The First Filipino-Canadian Gala was held last September 17 at the Northlands Edmonton Expo Centre. A night of dinner, entertainment and dancing, it was a celebration of Filipino-Canadian achievements and a way of giving back to the community. The net proceeds from ticket sales and auctions were earmarked to the Edmonton’s Food Bank.
On hand to deliver special greetings for the event were: Minister of Public Works and Government and Minister for Status of Women Rona Ambrose; Executive Director of Edmonton’s Food Bank Marjorie Bencz; Chair of Edmonton’s Food Bank Board Anne Smith; Ward 12 Councillor Amarjeet Sohi; and President and CEO of Northlands Richard Anderson.
Along with the Philippine cuisine-inspired dinner, guests were treated to a night of Filipino talent: Philippine Choral Group, who sang the Philippine & Canadian national anthems; The Lucila Project, a neo-ethnic dance company; singers Wency Calderon, Jo-Ann Aguilar and Shwag choral group ; Alyssa & Monica Tungul, pianist & violinist, respectively; hiphop groups ILLustration and Hot Sauce; Saranay Kwerdas, an ensemble using traditional Filipino instruments; and bands The Sour Patch Kids and GERIS Project. The Philippine Outreach Program was also honored and Filipino Canadians who passed away recently were remembered.
Guests may have come to enjoy themselves for the evening but generously participated in the “giving back” portion of the night through the silent auction items and live auction of a Lexus CT200 Hybrid car and some dinner and hotel packages, conducted by Kastner Auctions.
It was a highly successful event with about 800 people in attendance, a third of which were non-Filipinos who came out to support this Filipino fundraiser. And with this success came pledges of support and participation for next year’s Filipino-Canadian Gala, which is slated for September 2012. Credit goes to organizer Lixmila Serrano and partner producer Ramon Cifra for their boldness in conceptualizing and hurdling the various obstacles that come in organizing such a massive but elegant event, and for securing major sponsorships from Lexus of Edmonton, Dolce Vita Homes, Wild West Shooting Range and Sun Life Financial.
The Filipinos are the fourth largest group of immigrants to Canada and many have established their niches in their adopted country. They are great contributors to not only the Canadian economy but the Philippines as well, supporting family back home and actively participating in various fundraisers and causes in the Philippines. This event was another manifestation of the Filipinos’ “balikbayan” spirit - that spirit of community and giving.
* This article was written for and published in the Pinoy Times, October 2011 issue.