Montréal, Québec -- This year's Cordillera Day coincides with the Roman Catholic Church's Easter Sunday. Held each year on April 24th, Cordillera Day is a cultural celebration of the struggles of the indigenous people in the Cordillera region of northern Philippines.
Here in Montreal, Cordillera Day has been celebrated for decades. This year's event was organized by the Centre for Philippine Concerns (Centre d'appui aux Philippines), Migrante Quebec, and Bayan Canada. Dr. Chandu Claver, Chairperson of Bayan Canada, presented a recorded message of solidarity.
The theme of the celebration was "Live out our glorious history of struggle; fight for life, land and honour."
The occasion started with a special Easter Mass by Rev. Fr. Artemio Calaycay with the choir singing Ang Bayan Ko. In his homily, Fr. Calaycay shared his thoughts about peace. He said that the biblical concept of peace is not just the absence of war, conflict or chaos but the "lifting up" of the sorry state of an individual or of the community. He explained, "The Philippine government should continue working for lasting peace as the Filipino people are already tired or systemic corruption, or rising cost of basic commodities, and of human rights violations."
The celebration also included a Skype conference with Luis Jalandoni and Coni Ledesma of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Jalandoni shared updates on the peace talk negotiations between the National Democratic Front (NDF) and Philippine government. Jalandoni said that the Aquino regime continue to exhibit unpeaceable attitudes and actions which has already victimized labor leaders, peasant and social activists and intensified the militarization of civilian communities in the rural areas. The NDF also celebrates its 38th founding anniversary of the revolutionary alliance on April 24.
To heighten the spirit of the Easter celebration, the native American drumming and singing group called ODAYA rendered a contemporary performance. The group is composed of women from different tribes of Canada whose mission is to share the joy and beauties of Indigenous cultures.
There were also cultural presentations by the Cordillera cultural group, PINAY and the children of Filipino Parents Support Group.
Founded in 1982, the Centre for Philippine Concerns is composed of Filipinos and non-Filipinos in Montreal, Quebec supporting the Filipino people's movement for National Democracy through advocacy and public education. The organization is also aligned with Bayan-Canada, Migrante-Canada and the International League of People's Struggles.
Migrante-Quebec is composed of different organizations. PINAY, a Filipino Women's Organization, works to empower and organize Filipino women in Quebec, particularly Filipino domestic workers. Most of its members are migrant workers under the Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP). For two decades Pinay has brought together domestic workers and their supporters together in the struggle for basic rights and welfare.
Other members are the Filipino Parents Support Group, Filipino Workers Support Group, Aklan Association of Montreal and the Cordillera Organizing Group.
And just like in many other Filipino celebrations, Pinoy foods, such as arroz caldo and pancit, were served after the Mass and cultural performances.
Contributed by Joyce Valbuena