On its final stop this summer, Canada Fiesta Extravaganza brought the Filipino community together in Montreal, Quebec for a taste of the celebration that other cities in Ontario have enjoyed.
This is the first year that a travelling Filipino festival was introduced to the Filipino Canadian community at large, and community leaders are excited to have witnessed the impact of such an event.
"I’ve been able to speak to the community and it’s been wonderful for them to actually have an experience where they don’t have to drive all the way to Toronto every single time, instead Fiesta Extravaganza is bringing the experience of our Filipino heritage and culture in different cities across Ontario and now in Quebec City," Member of Parliament Rechie Valdez said.
Montreal Fiesta Extravaganza event organizers Tenne Rose Dayandante and Michael Davantes also stressed the importance of the Fiesta Extravaganza.
"Eto po napaka importante dahil alam naman natin ang Filipino heritage, lalong-lalo na po sa mga kabataan na dito na lumaki, para po i-share natin ang ating kultura at tradisyon na ginagawa natin pag sinabing piyesta: kasiyahan, pagkain at syempre ipon-ipon ang ating kapamilya," Dayandante noted.
(This is most important because we know the Filipino heritage, especially to the youth who grew up here [in Montreal], we have to share the culture and tradition that we are doing during fiestas: the fun, food, and of course, gathering of our families.)
Davantes added, "Ipinakita rin yung collaboration and camaraderie. Pinakita talaga na buo ang bayanihan dito sa Montreal."
(We also showed the collaboration and camaraderie. We showed that the bayanihan here in Montreal is really whole.)
Stéphanie Valenzuela, the first Filipina Councillor in Quebec, also described it as a privilege to experience the celebration.
"As the City Councillor for Côte-Des-Neiges which is the borough that has the biggest, largest population of Filipinos in Quebec... it's truly such a privilege for us here as Montrealers to experience these festivities and to see our culture, our heritage, our food displayed in the Montreal setting," she said.
As Quebec is a predominantly French-speaking province, Filipinos in the province face some language barriers, especially with the recent passing of Bill 96 which reinforces the use of French in various settings and communications.
Some organizations are stepping up to help their kababayan thrive and keep the Filipino heritage alive.
"We, in the organization, would help the nurses not only to integrate into the nursing profession but also to help them language-wise... so we have these programs for them as well to help them learn French in a working proficiency level," The Filipino Nurses Association of Quebec co-director Aryanna Perbillo noted.
Various exhibitors also showcased their products and services, while some promoted their cause to gain community support.
"After the pandemic, we continued to strive for all these Filipino athletes because we want them to represent everywhere," UK Gilas Coach Pike Bundalian said. "As long as you are Filipino, you are always welcome with us."
The sense of community is noticeable at Parc Mackenzie-King, a popular spot for Filipinos as evidenced by the Jose Rizal monument. Many came to enjoy the festivity and eagerly awaited the iWantTFC Hour featuring Yam Concepcion.
"The Filipino community of Montreal is very close to each other. I think the Filipinos are more united in Montreal compared with other provinces," Eric Esplana, former President of Bicol Association of QC and former Director of FAMAS Center, shared.
Canada Fiesta Extravaganza will bring back the festivities next summer to more Filipino Canadian communities across the country.