Updated: Jun 15, 2021
The plan to observe Filipino Heritage Month this June 2021 was conceptualized by Durham Filfest early in 2021. After our successful launching in 2019, we were determined to push on our goals to bring our community forward. Creating meaningful events like the Valentine Gala 2020, the Virtual Presentation 2020, whose viewerships reached over 10,000 and received tremendous accolades, was one of the many events we've successfully accomplished and many more are planned in the very near future when this pandemic is over.
Durham Filfest is lucky to have gained the trust of our friends and most members of the community, not just in Durham Region but in other areas as well. What is best to promote our community but to level up our projects and collaboration with like-minded individuals with dedicated networks? Despite this region's laid back culture, as families here are so content living a more relax, happy and peaceful life than those in the big city. Many former live-in caregivers reside here, after they got their landed status and with their families reunited after long years of separation. Some of them, in fact, already bought a house of their own. Amazing. Durham Filfest is reminding us all not to forget where we came from and to be able to preserve our heritage and culture.
Durham Region Filipino-Canadians has been making progress in becoming more independent in pursuing what they want to do in terms of their social life and their community projects. We want to stand on our feet with less, to no interference at all from other influential people who may look down on us. We can do things our own way, have fun and achieve our goals. We need to assert our place in the community that has the tendency to remember us working in other people's households.
It isn't shameful working as an OFW because most of us came that way. At the same time, assertion of our rights to be treated with respect is something we need to command and look up with pride. Filipino-Canadians, like all other races, made enormous contributions to this country. No one should look at us with averted eyes. Those days are gone. Filipinos settling in Durham Region are dreamers with wills and determination to succeed and live a happy, contented life. We make friends and build loving relationships with one another. Except those with differinng outlooks in life.
At this year's project, despite the veil of uncertainties that hang above us, Durham Filfest took the challenge with a grain of salt. The desire to elevate our presence in Durham Region by raising our very own Filipino flag at our Region's Headquarters was a longshot. But we succeeded to have our flag flown in celebration of June as Filipino Heritage Month.
The Regional Municipality of Durham did even more by making a Proclamation of June as Filipino Heritage Month 2021 in Durham Region. The Hon. John Henry, Regional Chair & CEO and his Council, showed us that we are home in Durham Region. And that our existence in this beautiful countryside, a haven of blinding landscape and lushes of green pastures and sceneries, matter.
And for seven (7) days, the Philippine flag proudly dances with the wind at one of the community poles in the Regional Headquarters of Durham, at the building's main entrance, alongside the Canadian flag. There is one more emotional touch, as our flag is also flying half-mast in solidarity of all the other flags all around the country and every flag in community poles, to mourn and to grieve with the rest of Canada for the 215 residential school children discovered. Isn't it an honour? It is...as we blend into the real meaning of diversity.
Are Durham Region Filipino-Canadians proud of this historic moment? Durham Filfest test the water by inviting Durham Filipino-Canadians to come around for a selfie. We do know that it was a difficult request knowing that we are not fully open. But we still toot our horns for a visit and take a selfie. Surprisingly, they came and proudly shared their photos which you can access at this official website.
We all came on separate cars and take turns taking selfies. This is a moment we cannot let pass, besides, we are all vaccinated. We cannot keep hiding yet we were cautious.
One of those who travelled to honor our celebration and proudly taking a photo, is Mrs. Rosemer Enverga, the wife of the late Sen. Tobias Enverga Jr. and Executive President of PCCF- Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation.
The late Senator was an avid supporter of our endeavors in Durham Region. The first (And only, so far) Filipino-Canadian Senator, showed his undying devotion of community projects and initiatives and never, never missed an event in Durham. It was this man whom I knew and learn what sincerity and dedication is about and his desire to be visible in our community. I knew him by heart, as he always showed up at our events. He has no inhibitions in blending with other guests, shaking hands and engaging them in candid conversations. The Senator could have been so proud of Durham Region's Filipino-Canadian community and the journeys we have taken. It was also his dream to put Durham on the map. I think we talked about building a centre for Filipinos in Durham. A distant dream and then he was gone. Yet his legacy remains...
We will continue what is best for us, not just in Durham Region, but all across Canada.