Manitoba Filipino Street Festival makes triumphant return after cancellation last year

Manitoba’s Filipino community is gathering in Winnipeg this weekend for a street festival to celebrate their heritage with music, dancing and food, after having to cancel last year’s celebration due to COVID-19.

Though the crowd on Saturday was only about half of what the event would have seen before the pandemic, Manitoba Filipino Street Festival chairman Ley Navarro said people have been looking forward to attending this event again.

“It’s a scaled-down event, but nonetheless it’s still fun,” Navarro said, adding that the festival is the one time every year when Manitoba’s more than 100 Filipino community groups all get together in celebration.

Genalyn Tan said members of her organization, the Manitoba Association of Filipino Teachers, were among those looking forward to the event happening again, following its hiatus last summer.

“It’s one way of showing how Filipinos are very happy people. They are united, and you can see how hopeful they are despite this challenging time,” Tan said.

Genalyn Tan is part of the Manitoba Association of Filipino Teachers. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Nemchel Sarmiento said it had actually been a few years since she’d been back at the festival — and she was most looking forward to the food.

“It feels like being back in the Philippines,” she said. “It feels like a close-knit community again.”

Cañao ceremony

One of the events at this year’s festival is a traditional ceremony called Cañao, which has been passed down by generations of Indigenous people from the mountainous highlands in the northern part of the Philippines.

“We showcase our dances with our different costumes, and we have the beating of the gong,” said Marife Cadag, the president of the Bibak Association of Manitoba, earlier Saturday on CBC Manitoba’s Weekend Morning Show.

Cañao is an ceremony that marks important occasions, including marriages, healing, births, burials and trips in the Luzon province of the Philippines. It pre-dates Spanish colonization, Cadag said.

Normally, pigs or chickens are butchered for feasts, and people dance in traditional regalia of the Igorot peoples.

Cadag’s grandmother passed the tradition on to her family, and now she is ensuring the tradition lives on through her two sons.

“I’m so happy that my two boys are joining … they’re also dancing today. They’re proud of their roots,” she said. 

A group of people wave at the Manitoba Filipino Street Festival on Saturday. (Travis Golby/CBC)

“It’s just nice to be coming here in Canada and then we are continuing to see all these dances and gathering.”

The Manitoba Filipino Street Festival runs through Saturday and Sunday at the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba at 737 Keewatin St.

Information Radio – MB6:27Want to celebrate summer in Filipino style this weekend?

Host Marcy Markusa speaks with Manitoba Filipino Street Festival Chairman Ley Navarro about this weekend’s festivities. 6:27

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