The Dream Must Go On...
Dr. Guillermo de Villa, Jr. was always proud of his Filipino heritage. He saw our community here in Toronto and felt that there was a need for Filipinos to preserve their identity and individuality while at the same time making their presence felt in their new country. He wanted Filipino youth to recognize their roots, and be proud of their own culture.
He dared to dream to establish a community centre, wherein Filipinos can congregate, meet, socialize, help newcomers, and educate the youth. It would be a place to meet the kababayans, allow the elders of the community to meet without worrying about being sent away as they had been in the coffee shops and restaurants of the city. It would be a place for new immigrants to seek help, to orient them to community agencies and to provide assistance in finding job placements and contacts. It would be a place where displaced members of the Filipino community could find solace, emotional support and guidance. A library would be established to allow Filipinos and non-Filipinos to read about the Philippines, and learn about its cultures and traditions.
Many years passed before that dream was realized but a group of dedicated Filipinos, made the dream came true. The Filipino Centre came to fruition with the help of the Philippines Consulate and the dedications of like-minded Filipinos. This Centre is now the meeting place for many Filipinos. A Filipiniana library has been established. There is a free medical clinic for our kababayans. There is a homework club for students ensuring that the Filipino youth are encouraged to continue their schooling, as education is the best legacy for our youth. Outstanding students are recognized by the Awards for Academic Excellence. A Filipino class has been established and caters not only to children of Filipinos but also to other nationals who have either intermarried with Filipinos or are interested in learning the language. The musical talent that the Filipinos are famous for is showcased by the Filipino Singing Idol Contest, and Dancing classes are offered at the Centre. There is an active program for the Seniors of the community.
Much has been accomplished in the last few years. These achievements, however, came at a price of time, money and criticism from some members of the community. It should be remembered that the organization was run by volunteers, and the members learned along the way. These volunteers not only spent their own money but also selflessly gave their personal time and talents to refurbish the property at 597 Parliament Street, making the place a showcase we can all be proud of. All of these accomplishments are there for anyone in the community to see. They have been achieved through the hard work and unselfish dedication of the officers and members of the community Centre. The success and continued viability of the Centre is dependent on the quality of integrity of its members and officers and their ability to work together as a team with one common goal: to ensure that the Centre truly serves the Filipino community as a whole.
May the dream live on… Mabuhay ang Filipino! Mabuhay ang FCT!