Filipino language curriculum being developed for Alberta schools


    By Quay Evano

    The Alberta government announced the development of a K-12 Filipino language and culture curriculum during a meeting with Premier Rachel Notley and Filipino community leaders on Feb. 1 in Calgary.

    “The Filipino community has brought essential skills to our workforce and added so much to our social fabric,” Notley says. “Creating a K-12 Filipino language and culture curriculum will ensure this vibrant community can continue to grow.”

    Education Minister David Eggen says adding languages to Alberta’s school curriculum can have positive spin-offs.

    “Providing learning opportunities for students in a variety of language programs helps youth maintain their heritage, strengthen their cultural identity and build language and literacy skills,” Eggen says. “Strengthening language programs based on local need and demand can be an effective tool in addressing racism. In fact, this is one of the ways we’re acting on the feedback we heard, and commitments we made, in our government’s anti-racism consultations and report.”

    Filipino community leaders lobbied for the inclusion of the Filipino language and culture in the Alberta school program.

    Last year, the Alberta government declared June Philippine Heritage Month after receiving a petition signed by Filipinos from all over the province.

    At present, there are around 170,000 people of Filipino heritage in Alberta and is considered the largest and fastest-growing community in the province.

    Filipino culture and language teacher, Dolly Castillo, says this move by the government is another historic gift by the Alberta leaders to the Filipino-Canadian community.

    “This strongly demonstrates the respect for a culture’s diversity and uniqueness through its language,” she says. “Programs like this in still pride in students and their heritage and results in active and engaged citizens.”

    The Philippine Consulate in Calgary welcomes the Alberta government’s announcement.

    “That the expansion of the teaching of the Filipino curriculum at Alberta schools would open many opportunities to generate a deeper involvement of the Filipino community and ensure that generations of young Filipinos will continue to learn and appreciate their rich culture and unique identity,” the consulate stated. “This move will be a source of pride to the Filipino community. It will inspire them to become more productive and responsible members of the Alberta community. The Philippine Consulate General in Calgary encourages the Filipino community across Alberta to actively engage the local authorities regarding the introduction next year of the K-12 Filipino curriculum within the school districts where there are large Filipino student populations.”

    Since 1996 the Philippine Cultural Center Foundation has been teaching Filipino language and culture in Calgary.

    Classes are held Sundays from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

    According to the group’s website, “The PCCF, together with Alberta Education, Calgary Catholic School Board, Edmonton Catholic School Board, and Filipino Canadian Saranay Association of Edmonton and have developed a three- year curriculum that allows students to learn Filipino language and culture.

    Accredited Filipino language and courses are being offered to high school students as optional subjects. Non-accredited students are grouped according to age and knowledge of the Filipino language. Instruction time depends on the age level. An additional adult class is also provided for interested mature students.



    Filipino-Canadian Accepts NDP Nomination for Calgary-East

    Cesar Cala

    By Adrian Dayrit

    A Filipino Calgarian will be running for the New Democratic Party (NDP) in the upcoming Alberta election.

    Cesar Cala, a long-time resident of Calgary has accepted the nomination from the NDP to run for Calgary-East.

    It is currently held by independent Robyn Luff who was removed from the NDP caucus in November 2018.

    Calgary-East includes the following neighbourhoods: Abbeydale, Applewood, Penbrooke Meadows, Erin Woods, Forest Heights, Forest Lawn, Southview, and East Dover.

    “I want to support Calgary-East become a greater place to live, learn, raise a family, make a living and be part of a community” says Cala about his campaign focus.

    Cesar Cala moved to Calgary from the Philippines with his wife in 1996 and will be the first Filipino-Canadian to be an official candidate for MLA in Calgary and Southern Alberta.

    This nomination comes following the announcement by the provincial government to enact plans to add Filipino language and culture curriculum in K-12 schools.

    According to the provincial government “there are more than 170,000 people of Filipino heritage in Alberta” and is the “fastest growing ethno-cultural community in the province.”

    Cala co-founded several community-serving organizations.

