The unique contribution of the people of the Philippines and their vibrant culture to the Canadian mosaic was celebrated on Tuesday, June 12, at Cranbrook City Hall.
Fifty years to the day after June 12 was declared a special holiday in the Philippines, Mayor Wayne Stetski proclaimed the date to be Philippine Independence Day in Cranbrook, B.C.
One hundred and fourteen years ago, the Philippines proclaimed its independence from Spain, although the United States took over control of the country until the end of the Second World War (which included a period of Japanese occupation). On Tuesday, June 12, 1962, then President Diosdado Macapagal declared the day as a special holiday to mark those years of struggle for sovereignty.
In attendance at Tuesday's event at City Hall was Mable Elmore, a Filipino-Canadian and MLA for Vancouver-Kensington. It was with her support and encouragement that the Filipino-Canadian Association of the East Kootenay was established in May, 2012.
Lourdes Roxas-Buttalid, President of the Society, said the primary objective of the Society was to unite all Filipinos in the East Kootenay, and to nurture and cultivate the cultural heritage of the Filipino people, its history, customs and traditions.
"We also make ourselves available to those Filipinos who are in need, especially those who are new to the area," Roxas-Butalid said. "The association also serves as a liaison between the Philippine consulate in Vancouver and Filipinos in the East Kootenay."
Roxas-Butalid read a message from Jose A.P. Ampeso, the Cosul General for the Philippines in Vancouver, who offered his "warmest greetings and congratulations to the Filipino community of Cranbrook," and also thanked city officials of Cranbrook "for giving recognition to our country and the Filipino community on this occasion."
After Stetski made the proclamation, the crowd in attendance moved outside to sing the Philippine national anthem, "Lupang Hinirang" - or "Chosen Land" in the Tagalog language - as the Philippine flag was raised. The ceremony resumed with the swearing in of the Society's officers by Elmore.
Elmore told the crowd that the Cranbrook's celebration of Philippine Independence Day was the first in B.C. outside of of the Lower Mainland.
Everyone was then treated to a buffet of Filipino cuisine for lunch.