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    Hello dear readers, It’s June and half of the year is almost gone. But we still have rain at times and it’s good for the grass and all the plants in our garden.  Although lately, it’s been getting to more sunny now, I’m sure that everyone is enjoying the outdoors. June is a very important month for [...]

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Page added on April 27, 2019

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Our Filipino Community in Calgary

By: Tigs Tidalgo


April 2019

Part 2 of 3: The beginning.

I was with a group of kababayans in a house party of Elro and Flora Kintanar just barely 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 Filipinos 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 oil related industries. Suffice to say that the philosophy of the group of ten was leaning primarily towards high-level professional association.  I was the odd ball in the group.

My left wing activism was a hindrance. I can not abide with their ways of thinking.Two meetings 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 us on we are and not on what Canadian society wants us to be.

The association was finally organized 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 beers 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. 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.

However, the enauguration of the association and the swearing in of elected officers was done at the formal first Filipino party at Palliser Hotel on January 15, 1970. It was well attended by  Filipinos in Calagry and guests. It was a good party.

The new government policy of easing immigration through family reunification sponsorship pushed our community to grow rapidly. Garment workers in Manitoba were also brought in 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 so many 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 and it died.

But prior to the ending of the mother association, I was toying the idea of a federation to comprised all associations in 1985. I presumed that we needed more than a mother association to accommodate the rapid growth of our community. I advocated for support from community leaders and a year after, I endorsed my plan with the Visminsa Club at the overnight outing at Pinelake Beach with Fil Donque as president and Ramon Lopez as vice president.

It was through the Visminsa Club at the Pineridge Community Center that the federation was realized on February 1986. 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 demised 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. It died twice and we resurected it each time. The by-law was only generic in 2004 and was amended in 2006. It 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 formed a society and paved the way for others that came along.

Half century did come to pass and next year on January15,2020 is our communitiy’s golden anniversary. we are now the biggest cultural community in Calgary with a population as released to me by our present consul reently of 75,000 Filipinos. We want something that is realistic. We need to start a community associaion that will also address beyond social and cultural pleasantness.

It is for this reason that we presently endeavors to realize a leadership association, where general election is open to all adult Filipinos in Calgary and suburb. Our current system is already inefective. It has to be improved to adequately face the challenges of the present and into the next fifty years.

(To be continued in part 3 next month)


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