    This is the first time he will be running for political office.

    “This decision did not come lightly nor quickly, but it was a decision that I cannot ignore,” he says. “I feel strongly that the next provincial election will set the path for our province for years, if not generations, to come. Who will win and form the next government is important but equally important is what will be the tone and the discourse of the election.”

    Cala has received several awards for his dedication to his community including the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for Unsung Heroes.

    “I am passionate about building welcoming and safe neighbourhoods and communities, free from racism and discrimination,” he says. “I want to see Filipino-Canadians be proud of our heritage, contributing to the province’s future and represented in the province’s civic and political leadership.”

    The election date will be set between March 1 and May 31. This will be the first election held after the Alberta NDP defeated the Progressive Conservative government in 2015.


    Fun Page


    It’s Time to Celebrate Fiesta Filipino



    By Chelsea Tan

    Photo by Rodel Lozano


    Imagine walking into old school Manila, through the iconic facades of the Manila Church and Luneta Park. You don’t have to make believe because of this year, because Fiesta Filipino is celebrating its 5th anniversary between August 31st until September 1st and will be recreating these landmarks in downtown Calgary.


    One can expect to see iconic Filipino monuments at the Olympic Plaza this year, get a taste of authentic street food, see world-renowned Filipino celebrities and experience the largest Filipino festival that Alberta has to offer.


    “In collaboration with Arts Commons, Fiesta goers will gain free access to an interactive, full-blown living museum showcasing artwork from Filipino artists when they enter the Arts Commons building,” says Vangie Caoile, a Fiesta Filipino organizer.


    Fiesta Filipino attracted over 66,000 guests last year, gaining attention from Filipinos, Canadians and people from all over the world.


    Food is a trademark of Filipino hospitality and this year 15 food vendors will indulge guests with unique and savoury flavors.


    Red hot chili pepper and jackfruit flavoured ice cream are some of the crazy treats that one can expect to try. Returning best-sellers will include delicious food from Max’s restaurant, Pacifichut Restaurant and Bakeshop, Adobo Experience (Memorial Drive) and Roc’s Grill, to name a few.


    There will be a “tambayan” area, a beer garden section for adults, which is a new feature at Fiesta. San Miguel Beer and snacks will be served in the tambayan area


    Younger guests can enjoy playing Filipino games at the Youth Zone.


    “Pabitin”, a fun and competitive traditional game will be played throughout the three-day event, as well as a spinoff of “The Amazing Race” for kids. The schedule for events will be posted on Fiesta Filipino’s social media accounts, so make sure to follow the official website (, their Facebook page (Fiesta Filipino 2019) and Instagram account (@fiestafilipinoyyc) for updates.


    Launching on Friday, August 30th, the Fiesta will be kicking off around lunchtime with food vendors and exhibitors to welcome guests. That night One Big Jam will be held on stage.


    Saturday will be busy from 10 a.m until 9 p.m with a major celebrity guest appearance from GMA Network’s star, Miss Lovi Poe. There will be Filipino cultural dances and performances on stage throughout the day.


    On Sunday, September 1st, Fiesta Filipino will proudly walk at the YYC Pride Parade to support the LGBT community.

    “We are partnering with a Filipino advocacy group called Bahag hari to make this happen,” Caoile says.


    Stage performances will be held to honor the LGBT community through a variety show, which will include a mini runway and comedy stints from various guests.


    Come early at 10 a.m. on Sunday to enjoy a fun zumba class until lunch time. In the afternoon, a second major celebrity guest, Mr. Ian Veneracion will be performing live onstage. Fiesta wraps up on Sunday at 8 p.m.



    Chicken Inasal


    By Chef Zac Ardena

    Summer is slowly winding down, so I’m trying to find as many excuses as I can to be outside and grilling! One of my favourite things to grill is chicken Inasal, a super simple Negros specialty, where my dad is from. Like kwek kwek, the chicken takes on a nice orange colour from marinating in annatto powder. For this recipe, I used a boneless chicken breast pounded thinner for a faster, more evenly grilled piece of meat.  Serve it with rice, grilled veggies and atchara, another Ardena household staple!


