Historya 2: The Filipino Culture and Identity in a Multicultural World

Final Report for the 2020 Alberta Culture Days 

October, 2020

Funded by the Ministry of Multiculturalism

Province of Alberta

About UPAAE (University of the Philippines Alumni Association Edmonton)

UPAAE History

UPAAE is an organization founded in 2013 by graduates of UP who have made Edmonton their home. We strive to connect not only the UP alumni, but also their family, friends, and network. Together we work to help promote Philippine culture and heritage; support education and skills training; and foster a welcoming community for Filipinos in Edmonton. We participate in Philippine Heritage events in the city, offer scholarships, and support disaster relief efforts in the Philippines. UPAAE was the celebration host for Alberta Culture Days in 2018 as well as in 2020.

Background

HISTORYA 2 built on the success of HISTORYA 1: Walking Through the Story of the Filipino People held in September 2018 in Edmonton. The interactive exhibit showcased Philippine history and culture as far back as 10 million years ago up to the present. It was grounded on the belief that one’s national history has a bearing on everyday life, affecting values, customs, choices and relationships. 

HISTORYA 2 aimed at engaging Albertans by introducing them to the context of living in a diverse multicultural society through the stories of Filipinos living in Alberta. Learning to live in two or more cultures requires a mindset, heartset, and skillset to navigate the meanings and nuances of different cultures. 

HISTORYA 2: The Filipino Culture and Identity in a Multicultural World, was an experiential and intercultural learning experience that engaged Albertans in increasing their awareness about Philippine history and culture.  The Filipino community has been steadily growing in numbers in the last decade, yet not many people in Alberta know Philippine history and culture, and  its influence on how Filipinos overcome challenges and pursue their goals in their new homeland.

HISTORYA 2 was a two-day online  learning series of visual and intercultural dialogues about historical and cultural experiences of Filipinos as a way of building bridges across cultures. It consisted of four key activities:

Day 1 – September 28, 2020

  • HISTORYA 1 featured a video presentation of Historya 1 to set the historical and cultural context of Filipino culture.
  • My  HISTORYA was a storytelling session of Filipino migrants in Alberta across five decades where each participant shared their personal stories and insights of migration. Each story came with a creative visual and musical performance.

Day 2 – September 30, 2020

  • Dialogues on the Filipino Diaspora was an interactive learning activity where participants explored historical, economic, social and political conditions in the Philippines that explained the push and pull factors of Filipino migration. 
  • Building intercultural bridges- was a culminating session where participants engaged in a mutual learning and reflection process about the Filipino identity and living in a multicultural world.

Historya 2, Day 1

Program

September 28, 2020

Welcome

Land Acknowledgement

Overview of Historya 2

Historya 1 Presentation

A presentation recapping the Historya 1 event in September 2018. It highlighted a collection of rare photos, many of them never-published, from various libraries and archives in the Philippines.  These photographs were arranged as if one could walk through a timeline dating back 60 million years of Philippine history.  What was meant to be a travelling exhibit has now been transcribed on slides, all of them in 10 short minutes, to remember our roots of Filipino culture and its rich history.   

My Historya

Panfilo ‘Pompei’ Quedado

Video presentation 

Pompei immigrated to Canada in 1968 in Regina, Saskatchewan and later moved to Edmonton to get his degree in Agriculture at the University of Alberta in 1973. Some of Edmonton’s landmarks speak of Pompei’s accomplishments:  the Tropical pyramid in the Muttart Conservatory, the beautiful gardens of the Legislature, and the pleasing trees and plants that dot our streets and avenues in the city.

Videographer: Jeannette Dotimas

Artist Performance:  Poetry Reading,  “Choices”  by Mila Bongco-Phlipzig

Choices speaks about the choices that many immigrants face and the lingering tension of leaving home and in search for a new beginning. 

Mila Bongco-Philipzig is an all-around artist, community leader, environmental advocate, human rights activist, and marathon runner. She is a children’s book author, writer, poet and painter, known in the city  for her work in multiculturalism, inclusion and diversity

Ledinila Murgatroyd 

Video presentation

Ledinila moved to Red Deer more than a decade ago.  She has helped a good number of Filipino women and men come to Alberta via the Live-in Caregiver Program.  She brought them under her care, supporting newcomers as they began their lives as caregivers.  Ledinila and her story also features the stories of some of the caregivers whose lives are intertwined with hers, speaking of the strength of the bonds of their friendships.

Videographer: Karen Lechonsito-Moore

Albert Remus Rosana

Video Presentation

Albert Rosana arrived in Alberta in 2010.  He came here as a student, pursuing graduate studies in Science and later on earned  his Master’s degree, receiving prestigious international awards in research. He is currently teaching, while completing his doctorate program at the University of Alberta. He was recently awarded the much coveted Dorothy Killam Award for outstanding contribution in advancing science research.

