canada, 40 Wynford
Public Forum: Organized by Migrante and Anakbayan
Saturday, April 1, 2-5 pm
OISE Room 5-620 Bloor St.
Ecumenical /Solidarity Gathering, Reception and Presentation
Tuesday, April 4, 7-9 pm
Mary Ward Center, 70 St. Mary Street
For more information about the Open Justice campaign and the Philippine delegation itineraries, visit Kairos website at http://www.kairoscanada.org/
Delegation includes a Member of the Philippine Congress, Anglican Bishop and Indigenous activists
OTTAWA–Make the overseas operations of Canada’s mining sector open for justice and ensure that Canada plays a leadership role in the Philippines’ peace process are two key requests a five-person KAIROS-sponsored delegation from the Philippines will bring to Members of Parliament and the Canadian people, March 20 to April 5. The tour will take them to Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal.
Hailing from the heavily mined Philippine island of Mindanao, the delegates will include Representative Carlos Zarate, a Member of Philippine Congress and Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources; Bishop Antonio Ablon, Anglican Church/IFI, Zamboanga del Sur; Dr. Anie Bautista, National Coordinator, Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice); Nenita Andes Condez and Eufemia Campos Cullamat, Lumad women leaders.
The delegates will share first-hand accounts of human rights violations in the context of mining projects in their country, including Canadian-owned operations. They will also join KAIROS and the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability in calling on the Government of Canada to appoint an extractive-sector Ombudsperson to monitor Canadian mining operations overseas, and to facilitate access to the Canadian courts for non-nationals who have been harmed by the international operation of Canadian companies.
People claiming harm from mining activities in the Philippines face a corrupt and inaccessible judicial system and fear reprisal from security forces and paramilitary groups. This problem is repeated in other countries in the Global South, notably in Central America and Africa.
The delegates will also build support for the ongoing peace talks between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front.
“The Government of Canada should play an important, leadership role in securing justice and lasting peace in the Philippines by supporting the formal peace talks between the Government of the Philippines, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), and Moro liberation groups,” says Jennifer Henry, KAIROS’ Executive Director.
According to Bishop Ablon, national security policies implemented by the Philippine government to protect foreign (including Canadian) investments and large scale development projects are contributing to increased poverty and conflict, and having a negative impact on the social, cultural, economic and political rights of the Filipino people.
“We want the Philippine laws and armed forces to protect and promote the Filipino people’s civil, socio-economic and political rights, not international trade and investments at the expense of those rights.” Says Bishop Ablon. “Members of resource rich communities in Mindanao are being driven from their lands and from their sources of food and livelihoods into situations of hunger and poverty. People’s rights are being violated and some people who choose to stand their ground are being killed.”
“Canada is committed to international peace and security and it provides considerable political and financial support to Canadian extractive companies abroad,” says Connie Sorio, KAIROS’s Migrant Justice and Asia-Pacific Partnerships Coordinator. “By creating a robust system of corporate accountability, Canada can help improve the lives of people living near mines while also enhancing the image of the Canadian extractive sector abroad.”
The delegates will be in Ottawa and on Parliament Hill from March 20 to 23, and will meet with officials of Global Affairs Canada, Parliamentarians and other civil servants.
In 2014, KAIROS Canada’s Philippine Learning Tour visited communities in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur on Mindanao that are impacted by the mining operations of TVI Resource Development Inc. (TVIRD), the Philippine subsidiary of Calgary based TVI Pacific, Inc.
After gathering information on TVIRD’s operations from community members, TVIRD representatives and government officials, members of the learning tour called on the Philippine government to investigate all claims of human rights abuses and to cease all mining operations until the safety of the local people could be assured. It also called on the Government of Canada to appoint an extractive-sector Ombudsperson and provide legislated access to Canadian courts for those harmed by the international operations of Canadian resource extraction companies.
MEN’S FASHION 4 HOPE
By Veronica C. Silva
What’s common between fashion models, a politician, sportscaster, athletes, business executives? For one night in March, some of the who’s who in Toronto’s society strut the runway with professional models and designers to support a charitable cause.
Toronto’s Men’s Fashion Week 2017, aptly nicknamed TOM, again played host to the Mens Fashion 4 Hope celebrity fashion show that raised funds for SickKids Foundation through the Kol Hope Foundation for Children.
Jagmeet Singh, Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament (Bramalea-Gore-Malton), New Democratic Party, once more shared the runway with professional model Jason Mason and media personalities, including TSN host Nabil Karim, HGTV host Scott McGillivray, TV host Phil Guerrero, Big Brother Canada Houseguest Aneal Ramkissoon, and fashion journalist Glen Baxter.
It was a comeback for Singh, Mason and Baxter who have previously supported the fundraiser, which was already on its sixth season.
Businessmen and professionals, including Bay St. litigation lawyer Michael Alexander and condo developer Brad Lamb, CEO of Lamb Development Corp., also walked the runway.
They were joined by athletes, including Adam Van Koeverden, world and Olympic champion kayaker; James Yurichuk, professional football player and founder at Wully Outerwear; and Misha Cirkunov, UFC fighter.
Fashion designer and Project Runway Canada winner Evan Biddell also shared the limelight last March 7 with home designer-builder Carlo Rinomato, founder and CEO of Design Generation Homes. These industry icons were joined by Robert Ott, professor of the Ryerson University School of Fashion and former executive of The Jones Group.
This season raised at least $23,000 through onsite and online collections, including funds matched by sponsor Marriott Traveler. Online partner was Goodpin.