    2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved

    3 Tbsp brown sugar

    4 Tbsp annatto oil (this is made by infusing hot oil with crushed annatto seeds)

    2 Tbsp ginger, minced

    2 Tbsp garlic, minced

    1 stalk lemongrass, pounded and minced

    4 lime leaves

    ½ cup spicy vinegar or pinakurat

    2 Tbsp calamansi extract

    1 tsp salt

    Pinch black pepper

    Extra salt and pepper to taste



    In a medium-sized container, combine all the ingredients, saving 3 Tbsp of the annatto oil. Cover the container and let the chicken marinate for about two hours.

    Take out the chicken pieces and place between two sheets of saran wrap. Using a meat mallet (or a small pot or skillet), pound the chicken flatter until the entire piece is of an even thickness.

    Brush the flattened chicken pieces with the remaining annatto oil.

    Grill until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

    Cover with foil and let rest for five minutes. Then it’s ready to serve!






    by Tony Surtida

    Tony Surtida has been involved in the auto industry since 1990 and has had a long and distinguished career not only as a sales consultant but as a sales manager and finance manager as well.  He currently works a Finance Specialist.  His knowledge of the auto industry will be an invaluable tool for those in the market for a new or newer vehicle.  The insight he shares in this column is a culmination of years of experience which he hopes will provide information one needs to make an informed choice. 

    Kung Sasakyan din lang naman, ‘wag nang kung saan-saan pa.  Kay Tony Surtida na!


    How do you resolve car warranty issues?


    A previous client of mine, let’s call him Jefferson, called me last week to complain about being asked to pay for work done on his Jeep Cherokee, purchased a year ago, and supposedly covered by the “bumper-to-bumper” manufacturer’s warranty.  He was being asked to pay $462 – the cost to replace a defective electronic sensor, which was triggering his “Check Engine” light.  The service technician states that the part they pulled out of the unit was not an original Chrysler product and as such, was not covered by warranty.


    The problem here is that, aside from an oil change performed by a third party, the Jeep had never been serviced.  The vehicle never needed servicing, until now.  So, the news (that his Jeep had non-original component) came as a shock to him.  He didn’t know what to do…. He argued, first with cashier, then the technician, then the Service Manager, all to no avail.  HE WOULD HAVE TO PAY $462 IF HE WANTED HIS VEHICLE BACK.


    He calls me in frustration asking for my advice.  After a few hours and multiple phone conversations, here’s what I recommended:

    • Get a written statement from both the Service Technician and Service Manager, stating why he was being asked to pay.
    • Ask for the original component in question.  If they won’t release it, take pictures – to include the part/serial number.
    • Get details of the replacement part – including part/serial number
    • Keep a copy of your receipt
    • Prepare your own written statement, detailing everything that you remember of the incident


    Take the above information, and do the following (in this order):

    1. Email the dealer principle (Dealership Owner) and state your case.  Simultaneously,
    2. Write a Google Review and Facebook Review.  And finally,
    3. The Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP – a private institution tasked to resolve warranty claims thru binding arbitration.  This service is FREE OF CHARGE.


    Your problem will be resolved, one way or another.  You just have to fight for it.


    If you find yourself in a similar situation, CALL ME AT 780.710.4895. I CAN HELP.

    Filipino Family Seeks Support for Memorial Park


      By Darlene Casten

      A memorial park planned for five young people killed just over five years ago is almost ready to break ground, but the victim’s families still need financial support for the project.

      Filipinos Marlene and Lorenzo Hong say the park is a way for them and the families of the four other slain university students to be remembered in a happy space and they are looking forward to it opening, but another $450,000 is required to bring the project to completion.

      The Hong’s son, Lawrence, was one of Matthew de Grood’s victims. de Grood, who was having a psychotic break, stabbed five people at a get together celebrating the end of the university school year. Lawrence had just completed his last exam in at the University of Calgary, where he was taking urban studies.

