Speaking on Filipinos contributions to Canada

Senator Enverga speaks to Filipino-Canadian contributions on 118th celebration of Declaration of Philippine Independence

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Her Excellency Petronila P. Garcia, Ambassador of the Philippines to Canada; Rose Tijam, President of Philippine Press Club Ontario; and Ben Ferrer, President of the Silayan Community. They are the guests of the Honourable Senator Enverga.

On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Philippine Declaration of Independence

One Hundred and Eighteenth Anniversary

Hon. Tobias C. Enverga, Jr.: Honourable senators, it is with pride that I rise today to bring to your attention that Sunday, June 12, marks the one hundred and eighteenth anniversary of the signing of the Philippine Declaration of Independence. This momentous event, which indicated the beginning of the end of 333 years of Spanish rule in the Philippines, also marked the first time that the Philippine flag was officially unfurled and the music of what would later become the Philippine national anthem was first played in public. Millions of Filipinos all over the world come together to celebrate this historic day to honour the sacrifices of our forefathers and to promote our unique cultural heritage.

Honourable senators, Filipinos make up a significant portion of Canadian society. Approximately 700,000 people of Filipino descent currently live in Canada. One can only assume that this number will continue to grow, especially when we consider the fact that the Philippines has once again become the top source country of permanent residents in 2015. Preliminary estimates of data compiled by Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada show that more than 50,000 permanent residents in 2015 came from the Philippines. In addition, facts and figures released last February indicate that the Philippines was among the top 10 countries of citizenship of temporary workers with a valid permit on December 31, 2014.

Honourable senators, the thousands of Filipinos who come to Canada every year continue to increase people-to-people ties that bolster the bilateral relations between Canada and the Philippines. These Filipinos — my kababayans, as we call one another — bring with them the unique customs, traditions and faith of my country of birth, thereby enriching the beautiful multicultural mosaic that is Canadian society. It is our proud cultural heritage that we celebrate today, along with the hard work and sacrifice of the Filipino people, past and present, within the Philippines and without.

Honourable senators, the Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, once said: “He who does not know how to look back at where he came from will never get to his destination.” Honourable senators, we are proud to say that Canada is our destination, and we are home.

I wish to end in my native language, Tagalog: Maraming salamat, at mabuhay tayong lahat, which means thank you very much.