FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Filipino youth, women and workers celebrate a night of resistance and empowerment
Toronto, ON – February 7, 2010 – Filipino youth, women, workers and allies, numbering over 150 people, raised their fists in unity and empowerment at Toronto’s first ever “Roots, Rhymes and Resistance,” entitled “Turning Up the Resistance!” The event was organized by Magkaisa Centre’s three organizations, and was held last December 12th 2009 at the Arbor Room in the University of Toronto.
It was night of cultural resistance expressed through poetry, hip hop, song and dance to “celebrate the active role we’re taking in advancing the community’s struggle in Canada,” says performer and event organizer Mike Yambao aka MC Lyrical Abstrakt. He explains that the participation of people from the different sectors of the community sharing the common aim of empowerment sets RRR apart from any other Filipino-focused events. From its humble beginnings at a café in Vancouver over a decade ago, RRR is a powerful means by which the community aims to take pride in their long and proud history of community organizing.
Members of the Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada/Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance–ON, SIKLAB–ON (a workers organization) and the Philippine Women Centre of Ontario (PWC–ON), the organizations under the Magkaisa Centre, are both thrilled and humbled by the overwhelming support they have received from the community. “The enthusiasm of volunteers, organizers and the crowd was inspiring. It felt amazing to see everyone, especially the youth, come together to explore our issues together through creative means,” states Aila Comilang, one of the night’s hosts.
Recognizing common struggles as racialized communities in Canada, solemnity and solidarity filled the room as the Macaw Hawk Youth Council opened RRR with a hand drum song and a hip hop performance. The rest of the night showcased a myriad of talents: from MC Dagamuffin, Dos Armados, Marylou David, and Beambeam de Pedro. Members of the Magkaisa Centre also sang a collective piece called “12 Years in Canada,” a song depicting the 12 years of struggle a woman goes through working under and after the Live-in Caregiver Program. High school students from Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Newman performed and volunteered at the event as well.
Now making up the fastest growing immigrant group in the country, Filipinos continue to remain within the fringes of the Canadian economic, political and civic life. Over the past years, the Magkaisa Centre has been educating, organizing and mobilizing the Filipino community towards a just and genuine settlement and integration in Canada. “RRR was a space where we creatively expressed our struggles as a marginalized community. Our shared stories of struggle have been the foundation of our art and cultural productions,” says Comilang. “When you think about it, it’s as if we’ve been collectively preparing for RRR all our lives,” she concludes.
Just recently, RRR organizers and new members met to set the stage for an even bigger, national Roots, Rhymes and Resistance in May 2010. RRR in May will also be part of the Centre’s year-long art and cultural program called the Maleta