      Lawrence’s brother, Miles, says the idea for a memorial park has been in the works for three years.

      “The trial had just finished a few weeks earlier so it was something to help us move forward and give back to the community that had helped us so much,” Miles says. “It was about moving forward, doing something positive, not dwelling in the negative.”

      The park, called Quinterra Legacy Garden, will be located near the spray park and playground in South Glenmore Park. It will include an area for performances, and outdoor musical instruments to honour the victims, some of who were musicians and dancers.

      Miles says Lawrence would love the park concept, in part because he loved biking.

      “Just having a place to gather together – that what my brother is about – having more engagement,” Miles says. “Anything that would have been done, he would have been happy. There will be lots of people being active, lots of people riding their bikes.”

      The families have been working with the City of Calgary and a landscape architect to design the park. The total cost of the project is $800,000 and the group has fundraised $350,000 to date. Miles says they can begin construction, but will need to fundraise the rest as the city requires a 20-year budget for maintenance of the park.

      The group is applying for grants and approaching business donors.

      The Calgary Parks Foundation is holding Parks Day Sept. 21 at Haultain Park, where people can vote for their favourite community project. The project with the most votes will get a $50,000 grant. Marlene’s mother says she hopes people will come out and enjoy Parks Day and vote for Quinterra Park.

      “We still need the public awareness that we still welcome donations,” says Marlene “There is still a lot of money the city needs us to have.”

      People who need a tax receipt can make a donation to Quinterra Park on the Calgary Parks Foundation website. There is also a Quinterra Legacy garden go-fund me page to make donations.





      Submission by Dolly P.Castillo

      You must have noticed that I started my last article with the earth element of water. I now follow it with my treatise on heat, fire, light – synonymous earth elements.

      Didn’t we all experience as innocent and inquisitive children the magnetism of light and fire? Even to the point of throwing all cautions to the wind and actually having our noses and eyebrows nearly sized by the flame.  Or the fascination of putting our finger to the middle of the flame.  How about the fireflies that we captured in bottles through the night, only to find the fire gone on their tails by day? Yes, the luminosity of lights and flames titillate our imaginations to mysteries beyond the obvious, the surface.  When the fire flames dance in undulating motions, the fascination increases for what move these flames like a life of their own.  True, the breeze or oxygen in the air stir the motions but still# our minds are curious whether there are eunuchs or dwarfs within, unseen by the human eye,

      Heat or fire is most beneficial when provided in manageable doses. This is so when specifically used to either heat the body, our food, our homes, our environment, especially in the dead of winter or the rainy season. On the other hand, extreme heat can zap the winds out of our normal bodies, generate unusual ailments that are not experienced before.  The devastating forest and brush fires due to extreme heat attributed to the much-scapegoated climate change have altered innumerable lives in destruction, despair and hopelessness.  Just because these catastrophes have not reached our backyards, that we can remain aware yet unresponsive.  This earth element is the concern of each one be it for their usefulness ir destruction.  We cannot take for granted that as long as we benefit, that’s all we care.  Prevention and vigilance in handling fire or heat behooves each one the correspondent responsibility in handling it right.

      The other kind of heat is that which is generated in the human soul.  It translates into compassion, kindness, humility, and most of all the ever warm and hot sensations of love.

      This is the kind that can inflame and transform, that can move mountains and scale the skies.  True and authentic love is human and most of all, divine.



      Consul General Zaldy Patron, Newest Philippine Consul General for Alberta and Saskatchewan


      by: Quay Evano

      Just like the definition of his last name, the newest Philippine Consul General for Alberta and Saskatchewan Zaldy Patron is definitely a person and a government official who gives his utmost support and service to his fellow Filipinos, Filipino organizations, causes and activities wherever they may be.  In his illustrious 23-year career as a diplomat, he has worked tirelessly for his kababayans and for the Philippines in different posts and responsibilities around the world.

