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    Dear Readers, Finally we can it seems that spring is almost in the air.  Weather wise it’s not that cold anymore and it looks like Mr. Winter is going to say goodbye. Soon you have to start cleaning up the yard and the flower beds.  And the trees in the backyard will start to have leaves [...]

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Page added on October 23, 2016

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How it all began

By: Tigs Tidalgo

I was with a group of kababayans in a house party of Elro and Flora Kintanar just barely a month after I arrived. I did open the subject of organizing ourselves into an association. The conversation became serious and at the end decided to go ahead. A group of ten was assigned as organizing committee. I was one of them. That was in June 12,1969. My first birthday in Canada. I was 35 years old.

Our small community of 68 people were mostly college professionals. This was due to government program of selective immigrant recruitment to work in medical field and in the technological sector basically in the oil related industry. Suffice to say that the philosophy of the group of ten was leaning primarily towards a high-level professional association.  I was the only odd ball in the group.

My left wing activism was a hindrance. I can not abide with their ways of thinking. Meetings after meetings all ended nowhere. We can’t even reconcile the mission statement. The point in question was about lifestyle adaptation to fit into the mainstream. I regarded this as dereliction of loyalty to the home country. To alter my culture and lifestyle just to establish harmony was not my definition of rights and freedom. Canada being a country of immigrants should accept them as they are and not on what Canadian society wants them to be.

The association was finally organized and registered without me. I was excluded in the process. I was deemed as a radical. I was no longer invited to meetings. I resented it. But on second thought, it was also a blessing because with my stubbornness, my idea of having an association in the first place would not have come to being.

But I was not yet finished. Perhaps, it was my battered ego that urged me to put up my slate of candidates to run in their first general election. It was initially for fun over bottles of beer with friends when decision was made. It was kind of a game. We went to Medicine Hat and convinced Manong Remy Belmonte to move to Calgary to run as our candidate for  president. The campaign was intense and we narrowly won. I was elected vice president. We had a good laugh. We were not expecting that ill- feelings from the election campaign would split our small community. It was a costly game. Our community started on a wrong foot.

The new government policy of easing immigration through family reunification sponsorship pushed our community to grow rapidly than expected. Garment workers in Manitoba were also brought in by the hundreds and a good number wound up in Calgary after their contract to avail the good economic opportunities of Alberta.

Our association was not able to cope up with the sudden influx of people. It became highly politicized to contest who would control the community. It assumed the role of mother association of Filipino based clubs. Our yearly election involved about a thousand people in a noisy gymnasium of Philippine style rah rah politics. Police officers had difficulty controlling the crowd. Years after and in one particular election, it got tangled in legal matters. Some leaders surmised that it would be wise to just leave it to disappear and it did.

But prior to the ending of the mother association, I was toying the idea of a federation in 1984. I presumed that we needed more than a mother association to accommodate the rapid growth of our community. I advocated for support amongst community leaders and a year after, I endorsed my plan with the Visminsa Club with Fil Donque as president.

It was through the Visminsa Club at the Pineridge Community Center that the federation was realized on February 1986. All twelve Filipino  associations through their respected presidents voted to choose between the mother association or the federation. Six associations remained with the mother association and six went to the federation. It was after the demise of the mother association where all Filipino associations went to the federation. The Calgary Federation of Filipino Associations (CAFFA) finally became the official representative of the Filipino Community in Calgary. The by-laws were amended in 2004 and again in 2008 and stayed on to the present.

The making of our community is a story of young people being orphaned from the comfort of home. It’s a typical plight of individuals desiring to fulfil a dream. With bare hands and upright thinking, we built a life of our own and also paved the road for others that came along.

About half a century did come to pass. We are now the biggest cultural community in Calgary with the population of 56,000 Filipinos. We need something that is  realistic to lean on. We want an entity to also address beyond social and cultural pleasantness. It is for this reason that we endeavors to realize a community association with open mandate from Filipinos through general community election.

The recent election of CAFFA last September 25th where Ben Isidro was elected president, created a chance to realize on what is evidently necessary. We are hoping that under the leadership of the new president, CAFFA  will work on the transition towards the new system that will take effect at the end of their term in September 2017.

It will be a new beginning. Progress is coming.









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