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By Rosalinda Cerrudo-Javier (In Collaboration with Rodel Ramos)
Events/Activities leading To The Purchase Of FCT Building
The official launching and the oath taking of the officers and Board of Directors of the newly formed Filipino Centre Toronto took place at the Metro Convention Centre on March 10, 2000.
This was the beginning of the Filipino Centre Toronto’s (FCT) hectic fundraising campaign while at the same time, trying to gain foothold of the services and activities badly needed by the Filipino-Canadians in the GTA. Also, FCT was seriously making inroads into the consciousness of mainstream and other ethnic communities of the GTA, as well as politicians that the Filipino Centre Toronto has finally cut into the scene and was here to stay!
The president, Linda Javier felt that for FCT to be taken seriously by her own community, FCT should have a decent and respectable place for their headquarters to hold their strategic planning, meetings, small gatherings, etc. A little office was rented in a strip mall along Wilson Avenue near the corner of Bathurst Street which was FCT’s headquarters until December 17, 2002.
Meanwhile, pledges were slowly pouring in and the launching earned the group a little over eleven thousand dollars. Surprisingly enough, when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visited Toronto in 2002, she directed her financial officer in a speech at the Metro convention Centre, to give the Filipino Centre Toronto a cheque for $5000 US. Needless to say, this generous gesture sparked more interest (and donations) from the Filipino-Canadian community of the GTA.
As mentioned earlier on, the intensity in raising funds for the project took a toll on the FCT board as some members of the newly formed board of directors bowed out. Replaced were Rick Falco, Cecilia Mojica, Mann Nacario, Ernie Quinit, Ores Ting, and Bernadette Zaragosa by Aida D’Orazio, Efren de Villa, Julito Longkines, Linda Taiabjee, OrlandoTavarez and NobelaTumbokon. The latter group was inducted at St. Boniface church hall in 2001.
FCT had its LOGO contest and two grand raffle initiatives were undertaken. Participating Filipino convenience stores in the area were given clear plastic donation boxes. Walkathons and bowling were held, dinner dances here and there were advertised and attended. Direct fundraising pleas/campaigns were conducted while private ‘whispers for FCT donations’ by board members and supporters to their friends and relatives were also happening.
Unfortunately, not too long after the logo contest, two members of the FCT board passed away: Tessie Jew and Vince Vargas. They were replaced by Mary Ann San Juan of the FCT secretariat and Camilla Jones recommended by Dr. Francisco Portugal.
Meanwhile, the now functioning Filipino Centre Toronto Board of Directors were asked to scout for a possible place, lot or building the board should consider to buy/lease or otherwise. Help from politicians was sought for possible government buildings that were on the block for purchase or better still for possible donation to an ethnic group like the Filipinos. As a result several places/buildings/spaces were checked out and in late spring of 2002, FCT seriously considered a little 2-storey building on Parliament Street in downtown Toronto.