Artist Performance:  Song Rendition of  “North” by Sleeping at Last as sung by Albert Rosana and Kitbelle Pasagui

Videographers:  Kehrl Reyes and Cedric Cordero 

Kitbielle Pasagui

Video Presentation

She arrived in Alberta in  2012  bringing with her a wealth of experience and training in the performing arts from the Philippines. Kitbielle sang with the prestigious UP Madrigal singers, an internationally known a capella choir in the Philippines before coming to Edmonton. She has found her niche in Edmonton  as Associate Conductor for Kokopelli Youth Choir, Edmonton’s largest community choir family.  She also teaches at the Purple Music Academy sharing her angelic voice with Edmonton’s aspiring singers.

Artist Performance: Song Rendition of  “The Journey” by Lea Salonga as sung by Kitbielle Pasagui

Videographer:  Kehrl Reyes 

Closing Remarks – Consul General Zaldy Patron, Philippine Consulate Office, Calgary

To view the September 28 event, please click on this link:

Historya2-Part-I.mp4

September 30, 2020

Welcome

Land Acknowledgement

Overview of Historya 2

Historya 1 Presentation

A presentation recapping the Historya 1 event in September 2018. It highlighted a collection of rare photos, many of them never-published, from various libraries and archives in the Philippines.  The photographs were arranged as if one  could walk through a timeline dating back 60 million years of Philippine history.  What was meant to be a travelling exhibit has now been transcribed on slides, all of them in 10 short minutes, to remember our roots of Filipino culture and its rich history.   

Dialogues on the Filipino Diaspora 

Presentor – Marco Luciano, director and co-founder, Migrante Alberta.

Digital Story Book

Why do Filipinos leave the country in great numbers – the third largest number of newcomers in Alberta and Canada?  The digital story book presentation panned the history of migration from the Spanish colonization period  when the first group of Filipino migrant workers were part of the galleon trade from Asia to the Americas.  Throughout Philippine history as the country was colonized by the Spanish, Americans and Japanese and until the country gained independence, they were marked by exporting Filipino labour to work in overseas plantations and farms.  The legacy of colonization has left the country in difficult economic conditions that led to big waves of out  migration of professional and technical workers to seek better employment opportunities making this a national program of the Philippin government.

Small Group on the Filipino identity and intercultural bridging

Participants were divided into two groups to share their ideas and insights from the presentation and guided by the following questions:

  • What resonated with you in the digital story book about the Filipino migration history presented today? How will our migration story/ies shape your identity in your new homeland?
  •  What do you think is the future of the Filipino community in Alberta?  What can we do to build intercultural bridges between other communities?

The participants were fully engaged in the group discussions. What resonated with the participants from the Filipino Migration History was that there were many common struggles and pains of migration. Aside from adapting to a new way of life, many newcomers face systemic discrimination in many areas such as employment and discrimination. While many newcomers to Canada speak different languages, the journey of migration is a common bond and a source of strength that should bring immigrants together. The identity of new Canadians is shaped by these struggles as they learned new skills and capacities to be better. “People who moved here and faced struggles worked extra hard.”

Participants expressed hope that the Filipino community as it continues to grow in numbers and contributions to Alberta will strive to make its presence visible and interact more with other cultural communities. 

“Diversity should be feared”

The Filipino community should begin to initiate intercultural conversations and share their stories of migration with others so that they find common challenges and common aspirations. In this way, Fillipino along with other cultural communities can make its voice heard.

To view the September 30event, please click on this link:

Historya2-Part-II.mp4

Reflections

Historya 1 in 2018, and Historya 2 in 2020 as organized by UPAAE, were meant to give us a sweeping view of our rich indigenous heritage which was re-shaped by 400 years of colonization, and 75 years of a struggling democracy.  

We learned that our personal stories of migration are rooted in the political, economic and social conditions of our homeland, helping us understand that Filipinos leave because we seek a better future for ourselves and our families.  We recognize that the Filipino Diaspora, a term we use to talk about the large movement of Filipinos around the world, including Canada, is not so much of a choice as it is a necessity.

Our identity is diverse, multi-faceted.  First generation migrants, having lived in the Philippines, were shaped by our home country’s history and culture.  But their children, second generation Filipino-Canadians, grow in a multicultural mosaic  that is Canada, and are therefore quite different from their parents.  How does one then define Filipino identity?  How do we answer the question:  Who is the Filipino-Canadian?  

Events like Historya 1 and Historya 2 are part of our exploration of who we really are.  We hope that future events like this can help us appreciate the ongoing evolution of Filipino identity.  

We are grateful to the Alberta Culture Days for the support they have provided in bringing Philippine culture and history to Albertans!

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