Culture is as essential to our lives as roots are to a tree; it is the sum of all forms of thought, ideas, and beliefs that are a part of us, just as they are a part of those that have come before us over the course of centuries and generations.
On October 30th, 2018, Motion 155 (or M-155) — brought forward by noble MP Salma Zahid — was unanimously passed in the House of Commons, officially designating the month of June as Filipino Heritage Month all across Canada, far and wide.
Why is this important for our culture?
We believe this is a pivotal moment in time for Filipino-Canadians, not because we feel entitled to such recognition, but because we are finally being provided a chance to harbor and cultivate a deep appreciation for our roots; a chance to reflect on how far we have come as individuals and as a humble people who have left the place we call home in hopes for a better life.
Now is our time to come together in solidarity and support for one another; to celebrate our accomplishments, to enrich and uphold the culture from which we have emerged, and to flourish and contribute within this beautiful Canadian cultural mosaic.
Why is it important to recognize our culture?
It is widely accepted that the largest export of the Philippines is, in fact people – not only to Canada but also to many the parts of the world. This in itself is a reflection of the Filipino character: resilient, perseverant, and adaptive; we are chameleons to our environments. But as inspiring and admirable these traits are, it cultivates the mindset that the culture and community to which we belong to are the very same things we are trying to escape; leaving home and working abroad harbors the mentality that we have escaped a life of poverty, perhaps even giving us a feeling of success and superiority.
Although this may hold truth, this mentality is belittling to our community and waters down our rich, splendid culture. We may also become ignorant to certain issues or parts of our culture that may not be so pleasant – the idea that it is no longer our problem because we are no longer part of it.
This is evident in our tendencies to assimilate to other cultures, especially in the Western society – meaning we change or mold ourselves to fit into the world around us whether it be through our behaviours, attitudes, trends, fads, beauty standards, and even within the entertainment and media industries. But our Filipino culture has so much more to offer than simply mirroring the culture of others and blending into the background, all at the expense of silencing the voice within us.
It may be uncomfortable to accept all parts of our culture, but understanding and appreciating our unique strengths, perspectives, and ideas can only help us to become stronger as a whole.
As we move forward in celebrating our culture, we hope that you will join us in our endeavour in spreading a wide-cast support system for one another, all across the country!
We will tell stories of our shared past, encourage cultural and social engagement, and provide a platform from which we can all grow and flourish as a strong and cohesive community.
Appreciating our culture, as well as the cultures of those around us, will help in creating a just and equitable society – it starts with breaking down barriers and putting our own differences aside…only then can we make a lasting difference, for us, and for generations to come. •