Celebrating Philippine Independence Day
in the time of Pandemic

Photos by Al Gamilla

On the anniversary of the 122nd Philippine Independence Day and Philippine Heritage Month, Fiesta Filipino led a "Bayanihan" caravan. Bayanihan is a Filipino word which refers to the spirit of communal unity, work and cooperation. The aim of the caravan joined by more than 30 vehicles is to distribute food packages to families affected by COVID-19 around the province.

"Today we celebrate Philippine Independence Day even if the times are tough. But instead of big parades and programs this year Fiesta Filipino chose to reach out to our community. We are showing today how a community should look like. We also ensured the safety of all the participants. Social distancing is observed and wearing a mask is encouraged." according to Vangie Caoile, Chairman of Fiesta Filipino.

Consul General Zaldy Patron represented the Philippine government at the event. He was joined by dignitaries from different ministries, members of the parliament and city council. Those who showed their solidarity were Minister Leela Aheer, Minister Ric McIver, Parliamentary Secretary Muhammad Yaseen, MLA Mickey Amery, MP Jasraj Halla and Councilor George Chahal.

The caravan traversed the main streets of Calgary starting from Makami College parking lot at Marlborough Mall going to Downtown Calgary and passing by the City Hall where volunteer Rey Guinsatao proudly waved the Philippine flag while participating cars honk and made noises in celebration of the Philippine Independence,  the caravan then proceeded to Peter Lougheed Hospital to pay tribute to all front-line health workers.

Philippine Independence Day was simultaneously celebrated in similar caravans in the towns of Wetaskiwin, Cochrane, Okotoks, Camrose, Stettler, and Brooks headed by different Filipino community organizations.

Fiesta Filipino started as yearly a three-day event celebrating the Filipino culture and heritage. But since it's establishment in 2016, The organization has had different project and campaigns including Youth Empowerment Program, an LGBTQ program called Bahaghari (rainbow), Filipino-Canadian Leadership conferences and Fiesta Filipino was one of the main proponents of campaign to declare a Philippine Heritage Month.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself recognized the contribution of Fiesta Filipino in a televised address, "If you want further example look no further than the Filipino-Canadian Community. In Surrey, the community set up a blood drive to pitch in. In Calgary an organization called Fiesta Filipino are raising money for care packages."

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