The City of Brampton hosted the Halo-Halo festival at city hall to commemorate the Independence Day of the Philippines.
The event at Ken Whillans Square was organized to remember the national heroes of the Filipino community and to celebrate their food, culture and music.
Mitch Arrojado, President of the Federation of Filipino Canadians in Brampton, said organizers had been preparing for months.
“We plan it two months ahead. We started talking to city hall. We invited the vendors and other organizations to be at this event,” he said.
“City Hall took care of all the facilities inside here. All we need to do is organize the vendors, the program, and the people attending,” Arrojado said.
Dignitaries and officials who attended included Peel Coun. Rowena Santos and Bampton South Liberal MP Sonia Sidh.
Santos said that it took so many years for the Filipino community to establish roots in Canada, but now it is growing quickly and people can feel proud of what her community has accomplished.
“We are starting to learn, celebrate, and be incredibly proud of who we are as a people, and stand on the shoulders of all of our Lolas and Lolos and Titas and Titos, our elders, who got us here to this country for a better life,” she said.
The festival was organized by the Brampton Filipino Seniors Club (BFSC) and the Federation of Filipino Canadians of Brampton (FFCB).
Jorey Ann Godoy, a participant at the event, said that she enjoyed the food most, which reminded her of her connection to the Philippines.
“My favourite part of celebrating Halo-Halo Party is, of course, the food,” she said. “I feel like I’m in the Philippines.”
Jorey said that it was also fascinating for her to speak in her own language with the Filipino community.
“And also to connect with the Filipinos who live here in Brampton, especially by talking in our dialect or the Tagalog back home,” she said.
“So, it’s very nice to talk not in English but in our language from back home.”
Maria Salac, a Filipino-Canadian singer who performed at the festival, said that the best part of the festival other than her performance was spending quality time with her friends.
“I have a lot of favourite parts, other than my performance, of course, but most of it is just spending time with the Filipino community and sharing stories ever since COVID Right. So, we’re all coming back,” she said.
Another event that she liked was the traditional dance with bamboo sticks.
“One of my favourite traditions would be they’re dancing them. It’s a Filipino dance called Tiny, and they use bamboo sticks,” she said.
“They open and close the bamboo sticks, and you have to make sure your ankles don’t get caught.”
“It has taken so many years for our community to set roots here in the city of Brampton,” Santos said.
“Our national tree in the Philippines is the bamboo tree, one of the strongest and most resilient trees. That is who we are as a Filipino community.”
“And our roots, just like the bamboo tree, are so strong in the ground that now we are growing very, very quickly,” Santos said.