June 23rd, 2024

Flag raised to celebrate Filipino heritage

By Lethbridge Herald on June 11, 2024.

Herald photo by Al Beeber Caydenze Rivera-To and Dom Doria hold their hands to their hearts as the Philippines national anthem played during a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall on Monday morning.

Al Beeber
Lethbridge Herald

More than 3,000 members of the Filipino community live in the Lethbridge area and on Monday morning they honoured their heritage with a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall.

Today, the lights at City Hall will for the first time be illuminated in the national colours of the Philippines for the month to commemorate Philippine Independence Month.

Monday’s event was the first of a couple this week with the Lethbridge Filipino Heritage Festival set to run Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. at Henderson Lake to honour Filipino Heritage Month.

A big attraction for the Filipino community will be a performance by singer Ariel Rivera, a popular singer/songwriter in his home country, who hits the stage at 6:30 p.m.

Under sunny skies, as the Philippines national anthem played, the flag was raised in front of a small crowd by Miss  Pre-Teen southern Alberta 2024 Caydenze Rivera-To and Dom Doria.

The local Filipino Association was started in 1989 when fewer than 60 families of the community lived in the city.

Association president Vic Visitacion told the gathering that the upcoming festival is an opportunity to celebrate Filipino culture, talent and their contributions to the world.

This festival will be the fourth staged by the association, he said.

Original member Arlene Visser recalls that when the association started there were only four children among them.

The association was formed to gather all members of the community on special occasions, she said, and added Visitacion, to make the community more vibrant.

“For us, we’re away from our families, from our country then we want to have a sense of community, a sense of belonging so we gather each other and make sure that we make Lethbridge like home,” he said.

During the ceremony, he told fellow members the province declared Filipino Heritage Month in 2018.

“We try to open it up to the community because we try to be inclusive,” he said of the upcoming celebration. There will be 50 booths at Henderson and different entertainment, including a Sunday talent show.

Past president Linda Helwig said while members of the community come from different walks of life, different provinces and speak different dialects, they share a legacy.

“We share the love of music, of dance and especially food. We love to eat if you don’t know that already,” Helwig said.

She reflected on the past and talked about the contributions of Filipina women in Canada including several politicians in Manitoba, Montreal, Missisaugga, Ont.  and the Yukon.

Among the people watching the ceremony were members of the Alpha Kappa Rho fraternity and sorority which was established in the Philippines in 1973.

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