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Toronto, ON – July 20, 2010 – Armed with the spirit of cultural resistance, more than170 Filipino-Canadian youth, women and workers filled the Arbor Room on the night of July 16 for “Roots, Rhymes and Resistance,” an annual cultural event hosted by the Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada/Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance – Ontario (UKPC/FCYA-ON). With this year’s theme, “Panahon Natin, Our Moment! Step Out, Stand Out!” the youth took centre stage to reaffirm their active role in shaping the Filipino-Canadian community’s future in Canada.
Showcasing multimedia presentations, song, theatre and dance from individual artists and collectives, these twenty performances depicted and celebrated the history and the resiliency of a community that strives for their just and genuine settlement and integration in Canada. Filipino-Canadians continue to face worsening conditions as they currently make up the 4th largest visible minority group in Canada. “It is the younger generation that inherits the marginalization of our community – we see this as our youth are pushed out of high schools, remain under/unemployed and experience poverty and racism,” says Alleben Purugganan, a member of UKPC/FCYA-ON and the Philippine Women Centre of Ontario. For her, RRR is about the youth seizing the opportunity to change this path. “We’ve never really had a moment,” she states, “as we’ve always followed a conservative tradition that either denies our reality or merely accepts the stereotypes imposed on our community. We are tired of this and we are creating a new culture that will make us youth count.”
One of the highlights of the night was a song entitled, “Inay,” performed by Vince Ledesma and Liphayette Hilado, the youngest members of UKPC/FCYA-ON. Their song of a child yearning for a mom who left home to work abroad was performed simultaneously with photos of their loved ones being projected in the background. As well, Veronica Abrenica shared her newly-produced short film “Anak.” Using a monologue first performed at last December’s RRR, the film exposed conditions of family separation, non-accreditation of professionals and economic marginalization. The night also featured the skill and talent of nine young and emerging emcees through a collective rap song on what it means for them to step out and stand out. Qara Clemente, Angela Abrenica and Walter Sanchez performed the song “All on You,” their remake of B.o.B’s “Nothin’ on You,” a fun and upbeat narration of the transnational lives of Filipino women around the world. UKPC/FCYA-ON also had the honour of having D.R.E.A.M. Dance Cru in this year’s line-up, as they rocked the second half of the night with an adrenaline-pumped performance.
“I had the great pleasure of sharing the stage with very talented performers, as well as truly genuine and focused individuals,” says Marcus Lomboy, on his experience in performing in RRR. “Those rare kind of people are hard to find, and I’m glad I was able to meet them,” he adds. Kitt Azores, a UKPC/FCYA-ON member, echoes Lomboy’s comments in saying that “It is having to share moments with people that are concerned with the establishment of a real and distinct Filipino-Canadian identity through collective struggle that distinguishes RRR from other cultural events.”
RRR may have provided a space for learning and growth for its participants. But more importantly, it was a chance for Filipino-Canadian youth to realize their collective potential to be at the forefront of social change. “We resist against the legacy of colonization and imperialism that continues to determine our lives,” states Azores, “For me, to step up and stand out means being able to conquer the challenges we face everyday.” The organization’s years of community work have revealed that Filipino-Canadian youth face systemic racism, marginalization and social exclusion. “To resist is to struggle and overcome these barriers,” he adds, “and ultimately, for our community to lead fulfilled lives.”
The night ended with the performers, organizers and volunteers all on stage singing the lines, “Ngayon, never give up the fight!” with their fists raised as they performed a song entitled “Step Up, Stand Out!” getting the audience all on their feet. “Filipino Canadian youth all over Canada are building a movement,” Purgannan describes, “And RRR is a testament to that!” Just this May, youth from UKPC/FCYA-British Columbia also hosted a successful RRR for Asian Heritage Month. Meanwhile, Kabataang Montreal, the organization’s chapter in Quebec, is getting ready to have theirs on August 6.
Upon reigniting the community’s legacy of resistance through RRR, all participants were left with more than souvenirs and are filled with a feeling of genuine militancy. “This is only the beginning,” declares Aila Comilang, one of the emcees and member of UKPC/FCYA-ON. Steeped in an awareness of their own history and current situation, Filipino-Canadian youth are more than ready to take their community’s future into their own hands. RRR was a celebration of the continuous growth of a dynamic youth movement, and is a testament of what is to come for the Filipino-Canadian community’s history in Canada.
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