The Philippines and Taiwan may be closer than you knew – they are almost relatives, rather than just neighbouring countries. It is generally accepted that Taiwan was the root of the Austronesian migration throughout the world into the Philippines, Polynesia, Hawaii, and even Madagascar.
Today, Taiwan is a popular destination for Philippine migrant workers with over 111,000 Filipinos in 2014. According to a Taiwanese team of genetic scientists led by Dr. Marie Lin (Godmother to Taiwan’s bloodlines), Taiwanese and Filipino share over 75% similarity in their DNA. Then it comes as no surprise that Filipino stories are abundant at this year’s TAIWANfest – Fête with the Philippines!
Like any family, Taiwan offers great support and opportunity to its Philippine kin. Taiwan’s first Filipino migrant artist, Mario Subeldia, has established an entire cohort of artists, designers, and models from the migrant worker community: AFACE (Arts and Fashion A Charity Event). Making use of their precious Sundays, these talented romantics dare their dreams to become reality, holding public fashion shows, art exhibitions, and even model selections – all in the Taiwanese mainstream and all to great support, allowing them to raise money for the poor and elderly in the Philippines.
Gen Huang is a Filipina who married into a Taiwanese family, but has not forgotten her treasured Philippine roots – together with her family of in-laws, Gen founded PhilTai The Voice, connecting Filipinx in Taiwan and pooling their resources to help each other and to raise funds to help those back home. Their many projects including bringing much needed water, electricity, and even school supplies to the more rural areas in the Philippines.
The stories and connections between Filipinx and Taiwanese are endless and beautiful. Taiwanese newspaperman Asuka Lee was so inspired by the stories of Mario and other Filipinx that he founded Migrants’ Park, a digital media platform dedicated to sharing news related to migrants, newcomers, and their families. Everyone has a experience of struggle and success. Being away from home does not stop them from reaching for and achieving their dreams – what can we in Canada do to showcase our Philippine generosity and Taiwanese fortitude?
Discover their stories – and more – at this year’s TAIWANfest, downtown Vancouver from September 1st to 3rd.