Sunday, July 26, 2009



By: Migrante B.C.

It was a history lesson unlike any other. Told through archival and current images, nationalist poetry, songs and dances, the story of the Philippines and its people from pre-colonial period to the present is that of a proud and brave lineage and history. (Photo: Bibak dance group)

Organized by MIGRANTE B.C. in collaboration with the Vancouver Public Library's Multilingual Services, the July 12th event drew at least 270 people to the library's MacKay Room. Mothers with their toddlers and babies in strollers, school-aged Filipino-Canadians, seniors, families, neighbours and MIGRANTE members and supporters made it a truly community event –– and more, with the presencence of Canadian friends and guests.

MIGRANTE B.C. brought together local organizations and resource people for a program that showcased not only the community talents but also the network and community relationships that MIGRANTE B.C. has built up. Mable Elmore, the MLA from Vancouver-Kensington, gave a warm welcome to the audience and lauded the collaboration between MIGRANTE B.C. and the Vancouver Public Library.

The BIBAK men in their traditional G-strings and the women in their woven skirts danced to the sound of the brass gongs and opened the program; when they came out later for the finale, they had the children and adults in the audience joining them in the collective dance. As the bamboo poles pounded the floor, the young dancers from La Riva Dance Studio had everyone clapping and swaying with their Tinikling dance and, much later with their American- inspired modern dances. The Filipiniana Dance Troupe of the Ginintuang Seniors Brigade of B.C., in their Filipina dresses, wowed everyone with their Spanish- influenced waltzes and their agile footsteps. The new MIGRANTE B.C. Cultural Group performed a Muslim dance and an interpretative choreographed piece of "Ang Manggagawa" (The Worker).

"I have seen those dances before but not this way, where you contextualized them in history," said one of the seniors in the audience, impressed by the show. One woman remarked that she was pleasantly surprised to see the old and young generations of Filipinos represented in the community dance numbers.

Poetry was recited by Senor Paco Tejero who delivered Jose Rizal's "Mi Ultimo Adios" in Espanol which brought back memories of Spanish classes and memorization of that same poem to many Filipino adults in the audience. Aileen Villeta of the MIGRANTE BC Cultural Group recited two short pieces on the migration and hardships of Filipino overseas workers. MIGRANTE youth member Charisse Curata held everyone spellbound with her rendition of Andres Bonifacio's "Pag-Ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa" (Love for One's Native Land) and Rom Dongeto's "Isang Bansa Para sa Mga Bata" (A Nation for our Children) which tells of the one dream, one vision that all Filipinos share, which is to make the Philippines a nation for our children, wherever we may be.

Award-winning Artist Bert Monterona's two huge murals, "Continuing Revolution" and the "Historical Struggle," flanked either side of the wide screen and attracted a lot of interest, inquiries and admiration from the audience. Monterona, who now makes his home in Vancouver, is a Lumad from Mindanao.

A young Chinese student with a Filipino host family came away from the event with more clarity in her understanding of the situation in the Philippines and why she sees so many Filipino domestics in Hongkong. A father who came with his three young children repeatedly said that the presentation was very good, that it was the right length, and for a history lesson, "it was not at all boring!" "This should be shown widely to as many audiences because the understanding of Philippine history is very important," he suggested. Parents also remarked on how their young children listened attentively and watched the Philippine history on the screen.

Congratulatory telephone calls and e-mails from those who saw the show were made to MIGRANTE members with the suggestions to have it shown again! MLA or Vancouver Kensington Mable Elmore. who gave the inspirational remarks at the event, expressed her admiration and thanks for a program that was excellently done.

The library display of Tagalog books, DVDs and children's materials not only brought home the fact that the Vancouver Public Library has a Tagalog collection but also encouraged several members of the community to register for cards so they could borrow some of the display items. "I did not know you had Tagalog DVDs! I pay to borrow those at the Filipino video store!" exclaimed one MIGRANTE member, who immediately signed up for a library card. Delia Felipescu, the Multilingual Services outreach librarian, who worked with MIGRANTE for this event, spoke highly of MIGRANTE's collaborative work with the library and was thrilled to see an enthusiastic community turnout.

Indeed, everyone came away truly proud to be Pinoy/Pinay! For more information on how you can show the same history presentation to your groups, please contact Migrante BC at or call 604.408.0830. Migrante B.C web site:

For photos, please go to:

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