Vancouver Filipino community is hopeful for a cultural home in B.C.
B.C.’s Filipino community is eager to have its own cultural centre to showcase and celebrate community members’ contributions to the province.
By ROY FANG
Filipinos are one of the largest ethnic communities in B.C. but still do not have a central facility in which to share their culture.
In a December 2022 mandate letter, B.C. Premier David Eby tasked Lana Popham, minister of tourism, arts, culture and sport, with making progress toward a provincial Filipino cultural centre. A renewed call for a cultural centre was issued in March 2023.
Khristine Cariño, a member of the Vancouver Filipino Cultural Heritage Group, is one of many Filipinos who are looking forward to a centre being established.
She has long understood the need to highlight the heritage of her homeland. After realizing many Filipino youths, including her own children, didn’t have access to resources to learn about that heritage, Cariño helped run multiple events and activities for her Filipino community at the Kensington branch of the Vancouver Public Library.
A few of these events included activities that taught Filipino youth their culture and classes that taught Tagalog, a language spoken on a number of islands in the Philippines.
“It was really fantastic because although our focus was just school-aged children, the parents were coming, the aunties, the uncles, the grandparents,” said Cariño. “It became an intergenerational activity.”
Showcasing Filipino arts and culture
Still, Cariño said it was difficult to keep these activities running due to a lack of support and funding, and added that a cultural centre would not only help build support but also bring the Vancouver Filipino community together.
“I just feel very good about this Filipino community centre, because it won’t just be a physical building but it is a community space where we run many things like what we’ve done in the past,” said Cariño.
Reynato Pablo, Cariño’s husband, is also excited about the cultural centre. Working in construction during the day, Pablo paints in oil and acrylic based on his Filipino heritage during his free time.
“As a Filipino-Canadian, I take pride in showcasing snapshots of Filipino culture in my paintings,” he said.
Some of Pablo’s works include Gintong Ani (the title translates to “golden harvest” and it depicts farmers harvesting rice in the Philippines), and Kasiyahan (meaning “happiness” and depicting children playing around in haystacks after a harvest).
Pablo welcomes the new cultural centre as it might give him a space to gather with other Filipino artists.
“I think that that space would be very valuable,” Cariño said. “For one, as a learning space, and two, to help bring awareness to Filipino talent and their work by providing exhibit spaces.”
Shirley Tan, a Filipina-Canadian interested in Filipino literature, also supports the proposed cultural centre. Tan said that while older Filipinos are familiar with stories from their heritage, many younger people are not. She adds that many of her nieces and nephews often feel they need to go back to the Philippines in order to learn about these stories and their roots.
“It would be great to have that cultural centre just right here so they can start learning about it here without having to break the bank to even do research on that,” said Tan.