Melinda Rustia, president of Kol Hope Foundation for Children, was elated at the “kind hearted and very generous donors” of the Mens Fashion 4 Hope.
The Kol Hope Foundation was founded to support children bornwith disabilities and chromosomal disorders. The Kol Hope Fund at Sickkids particularly focuses on raising funds for the SickKids Genetics Department.
Kol Hope Foundation was founded in memory of Kol Rustia, grandson of Melinda Rustia and son of Jeff Rustia, founder of TOM. Kol was born with Trisomy 13, a fatal genetic syndrome, and passed away in 2011.
Since 2014, the Kol Hope Foundation has been working with TOM to bring fashion and charity for a worthy cause.
The 2017 Canadian Hillman Prize went to Min Sook Lee for her groundbreaking TVO documentary, Migrant Dreams, which profiles a group of migrant agricultural workers who were lured to Canada by promises of high-paying greenhouse jobs only to find exploitation, surveillance, and intimidation via the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
Migrant Dreams, which Lee wrote, was co-produced by her and multi-awarded film producer Filipino-Canadian Lisa Valencia-Svensson.
The following were lifted from the website of the Canadian Hillman Prize:
Min Sook Lee has directed numerous critically-acclaimed social documentaries, including: My Toxic Baby, Donald Brittain Gemini winner Tiger Spirit, Hot Docs Best Canadian Feature winner Hogtown, Gemini nominated El Contrato, Badge of Pride and Canadian Screen Award winner The Real Inglorious Bastards. Min Sook is also an Assistant Professor at OCAD University where she teaches Art and Social Change. Min Sook is a recipient of the Cesar E. Chavez Black Eagle Award for El Contrato’s impact on the rights of migrant workers, and Canada’s oldest labour arts festival, Mayworks, has named the Min Sook Lee Labour Arts Award in her honour. More recently, in 2016 she was awarded the Alanis Obomsawin Award for Commitment to Community and Resistance.
Lisa Valencia-Svensson is an award-winning documentary film producer based in Toronto. Her first feature length documentary Herman’s House won an Emmy for Outstanding Arts & Culture Programming and was broadcast on the PBS documentary series POV. Migrant Dreams is her second feature. She has associate produced several films, including Emmy-nominated The World Before Her, which have broadcast internationally and have screened and won awards at festivals including TIFF, Tribeca, and Hot Docs. She recently joined the producing team for Untitled Jennifer Laude Documentary. Her passion is for film projects which explore issues of inequality and social justice, and which encourage audiences to view their world through a constructively critical and creatively unique lens.]]>
By Michael Avila
Felicidad Varona known as “Nanay Pili”, “Auntie” or “Super Lola” has become one of the newest centenarians as she celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends in Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines. Nanay Pili lives with her family Willy, Zenaida, Mervin, Carla, Karen, Neil and Chali. She was born on March 4, 1917, the youngest of 15 children, when Philippines was still an American colony.
She survived World War 1, World War 2, and more recently the horrific Yolanda or Haiyan typhoon that devastated Tacloban City in the Philippines. Yes, SuperLola endured a category 5 super typhoon at 96-years old.
What is amazing about Nanay Pili is that at 100 years old she is generally healthy, mobile, vibrant, dignified and energetic. She goes to church weekly, eats independently, hand washes her own clothes, tends to her plants, cracks jokes and has many friends. She is an inspiration to us all who are just trying to survive the day-to-day living. A beacon of hope to many who know her.
What’s her secret to her youth? You will be surprised: having Coke, ice cream and cake, and a strong faith in God by starting her day with prayers.
Happy Birthday Super Lola!
MEAL DELIVERY For Toronto East Seniors
Heart to Home Meals launches new franchise for Canada’s fastest growing demographic
TORONTO–A unique food service for seniors is now available in the eastern part of Canada’s largest city. Starting on Monday March 13, door-to-door delivery for Heart to Home Meals is available in Toronto East.
The new franchisees are Kate and Jerome Ubalde. “We wanted to find a franchise that benefits our community, as well as being a great business opportunity” said Kate Ubalde.
Kate and Jerome emigrated from The Philippines in 2008 after the family was relocated by Jerome’s employer. Kate worked as a doctor in her native country and by nature wanted to find an opportunity working in the service-caring industry.
“We did a lot of homework to find something that would be the right fit for us,” said Kate, “and the more we found out about Heart to Home Meals, the better it felt.”
According to the President of Heart to Home Meals, Michael Gazer, demand for the meals is soaring but he insists franchisees look beyond the bottom line. “We are going into the homes of people who rely on us, so it is important for everybody in our company to understand we are more than a food delivery service.”
According to Statistics Canada, the number of people 65 and older will double to 9.6 million, nearly a quarter of Canada’s total population, by 2031. And most surveys suggest, many seniors want to live independently.
The area covered by the new franchise goes from the Scarborough-Pickering Line west to Victoria Park (below the 401). North of the 401 it goes west from the Scarborough-Pickering Line to just west of Yonge Street topped off at Steeles Avenue.
About Heart to Home Meals:
Heart to Home Meals meets individual dietary needs and customers can choose from a range of more than 200 different items using a full-colour menu catalogue. There are no contracts or commitments and delivery is free in most cases. The delivery service provides an additional point of contact for seniors who want to live independently. Experts in home and seniors care have noted the importance of having a regular check-in and visual inspection, especially for those with mobility issues. Heart to Home Meals is based on the highly-successful concept out of the UK called Wiltshire Farm Foods that has been in business for more than 25 years.]]>