June 1, 2017


Oral History Youth Forum & Gala Dinner Photos
On May 26, 2017 Aksyon Ng Ating Kabataan (ANAK) Inc. welcomed the community to join in an evening celebration of the PAGPAPANATILI Oral History Youth Forum. The following are greetings provided by ANAK Director, Johsa Manzanilla.
Good evening everyone – parents, supporters, community members, ANAK members, and students.  On behalf of Aksyon Ng Ating Kabataan, I am pleased to welcome all of you to tonight’s evening gala for our 10th annual youth forum, Pagpapanatili.

My name is Johsa Manzanilla and I am the Director of Aksyon Ng Ating Kabataan – or ANAK, which is the name that most of you are familiar with.  Our full name, which translates from Tagalog into English as “the action of our youth” or “Filipino youth in action” captures what we as an organization hope to be, what we as young people of Filipino descent hope to do – to participate, to be active, and to be engaged in our community.  We want to make our community a better, more supported place for ourselves and others like us.  We want to build bridges and we want to inspire youth to live up to their full potential.
We are happy that all of you here in the room have decided to come to the gala, to support our young people, and to listen to their voices, the sharing of their stories, and understand how they see their histories, their living realities, and how they wish our histories and realities as a Filipino community in Manitoba should be documented and remembered.

It is important to have a conversation about this, so that us as youth who ask questions (and we have many, but we may not always be so forthcoming) and who want to talk about potentially challenging issues, know we will be heard and that we will be responded to honestly and openly.

I want to take a moment to share with you a little bit about ANAK, how it came to be, and what we as ANAK members envision for the future.  I know that there may be some in the room who have only heard about ANAK recently, because of this youth forum, or through family and friends encouraging you to come out tonight.

ANAK started – believe it or not, but like many other organizations – with just four friends, who regularly met for coffee at Second Cup on Edmonton Street.  These four young people found through their casual conversations that they had shared experiences as Filipinos living in Canada.  They also found that the more they spoke about their experiences, the deeper the conversation got, where heavier topics were explored – like identity, culture, integration, belonging, racism, generational conflict, and being misunderstood.

They realized there was a need for clear, relevant, youth-oriented supports.  Real support that young people could actually relate to, created with a young audience in mind, that talked about topics that our parents might not necessarily want to discuss.

11 years later, ANAK is an organization whose reach goes far and wide, directly impacting many young Filipinos and Filipinas living in Winnipeg through our programs – and dialoguing with other young Filipinos and Filipinas across Canada (from UBC to York University and U of T) and to places as far as Hawaii and New York.  Our three main pillars: Resource, Education and Mentorship – on which we base our many initiatives and projects – has led us to create many resources and materials, events and programs, and mentorship connections, that would not have existed otherwise.  When once we did not see the Filipino story in our classroom history textbooks … we are now writing it – in our multi-volume oral history project Manila to Manitoba.  When once we did not see any conference or venue that provided us a safe space to talk about the hard questions that we wanted to ask … we organized workshops, mentorship programs, and forums like the one today which was held at the Manitoba Museum.  We write in local news papers about our own lives, because no one else will – and because we are the experts on our own history.

And we hope to continue this.  We hope to continue inspiring others.  And we hope you will continue to support us in our endeavours.

The intention of today’s youth forum, Pagpapanatili, was to facilitate Filipino students to understand their culture, their heritage, their histories, and their living realities – and give them tools to start thinking about how these stories need to be captured, documented and preserved.  If we as Filipino-Canadians living in Manitoba do not reflect on how we wish to be remembered, our story will be lost.  I think the participants today understood that, and we hope that through their presentations, you too will also come to see the importance of today and this youth forum as we move forward.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty of the day’s activities, as there will be a piece later in the program about that – right before the presentations of our youth forum participants.  But as I conclude, I’d like to make an observation about today’s process: at the beginning, as participants walked around the museum, they observed how old and ‘outdated’ the exhibits were.  Many did not see how any of the history on display was relevant to their experience.  However, as the day went on, the participants started to understand that history is not just in the past, but it is a living present, a living reality – and how our history –their history- goes into the future.

This change is what I hope you will see from the participants’ presentations today.  Their reflections are candid, honest and real opinions on how they feel and believe their realities should be told.  I respect them for their truth, and I encourage you all to listen with open hearts and walk away from today with more understanding and insight from our young people.

Once again, thank you for coming tonight and supporting ANAK and our youth forum participants.  A special thank you to our sponsors for your donations and to our special guests for taking time out of your busy schedules to join us in celebrating our histories and voices.

Have a good evening, daghang salamat, maraming salamat.