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Concert fundraiser “Roots Rhymes and Resistance” ignited Filipino Canadian youth’s collective voice of militant resistance against cutbacks
Roots, Rhymes & Resistance: Laying Tracks Against Cutbacks, a set on Flickr.
For immediate release
Toronto, ON—Filipino Canadian youth once again prove that their spirit of cultural resistance is alive and thriving through the successful cultural fundraiser show, “Roots, Rhymes and Resistance: Laying Tracks Against Cutbacks” (RRR), presented at the University of Toronto’s Hart House Music Hall on July 28th to a crowd of over 140 participants. Organized by Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada/Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance–Ontario (UKPC/FCYA–ON), RRR laid a creative platform for youth, women, and workers to voice their struggles against the current storm of cutbacks and austerity measures set forth by neoliberal policies in Canada.
The event showcased many performers who shared their music, dance, and theatre talents. They portrayed the commitment of Filipino Canadian youth to depicting our histories and current realities–particularly our struggle for genuine settlement and integration in Canada. Especially present was the message of resistance against the impacts of cutbacks and neoliberal policies that continue to marginalize the community. “RRR provided a platform for many talents to get together and collectively resist the austerity measures that affect us all,” said Rei Marcos, a UKPC/FCYA-ON member. “The effort to collectively expose the neoliberal agenda was inspiring, especially when conveyed through performances like spoken word readings,” he added.
Throughout its 15-year history, RRR has continually inspired and involved youth, women and workers to lay down a path for social change and is a testament to the growth of the progressive Filipino Canadian movement. This year, the concert also marks the conclusion and culmination of the “Balik Ugat Balik Komunidad (Back to our Roots, Back to the Community)” workshop series, which aimed to provide an understanding of neoliberalism from the context of Filipino Canadian transnationals. RRR also served as preparation and concert fundraiser for the upcoming national workers’ conference, “Workers’ Struggles Amidst Neoliberal Globalization.”
The night began by remembering those who have fallen victim to systemic violence and racism that youth of colour experience on an everyday basis, particularly the two victims of the recent Danzig shooting Joshua Yasay and Shyanne Charles. “It is important that we’re reminded how youth of color make up a largely marginalized sector in Canadian society, and that cutbacks in social programs only serve to further marginalize us”, asserts UKPC-ON member Kitt Azores. Following the moment of silence, a message delivered by Victoria Barnett from Stop the Cuts network emphasized the need to continue building resistance to address the increase of cutbacks and other attacks on public service currently being implemented across Toronto. UKPC/FCYA-ON Secretary General Ken Santos then read out a message of solidarity from Youth for Nationalism and Democracy in the Philippines highlighting the connection between the struggles against the neoliberal agenda both in Canada and in the Philippines and why we should continue to struggle together along working class lines.
The Hart House Music Hall was filled with the audience’s excitement and anticipation for what turned out to be an electrifying set, performed by a wonderful group of Toronto’s young talents. Hip-hop artist Dagamuffin and his feature guest JXP set the tone for the evening with their performance of “My Folks.” Originally a spoken word piece, the piece has evolved into a powerful song which portrays the realities faced by Filipino Canadian youth, namely those of systemic marginalization and of their militant resistance. Exploring similar themes, arts collective Sinag Bayan Ontario then performed an educational skit that depicted narratives drawn directly from the experiences of Filipino temporary workers, students, and Live In Caregivers and captured the attention of the audience.
The event’s talented group of performers—which included Plaitwrights, The Vanguards, Amelorier, Scott Ramirez, JLatte, and FenaxiZ—captivated the audience with their voices as they took to the stage with original song renditions, spoken word pieces, and hip-hop beats. Moreover, performances by Vince Ledesma, Angelica and Olivia Daroczi, Nicko Monte, Miranda Abis, Maritoni Oponda and Liphayette Hilado, all members of UKPC- ON, also showcased their talents. “The strength in a community comes from everyone’s collective work,” says Maritoni Oponda, adding, “it is very fulfilling to contribute something alongside people who share a similar vision of an empowered community. We really hope to make next year an even bigger and better event and to empower more and more of the youth to educate and express themselves.”