This article was first published in the Alberta Filipino Journal, November 2019. 

2 Group Photo at the legUPAAE members photo op at the Alberta Legislature

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The University of the Philippines Alumni Association Edmonton (UPAAE) stood alongside distinguished alumni of their respective fields at this year’s UPAA Awards held on August 24, 2019 at the UP Bahay ng Alumni in Diliman, Quezon City. The event was held during the University’s Grand Alumni Homecoming. Among this year’s awardees were Ambassador Edgardo Espiritu (Most Distinguished Alumnus) and Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña (Lifetime Achievement Awardee).

The UPAA Edmonton was recognized for its meritorious and exceptional activities that did not only benefit its chapter members, but also the University, the UPAA, and the alumni in general. The award puts the organization and the community in the map, exemplifying honor and excellence in raising the Filipino spirit despite being miles away from home. In the activities and meetings leading to the ceremony, the UPAA Edmonton was able to bring forward matters concerning the chapter and the community, as well as network for future partnerships to widen its scope in the next years.

3 Kehrl Receiving UPAAE AwardUPAA Edmonton Secretary Kehrl Reyes (second from left) with (left to right) UPAA First Vice President Luis Rey I. Velasco, UP President Danilo L. Concepcion, and UPAA President Reynaldo C. Laserna (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO; retrieved from UP website, Sept 29, 2019)

The Formative Years 2013 – 2017

The organization was founded in 2013 after a challenging process of formation. The founding officers and members strove to connect and bring together UP Alumni and general members who share its vision of promoting Philippine culture and heritage, supporting education and skills training, and fostering a welcoming community for UP Alumni and all Filipinos alike in Edmonton and area.

Years passed, the organization reached out to over a hundred UP Alumni and made lasting relations with government offices, other organizations and notable individuals in its events and projects launched. Most notable of these projects are the fundraising for Haiyan victims in 2013, and becoming one of the prime-movers of the annual Edmonton Filipino Fiesta, handling the Fiesta Family Zone. The organization’s vision for 2018 – 2020: A well-organized group representing UP’s virtues, Honor and Excellence, with a strong, well-engaged, and satisfied membership supportive of a visible and active leadership in the Filipino community in Edmonton and Canada.

Promoting Culture and Heritage

5 UPAAE at HISTORYAHon. Amarjeet Sohi, MP with UPAAE and partner organizations at Historya Event 2018

In 2018, the organization spearheaded HISTORYA: Walking Through the Story of the Filipino People, one of the official event pop-ups for the Alberta Culture Days. HISTORYA gathered 180 participants to learn about the country’s history and witness a showcase of experiences – our dances, our Baybayin script, storytelling in Filipino, national attires, among others.

4 Bahay Kubo Series Bahay Kubo Series

September 2018 also marked the start of UPAAE’s Bahay Kubo Series, a 10-month crafts program where kids 6 to 14 years old got to learn more about indigenous life in the Philippines while making fun dioramas of bahay kubo, rice terraces, flora and fauna, and the coastal environment. It is one of UPAA Edmonton’s objectives to be able to deliver more about Philippine heritage to kids and young adults who don’t get a chance to learn it in school.

One with the Community

The organization dares to participate. It was one of the organizations that pushed for the proclamation of the Philippine Heritage Month in June of each year. It engages its members to take part in events that cater to different interests such as the theatre, marathons, arts and crafts, and knowledge seminars.

The membership allows individual members to be subject matter experts for those who may need guidance in various concerns. UPAA Edmonton is home to outstanding community leaders such as Lucenia Ortiz of Alberta’s first Anti-Racism Advisory Council, Ida Lucilla of the Philippine Arts Council, Tony Santiago of the Philippine Edmonton Events and Arts Society, and recognized author and artist Mila Philipzig who also served as the UPAAE’s founding president.

Giving Back

UPAA Edmonton started the UPAAE Professional, Leadership, and Continuing Education (UPAAE-PLACE) in 2018. In its first run, it awarded grants to support a scholarship, book donation drives, library reconstruction, and an information-dissemination drive to promote caring for the environment.

In 2019 and moving forward, the organization continued UPAAE Place by pledging to UP’s Adopt-a-Scholar program. UPAAE plans to extend the support to those in Edmonton by assisting new immigrants and international Filipino students.

6 UPAAE at the FiestaUPAAE won the Best Parade Contingent Award at the Edmonton Filipino Fiesta 2019.

Get Involved with UPAAE

Even as a young organization, the UPAA promises an active involvement in the Edmonton Filipino community. It welcomes general members who may not be UP Alumni but would like to join UPAAE’s cause.

For more information about the organization and becoming a member, please visit the UPAAE website at upaaedmonton.com or email upaa.edmonton@gmail.com.

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