Successful Pinoy Festival attracts thousands

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  • Burnaby – “Panahon na para magsaya” said Pinoy Festival organizers and people responded in
    the thousands by showing up to celebrate Filipino Heritage Month.
    For the first time in history, record numbers of both Filipinos and non-Filipinos came in droves to
    check out the sights and sounds of the Philippines. Estimates say around 10,000 people joined
    the fun which featured about 70 booths and had the active participation of more than 50
    community organizations.
    “Our Pinoy Festival was one for the history books! It was a resounding success and it smashed
    all of our expectations! Our objective was to organize an event that we can be proud of, that
    spotlighted the strength of our Filipino community groups, that showcased the best of our
    culture and that supported our small businesses. We’re extremely proud to report that we did all
    this and much more,” says Iane Penala, Pinoy Festival Co-Chair and Burnaby Filipino Cultural
    Society Chairperson.
    The Pinoy Festival was held last Saturday June 24 at Burnaby Civic Square and it was
    organized by the Burnaby Filipino Cultural Society, the Pinoy Festival Alliance and the Mabuhay
    House Society. It featured a Parada ng Bayan led by the Aklanon Sto. Nino Association of BC’s
    Ati-Atihan group; cultural performances representing regions from the Cordillera to
    Mindanao; live OPM bands, Filipino food and a Santa Cruzan.
    Unique to the festival was the participation of Filipino cyclists and 4×4 off-roaders in the Parada
    ng Bayan. Members from the BC Pilipino Cycling Collaboration kicked off the day with a 7:30am
    ride from Richmond to the festival venue at Civic Square in Burnaby to join the parade. And
    Filipino 4×4 groups (Engkanto, Pinoy 4×4, PSON 4×4 and Overland Nation BC) also participated
    by decorating their trucks with Filipino flags and circling the venue to greet the other Filipino
    community groups who walked in the Parada ng Bayan.
    “It was a multi-mode transportation parade that was lively, festive and absolutely amazing. We
    had pedestrians, cyclists and participants in their private cars along with festival goers lining the
    entirety of our parade route to watch, wave and capture the moment with their devices,”
    exclaimed Penala.
    Later in the day, the Santa Cruzan had about 30 participants who were Angels, Princesas and
    Reynas plus their escorts and the Reyna Elena was local Burnaby resident Donna Clacer. Ms.
    Clacer is the Miss Philippines International of Canada (2022), a current Miss Universe Canada
    Finalist and People’s Choice candidate. And the Hermano and Hermana Mayor were local
    Burnaby Filipino community leaders Carlos and Amelia Morales.
    The festival also had a Tiangge and Services section that offered an array of products and
    services. Along with our Filipino businesses that offered everything from candles to kitchenware
    and financial services, the event also had non-Filipino groups like the UBC’s IDEA Lab to
    promote dementia awareness; the City of Burnaby’s Planning Department for input on

    Burnaby’s Official Community Plan and the RCMP for outreach and information on public safety
    issues.
    “This was a meaningful and successful event on many levels. It was community-led and
    community-driven and it was organized by an all-volunteer team. Credit goes to all of the
    volunteers who put in the painstaking and hard work of community organizing and community
    building,” says Maita Santiago, Mabuhay House Society Board Member and City of Burnaby
    Councillor.
    Premier Eby affirms support for Mabuhay House and Filipino Cultural Centre
    A highlight of the day was Premier David Eby’s visit which included joining a community “Sisiwit”
    dance while the Chordillera band played. Other invited local MLAs with Premier Eby were MLA
    Janet Routledge, MLA Anne Kang and MLA Raj Chouhan.
    During his remarks, Premier Eby affirmed his support for Mabuhay House Society as the
    organization leading the effort for a Filipino Cultural Centre.
    “We’re grateful to Premier Eby and his government for giving Mabuhay House the
    mandate to work on establishing a Filipino cultural centre in our community. It’s critical
    that we remain united in this work and that we learn from the past so that we can heal
    and build on it,” says Sammie Jo Rumbaua, Mabuhay House Society Chairperson.
    She also noted it is important that we create genuine partnerships within our community
    that are based on a spirit of service and collaboration. And that this time around, we
    need to centre and prioritize healthy, open and honest relationships that will help us
    navigate the complexity of the work for a Filipino Cultural Centre.
    “A great lesson from the success of the Pinoy Festival is the importance of having our
    initiatives led by the community. It’s the only way we can be empowered to achieve
    long-lasting gains for everyone. It’s time for us to stand united and speak for
    ourselves. Panahon na para magkaisa for a Filipino Cultural Centre,” she added.
    Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley was also in attendance wearing a Barong Tagalog and
    along with Councillor Maita Santiago, he was joined by Councillors Pietro Calendino,
    Sav Dhaliwal, Daniel Tetrault and Richard Lee and Burnaby School Trustee Jen Mezei.
    During his remarks to festival attendees, Mayor Hurley expressed appreciation for the
    event and said he looked forward to hosting the Pinoy Festival again in Burnaby next
    year.
    Other elected government representatives respectfully present were MP Peter Julian,
    Filipino-Canadian North Vancouver School Trustee Lailani Tumaneng and Coquitlam
    Mayor Richard Stewart.
    To learn more about the Pinoy Festival and to see photos and videos from the
    celebration, please visit the pinoyfestival.ca.

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