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Fort Macleod joins Filipino community for celebration

Fort Macleod residents joined the Filipino community Saturday in celebrating the 124th anniversary of Philippines independence.

More than 200 people gathered in Centennial Park for a celebration that featured speeches, musical entertainment and Filipino delicacies.

The celebration opened with a Blackfoot blessing by Eloise Provost and a prayer by Zofia Bumactao.

As Edward Bautista sang the Philippines national anthem, the country’s flag was raised on the community pole in Centennial Park.

Mayor Brent Feyter, Coun. Jim Monteith and chief administrative officer Anthony Burdett attended to represent the Town of Fort Macleod.

As he brought greetings on behalf of the town, Feyter said he hopes Filipino people embraced the town’s slogan “Belong.”

Corbin Provost, the chief operating officer for the Piikani Nation, brought greetings from his community.

Provost said the Piikani Nation has a long and strong connection with the Filipino community that began with long-time Kindergarten teacher Mali Charlton of Fort Macleod.

Livingstone-Macleod MLA Roger Reid spoke of the strong contributions the Filipino people make in the economic and community life of centres all over Alberta.

Master of ceremonies Zofia Bumactao read a message from Mali Charlton, who was unable to attend the ceremony.

“This day is very significant to us Filipinos even when we are now away from our land of birth, enjoying the goodness and benevolence of our beautiful adopted country, Canada,” Charlton wrote of the anniversary of independence.

“Like any other democratic country, we Filipinos have always treasured our independence and our freedom. This feeling is felt deeply and more so now with what is going on in Ukraine. We pray that this war will end soon.”

Charlton wrote the special feeling Filipinos have in their hearts for their home country still exists in her heart, even after 52 years of life in Canada.

Charlton wrote that Filipino people immigrate to Canada to improve their lives, and do so through character, their deep faith in God, and hard work.

Francheska Dynamites, pageant queen from the Miss Philippines-Canada Queen Pride event, performed on Saturday.

“Aside from our relationships at work, we also need to build good relationships with each other as Filipinos and with the people around us,” Charlton wrote. “We are all one family  in our new home country, a Filipino family.”

The celebration continued with performances by Miss Philippines-Canada Queen Pride Francheska Dynamites, Edward Bautista and Leonard Eagle Tail Feathers.

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, the Philippines was a colony in the Spanish empire

Following a revolution General Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed the Philippines to be a free nation on June 12, 1898.

It was not until July 4, 1946, following the Second World War and removal of Japanese forces, that the Philippines gained independence and took control of its destiny.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement on the 124th anniversary of Philippine independence.   

“Canada’s relationship with the Philippines is rooted in generations of close ties between our people,” Trudeau said. “Since we established diplomatic relations in 1949, we have strengthened our bond through close collaboration bilaterally, in multilateral institutions, such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, and with partners within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.”

“Canada will continue to work with the Philippines on shared priorities such as deepening trade and driving economic growth, strengthening peace and security globally, and advancing human rights for the benefit of people on both sides of the Pacific.”

Trudeau closed his statement with a traditional Filipino greeting: “Maligayang Araw ng Kalayaan!”