Throughout the city, a group of residents warmly
ollowing the Second World War, Filipino nursing students began entering the United States. On expiry of their American visas, a small number came to Canada and settled in Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, and Vancouver. Nurses and laboratory technicians were employed by the six major teaching hospitals in Toronto. Many sponsored their spouses and families for immigration to Canada. In the late 1960s, young professionals unable to find work emigrated from the Philippines, and as a result of martial law introduced in their homeland in the 1970s, a large number of clerical and manufacturing workers also entered Canada.
Members of the Toronto community moved into the Maitland and Yonge streets area, and the St. Jamestown area, close to the hospitals and offices where they worked. Close by were Catholic churches frequented by the community: St. Basil’s Church on Bay Street, Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Sherbourne Street, and the Holy Family Church on King Street. More recently, members of the community have settled in Crescent Town and Massey Square on Victoria Park, along the Danforth, in Thorncliffe Park near Don Mills, and in Mississauga, Brampton, and Markham.
Many members of the community are employed as nannies and domestics. Filipino entrepreneurs have added to the city’s commercial sector with food stores, craft shops, travel agencies, and hair salons found along Queen Street West and in other parts of the city.
EASTER is an especially festive occasion for Toronto’s Filipino community. The 2,000-year-old rite of Salubong is celebrated just prior to Easter Sunday with church services. The Lenten season is observed with solemnity and great devotion, with different activities scheduled each day of the Holy Week. On Good Friday, friends and relatives gather to re-enact the passion and death of Christ by quoting passages from the story of the resurrection and pasyon (singing).
SANTACRUSAN. On the last day of May, a procession representing biblical characters winds through the streets of the city—the culmination of the Flores de Mayo. The Santacrusan is a religious celebration honouring St. Helena, the Greek Emperor Constantine’s mother who travelled in search of the wooden cross on which Christ was crucified. The last figure in the parade is a girl dressed to resemble Queen Helena, carrying a small cross and escorted by the young Prince Constantine.
INDEPENDENCE DAY. On July 4, 1946, the United States of America granted the Philippines independence, freeing the country from centuries of Spanish rule. Philippine Independence Day is on June 12 because on that date General Emilio Aguinaldo (President of the First Revolutionary Government of the Philippines) first announced the independence of the Philippines. Filipinos in Toronto hold a parade starting at City Hall and ending with a fiesta celebration in a park followed by a dinner dance. On the eve of the celebration, a gala ball is held.
CHRISTMAS sees gatherings of family and friends and includes lantern contests where prizes are given for the most colourful and symbolic lanterns. Children dress up as pastores (shepherds) and perform plays depicting the nativity scene for which they are awarded gifts. Filipino groups like the Kagayanons, Culture Philippines, and the Carolinians sing Christmas carols as a fund-raising event for worthy projects. Filipinos traditionally kiss the hands of elders to earn blessings.
DANCES. Throughout the year, cultural groups, such as the awardwinning Fiesta Filipina Dance Troupe, perform dances like the maglalatik, featuring male dancers who play bamboo shells that are attached to their bodies; the pandango sa ilaw, a dance that creates a festival of lights performed with oil lamps; and the itik itik, which imitates the movement and rhythm of ducks.
ATIN ITO (monthly newspaper), (Tel. 905-855-8380, 1544 Southdown Rd., Mississauga). Publisher: Eduardo Lee.
THE FILIPINO BULLETIN BOARD, (Tel. 416-724-9077, 48 Millhouse Cr). Contact: Carlos Unas.
FILIPIANA (monthly newspaper), (Tel. 416-534-7836, 1531 Queen St. W). Publisher: Bin Kon Loo.
FILIPINO RADIO PROGRAM, CHIN 1540 AM, (Tel. 416-531-9991, 622 College St). Sunday, 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Hosts: Joel Recla and Agatha Luna.
MANILA MEDIA MONITOR, (Tel. 416-285-8583, 98 Comrie Terrace). Contact: Ace Alvarez.
THE PHILIPPINE REPORTER (by-weekly newspaper), (Tel. 416-461-8694, Main Floor, 807 Queen St. E). Editor: Hermie Garcia.
Tony Ruprecht visiting the Kababayan community centre.
There are more than 300 Philippine community cultural organizations in Toronto, organized by regional, provincial, municipal, and local dialect affiliations in the Philippines.
KABABAYAN COMMUNITY CENTRE, (Tel. 416-532-3888, www.kababayan.org, 1313 Queen St. W., Suite 133). Co-ordinates educational, cultural, and social activities for Filipino immigrants. Contact: Flor Dandal.
SILAYAN FILIPINO COMMUNITY CENTRE, (Tel. 416-926-9505, 476 Parliament St. Suite 301). A drop-in centre established in 1969 to provide new Canadians with information on welfare, legal aid, benefits, and services for seniors. President: Delfin Palileo.
BARANGAY FILIPINO, (Tel. 905-276-2264, 2813 Kingsberry Cres., Mississauga). President: Cesar Arias.
CULTURE PHILIPPINES, (3471 Martin’s Pine Cres., Mississauga). President: Pepe Buenavides.
FIESTA FILIPINA DANCE TROUPE, (Tel. 905-566-5734, 829 Queensbridge Dr., Mississauga). This group has performed at the Olympic and Commonwealth games opening ceremonies. President: Onofre Aguinaldo.
FILIPINO PARENTS ASSOCIATION OF TORONTO (FIL-PAR), (101 1665 Victoria Park Ave). President: Alejo Parucha.
FILIPINO PERFORMING ARTS & CULTURE, (Tel. 416-467-0612, 251 Westlake Ave). President: Hermie Rosario.
FOLKLORICO FILIPINO CANADA, (Tel. 416-281-2408, 81 Parade Sq). Executive Administrator: Wendy Arenas.
HIMIG FILIPINO CHORAL ENSEMBLE, (5762 Greensboro Dr., Mississauga). Music Director: Cristina Sanchez.
INTERNATIONAL COALITION TO END DOMESTICS’ EXPLOITATION (INTERCEDE), (Tel. 416-483-4554, 234 Eglinton Ave. E). Director: Agatha Mason.
KAGAYANON FOUNDATION (Toronto), (Tel. 905-707-8433, 50 Mowatt Crt., Thornhill). President: Betsy W. Abarquez.
PHILIPPINE HERITAGE BAND, (91 Thornhill Woods Dr). A brass band that plays at various cultural events. Contact: Carol Banez.
SAMPAGUITA SENIOR CITIZENS CLUB, (208-2305 South Millway, Mississauga).
SAN LORENZO RUIZ CATHOLIC COMMUNITY CENTRE, (c/o INTERCEDE, 234 Eglinton Ave).
UNITED AKLANON ASSOCIATION OF TORONTO, (3050 Constitution Blvd., Mississauga). President: Vic Sunico.
UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES ALUMNI ASSOCIATION, (525-121 Scadding Ave). President: Francis Rementilla.
CATHOLIC COMMUNITY SERVICES OF YORK REGION, (7170 Warden Ave., Unit 15, Markham). Contact: Ms. Agnes Manasan.
MARKHAM FEDERATION OF FILIPINO CANADIAN CENTRE, (Tel. 905-305-1320, Fax 905-472-0322, 1151 Denison St., Units 10 & 11, Markham).
KABABAIHANG RIZALISTA INC, (Tel. 416-536-8234, Fax 416-534-9244, 174 Symington Ave). President: Araceli (Rose) V. Cruz.