By Fidez Sotto Melegrito
In 1973, from the thoughtful vision of a handful of new Filipino immigrants to Prince Rupert, the Filipino Canadian Association (FCA) was formed.
The objectives of the FCA were to promote the Filipino culture including mutual interest and harmonious relationship among members, and to participate in civic activities of the community. Through the legacy and hard work of its founders, the Filipino community continued what was started then and added “giving back to the community” as its new objective.
For many years, due to various fundraising events such as selling the famous ‘Filipino shish-kebob’ during ‘Seafest’ and proceeds from the annual ‘Filipino Night Dinner and Dance’, the Association was able to help the community through donations to various organizations like Prince Rupert Regional Hospital, The Acropolis Manor, Canadian Cancer Society, Relay for Life, The Knights of Columbus, Wheelchair Foundation of Canada, and Transition House, just to name a few.
The association also constantly sends financial aid and goods-in-kind to Filipinos in the Philippines who were victims of natural calamities such as devastating earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, floods and mudslides. The Philippines — as beautiful as it is — as a country of 7,107 plus islands is isolated by deep oceans and lie within the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire.” As a result, it gets a little more than its fair share of natural disasters and calamities.
From November 2013 to early January 2014, members of the Association went into high gear with fundraising to help the victims of super-typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines — knocking on doors, campaigning on social media, selling T-shirts and baked goods, among others. The total collective donations received and sent to Canadian Red Cross Haiyan Relief Fund was over $45,000.00 including matching funds from the federal and provincial governments of Canada.
Each year, for the past 42 years, the Association also helped high school graduates with the cost of their post secondary education in the form of bursaries and scholarships. We are happy and proud to say that our Association helped our youth become successful nurses, pharmacists, lawyer, medical doctor, chartered accountant, engineers, speech therapists, teachers and in nautical, industrial, culinary and other rewarding chosen fields. They are now role models of their own.
To date, very few original members of the Association from 42 years ago are still living in Prince Rupert, and like many non-profit organizations, we are facing huge challenges involving continuity or simply how to go on. We are however encouraged by the enthusiasm of the new generations of Filipino immigrants who chose Prince Rupert to be their home. As they get involved in our civic activities, the Association will be able to continue its work and ensure its success for many more years to come.