FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Filipino-Canadian youth gather to celebrate the spirit of resistance
Toronto, ON – November 19, 2009 – The excitement builds up as Filipino-Canadian youth from all over Toronto are gathering for a full-day event to mark the 2nd anniversary of the rebuilding of Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada/Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance (UKPC/FCYA) – Ontario. To be held at the University of Toronto on November 28th, 2009, Palakasin ang Ugnayan: Tuloy ang Laban! Filipino Youth Continue the Legacy of Resistance aims to celebrate the advances and gains UKPC/FCYA-ON has made over the past two years. At the same time, the event serves as a reiteration of their call for a stronger local and national organizations that advances the struggles of Filipino youth in Canada.
On Andres Bonifacio Day in 2007, the first Palakasin was held, entitled Palakasin ang tunay na Uganayan! Strenghtening our Youth, Unite for Freedom! It was a province-wide youth consultation that laid the foundation to re-establish UKPC in Ontario. Following the event, a commitment to building a militant youth organization materialized through various educational and cultural initiatives, community mobilizations, and research projects. Now in 2009, UKPC-FCYA celebrates not only its growth in numbers, but also the positive impact it has made to community. “We have come a long way since the first Palakasin,” says Aila Comilang, one of the event’s main organizers. “Our members saw it fit to both reflect on and celebrate the empowerment we as students, young women and young workers have all collectively reached.”
A free public event, Palakasin will feature panel discussions on the presence of the Filipino community in Canada, the myth of multiculturalism and the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP), as well as testimonials from community members on their experiences under the LCP, racism in the workplace and young women organizing. Workshops will provide the opportunity to share experiences and strategize on more youth-led initiatives that will tackle issues on racism and young women’s issues. Infused with poetry, music and art, UKPC-FCYA envisions Palakasin to be the space that fosters true participation and active engagement.
Making up a significant proportion of the 3rd largest ethnic group in Canada, “Filipino youth continue to struggle with racism in the education system and in the workplace, high drop-out rates and outright police brutality,” according to the group. Their community research projects have also exposed the negative impacts of the federal Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) trickling down to the younger generation. Based on their work with Philippine Women Centre of Ontario (PWC-ON) and SIKLAB (a migrant worker’s organization), the group describes the racism, sexism and explicit social exclusion perpetuated through this program, that push the youth further into the margins.
But amidst worsening conditions, UKPC-FCYA has taken a position in redefining the role of Filipino youth in the community’s future in Canada. Ken Santos, a UKPC member, expressed that they draw inspiration from the “rich history of resistance generations before us have exemplified.” It is a history that goes all the way back from the anti-colonial struggles led by the Katipunan in the 1800’s, the First Quarter Storm during the Marcos regime to the resiliency Filipino-Canadian youth have demonstrated over the past 15 years. “It is only through recreating this legacy of resistance that we as youth can move forward towards the settlement, integration and full entitlement of our community in Canada.”
Palakasin ang Ugnayan! also serves as an educational tool to prepare the organization for an upcoming cultural show with PWC-ON and SIKLAB on December 12. “Roots, Rhymes and Resistance” is the year’s culminating event that will give voice to the different forms of violence that Filipino women face and the different ways that they resist against them. “Hopefully Palakasin allows Filipino youth to take action in improving our lives as a community, ultimately becoming catalysts for genuine social transformation in Canada,” says Comilang.
“Palakasin ang Ugnayan! Tuloy ang Laban! Filipino Youth Continue the Legacy of Resistance”
Saturday, November 28 2009, 10:00 AM – 6:30 PM
International Student Centre
33 St. George Street
University of Toronto, downtown campus
This event is free
Venue is wheelchair accessible