      Prior to his posting in Calgary in April 2018 as Deputy Consul General, he was Consul then Deputy Consul General in the Philippine Consulate General in New York, U.S.A. from 2008 to 2014. From 2002 to 2005, he was the Second Secretary and Consul in the Philippine Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil and from 1999 to 2002, he was Third Secretary and Vice Consul in the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. While in Indonesia, he received a plaque of appreciation from the Directorate General for Immigration of the Republic of Indonesia in December 1999 for helping Indonesian authorities “arrest a human smuggling syndicate sending illegal foreign nationals to various countries, including the Philippines.”

      Consul General Patron was the Executive Director of the DFA-Office of ASEAN Affairs from 2015 to 2018 where he got heavily involved in the Philippines’ Chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2017. He helped manage the Philippines’ relations in ASEAN and became part of the various Philippine delegations to the ASEAN Summits, ASEAN Ministerial Meetings and ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meetings. He also served as Senior Assistant to the Philippine Representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).

      From November 2014 to June 2015, he was a Senior Special Assistant in the Office of the Director General for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) National Organizing Council under the Office of the President.  His other assignments in the DFA included being a Director for Institutional Relations and for Functional Cooperation in DFA-ASEAN from 2005 to 2008. He also served as Special Assistant in the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs, Principal Assistant in the Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs, Acting Director in the Office of Protocol, and Principal Assistant in the Office of Policy Planning and Coordination.

      Consul General Patron was born in Tuktukan, Taguig City but both his parents come from Bagong Pook, San Jose, Batangas so he considers himself both a Taguigeño and Batangueño.  He graduated valedictorian from Taguig Elementary School then took his high school in Pasig Catholic College.

      “Graduating valedictorian in elementary gave me the confidence to aim for higher and bigger things,” says Patron. “My father wanted me to become an engineer so for some time that became my aspiration. In college, I first started as BS Agriculture student in the University of the Philippines Los Baños campus, then shifted to BS Economics. I finished BS Economics, Major in Development Economics. I finished my MBA from Ateneo De Manila University Graduate School of Business.  Entering and surviving UP were also great achievements by themselves.  When I already joined the world of professionals, I sometimes look back at my past experiences to remind myself of the things that I am capable to do.”

      As a proud UP alumni, ConGen Patron brings with him his UP education and experience wherever he goes.

      “UP education goes beyond the four corners of the classroom. As I was trying to pass UP’s very competitive courses, I also got exposed to various social issues and became active in different student organizations and campus activities. UP taught me how to be analytical and resourceful. It was in UP that I developed people skills and leadership. These training, experience and qualities served me well in my work during the past 23 years as a career diplomat. “

      Consul General Patron’s career with the Department of Foreign Affairs was started with a chance meeting with a former UPLB classmate.

      Agahan 2019


      By Dolly Castillo

      Sunday heralded a bright and sunny day with clear skies and gentle cool breezes – a most fitting ambiance indeed for the fourth year celebration of Stampede breakfast – Filipino style.  The food consisted of the popular and loved sinangag ( white rice sautéed in golden brown garlic), longganisa hamonado, baby hotdogs, scrambled eggs with tomatoes, pandesal ( soft bread), coffee, and juices.

      Hospitality started with free admission as long as you line up between 7 – 10 AM or until food lasts, smiling and cheerful servers, orderly movement of seemingly endless lines of people of all ages and nationalities.  The spirit was one of gaiety, lightheartedness as each partakes of the typical heavy Filipino breakfast.

      Music with singers and bands, dances, welcome and thank you speeches of the hosting Philippine Festival Council of Alberta – PFCA together with the commercial establishment donors headed by Pacific Hut restaurant and other surrounding the 17th Avenue parking lot graced the festivity till closedown time.

      Satisfied smiling visitors were all thankful with their expressed “Salamat po”.

