The year 2016 has come and gone. It's that time of the year again to review and reflect on the top news and events in a given month that have significant impact on Filipino Canadians, especially in Ontario’s Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Here are what I consider to be the big news stories over the 12-month period, summarized in compendious, chronological order as follows:
January: Effective January 1, the maximum Canada Pension Plan (CPP) retirement benefit for recipients age 65 will be $1,092.50 per month, an increase of 1.2 percent. The basic Old Age Security (OAS) pension will increase by 0.1 percent from $ 569.95 to $ 570.52 per month.
February: Conrad Santos, the first Filipino Canadian elected to a provincial legislature in 1981 as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in Manitoba, died on February 29.
March: The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on March 8 that Canada will welcome between 280,000 and 305,000 new permanent residents in 2017, with emphasis on family reunification. The Ontario Liberal Government declared that it will grant free tuition starting in school year 2017-2018 to more than 150,000 eligible, low -and-middle-income students whose parents earn $83,000 or less. Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford passed away on March 22. Filipino Canadian academics and writers participated at the National Metropolis Conference, the largest yearly gathering of immigration researchers, policymakers and community advocates in Canada, held in Toronto.
April: Three Filipino Canadians, Flor Marcelino (NDP), her brother-in-law Ted Marcelino (NDP), and Jon Reyes (Progressive Conservative) won as Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) in the Manitoba elections on April 19, the highest number of Filipino provincial legislators in Canadian political history. Popular livestream www.pinoyradio.com of Ontario has expanded its programming with exciting hourly- produced segments of news and information, talk shows.
May: The Canadian Multicultural Council-Asians in Ontario (CMC-AO) honoured Dr. Francis Rementilla with the 2016 Outstanding Asian-Canadian award, and Cristina Carpio as CMC-AO’s ‘poster hero’ on May 1. The Filipino Canadian Parents Association in Catholic Education (FCPACE) conducted its second annual conference of Catholic parents and teachers on enhanced parent engagement and involvement on May 14 at the Catholic Education Centre in Toronto. Rosalinda Tijam on May 14 was re-elected president of the Philippine Press Club of Ontario (PPCO). More than 250 students from the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) attended the York University-Centre for Asian Research lectures on ‘Filipino Voices in the Arts and Academia’. TCDSB's annual Proudly Pinoy Day-Asian Heritage Week was held on May 28 at the St. Maria Goretti Catholic School.
June: The Filipino Centre Toronto held the Pista Sa Toronto on June 12-13. The Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation Pinoy Fiesta and Trade Show was conducted at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on June 18.
July: The Philippine Independence Day Council Mabuhay Cup Invitational Tournament in basketball was conducted on July 23. So did other big community-based basketball leagues. The Kalayaan Centre held its Fiesta Ng Kalayaan on July 30-31 in Mississauga.
August: The Philippine Cultural Community Centre's Taste of Manila Street Festival III was held on August 20-21 at Bathurst Street. - Wilson Avenue area with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Filipino actor Alexander Xian Lim, and more than 300,000 people in attendance.
September: His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila and the seventh Filipino Cardinal, celebrated masses in the Greater Toronto Area on September 2 and September 4. The Philippine Independence Day Council’s Mabuhay Festival, Fashion Show and Parade was held on September 3 and September 4 at the Nathan Phillips Square, with 2013 Miss International Bea Rose Santiago and Toronto Mayor John Tory in attendance. On September 10, the Fiesta Filipina Dance Troupe of Canada commemorated its 50 years of existence.
October: Ontario's minimum hourly wage rose from $11.25 to $ 11.40 on October 1. Philippine Secretary of Agriculture Emmanuel Pinol and two other officials of the administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte attended a Toronto town hall meeting with Filipino Canadians on October 29.
November: Three Filipino Canadian publishers and journalists in Toronto- Hermie Garcia, Bin Kon Loo and Delano V. Europa - garnered recognition awards from the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada on November 4. The Philippine Chamber of Commerce-Toronto (PCCT) marked its 25th year milestone on November 19. The sixth Anghel Ng Tahanan Canada 2016 pageant was held on November 20. Broadcast journalist Gigi Grande of ABS-CBN in Manila, the 2016 Marshall McLuhan Fellowship awardee, was honoured by the Philippine Press Club -Ontario on November 29.
December: Immigration Minister John McCallum on December 7 vowed to cut processing times for spousal applications from the average of 26 months to within 12-18 months, and with an expanded annual quota for 2017. On December 10, Angely M. Pacis, a Filipino Canadian lawyer, won the nomination as the Conservative candidate for Member of the Provincial Parliament (MPP) in Mississauga Centre. Atty. Antonio M. Villarin announced his candidacy for MPP Nomination in Scarborough Centre.
Have a great, blessed, and bountiful 2017 throughout!
Tony A. San Juan is an educator, community advocate, and political commentator based in Toronto.