      The sense of community was clearly felt and demonstrated in this one celebration of food, music, fun, and all around goodwill.



        by Tony Surtida

        Tony Surtida has been involved in the auto industry since 1990 and has had a long and distinguished career not only as a sales consultant but as a sales manager and finance manager as well.  He currently works a Finance Specialist.  His knowledge of the auto industry will be an invaluable tool for those in the market for a new or newer vehicle.  The insight he shares in this column is a culmination of years of experience which he hopes will provide information one needs to make an informed choice.  Kung Sasakyan din lang naman, ‘wag nang kung saan-saan pa.  Kay Tony Surtida na!

        Q – I have two boarders now living with me who are FOREIGN WORKERS.  They’ve been here for almost 2 years now.  They have very good stable jobs and in fact just got extensions on their contracts.  They each need a vehicle.  Will they qualify for a car loan?

        A – “FOREIGN WORKERS” by definition are individuals hired from outside the country to perform a function for a specific period of time (typically 2-year terms).  They are non-immigrants and are issued SINs that start with “9”.  Generally speaking, banks will not grant loans to non-immigrants with “9” SINs.  Especially CAR LOANS, for a number of reasons.  Most obvious of which is the fact that they are in the country temporarily and could lose their jobs anytime and be gone in the blink of an eye.  In fact there have been many unreported cases where foreign workers are sent back to their home countries, and businesses (utility providers, cell phone companies, property management) are left to deal with unpaid bills.  However, banks or lenders do make exceptions.  For example:

        • The foreign worker has established credit, and/or
        • The foreign worker has established residency, and/or
        • The foreign worker has the income to support the loan, and/or
        • The foreign worker has money to use as down payment, and/or
        • The foreign worker has ties to the community, and/or
        • The foreign worker has a co-signor, and/or
        • The foreign worker is a professional (licensed or ticketed), and/or
        • The foreign worker has job security (contract)

        If you are a foreign worker and you can satisfy any three of the above conditions then I CAN PROBABLY GET YOU APPROVED FOR A CAR LOAN!

        Let me share a story with you:  About a month ago Rizza was referred to me by a friend who works at another car dealership. Rizza is a temporary foreign worker who works as a nurse at one of the local hospitals.  She’s been in the country for less than a year and she’s been trying to buy a car and has been to few dealerships.  Unfortunately no one’s been able to get her approved. To make a long story short, we worked her file, found an angle and got her approved for a car loan.  She’s now driving a SUV, enabling her to lead a normal, productive life.

        CEFA celebrates the 121st Philippine Independence


          by: Tony Surtida & Marilda Kane

          The Council Of Edmonton Filipino Associations (CEFA) has been around since 1989.  It has always been, and continues to be, an instrument of harmony among Filipino-Canadian associations in our city. The Council utilizes a transparent approach to its operation and believes that being unbiased is essential towards inter-societal relationships. Also integral to CEFA are communication, optimism, compassion and empathy.   Above all else CEFA is a family, an assemblage that strives to work collaboratively to celebrate and support the voice and aspiration of the Filipino Community in the greater Edmonton area.

          Thru the years, CEFA has spearheaded the Philippine Independence Celebrations employing a variety of activities all intended to bring focus to this very important event.


          On June 22, 2019, the Council of Edmonton Filipino Associations (CEFA) celebrated the 121st Philippine Independence Day at the River Cree Resorts and Casino, Enoch.   It was a celebration unlike any we did before.  We went all-out….. live-band, DJ, décor, and the food were plentiful and surprisingly very good.  Everyone had a wonderful time (many stayed until the band played their last selection!).

          We will be hard-pressed to duplicate what we accomplished this year, but we will do our best to bring an even bigger event next year.

          The Executive Officers, Advisers and countless and dedicated CEFA volunteers wish to thank all our supporters, patron and donors for your support.  We also wish to thank our sponsors, particularly Rick Mallett of James H. Brown & Associates, Mr. Rob Victoria of the Honda Club, Stephen Bosch of Desjardin Insurance, Shirish Chotalia, Art & Science Dental, Dental Oasis and Swish Dental without your financial support we would not have been able to pull this off.  Thank you, one and all!


          Calgary Weather

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