What is the Philippine Arts Council?

By: Alisa Samuel

Published on: September 08 2022

         Photo: Jasmine Atay  

The Philippine Arts Council is a non-profit organization based in Edmonton, Alberta. It’s made up of Filipino immigrants and descendants who want to grow the presence of Filipino creatives in Canadian culture. Their projects include cultural events and educational workshops. In 2021, they released a documentary on both the heartwarming and sad survival stories of Filipino immigrants to Canada.  

Filipinos have been in Canada since as early as the 1890s. In the 1960s, Canada received its first major influx of Filipino immigrants. At the time, a points system further opened the country up to skilled newcomers.  

According to the 2016 census, Filipinos are one of the largest visible minority groups here. The government of Canada calls people who are not white or indigenous “a visible minority.” There are over 800 000 people living in Canada who report having Filipino origins. It’s the fastest growing ethnic group in Canada.  

In 2018, the House of Commons unanimously declared June of every year as Filipino Heritage Month across the country. Filipino Heritage Month is meant to officially celebrate and spread awareness of the contributions Filipinos make to Canadian social and cultural life.  

The Philippine Arts Council, however, reflects upon the teachings of Filipino history and culture all year round. The organization provides Filipino immigrants and descendants with a platform to share their work and network with other Canadian-Filipinos. The Philippine Arts Council is an artistic community that keeps the conversation about diversity in Canada alive. 

This year, the Philippine Arts Council presented “The Filipino in Me—Insights into Living Heritage” for Filipino Heritage Month. “The Filipino in Me” is a public online exhibit that explores Philippine living heritage in Canada through multimedia works. Various themes cut across the creations showcased. Check out the gallery here. You’ll see everything from naturally-sourced jewelry crafted by Filipino artisans to folklore-inspired traditional food. ​ 

Jasmine is a digital self-portrait of second generation Filipino/Turkish Albertan artist Jasmine Atay. She incorporated jasmine flowers into her design to represent both her name and the national flower of the Philippines. Her work appeared in the “The Filipino Living in Me” exhibit from the Philippine Arts Council. In case you want to see more of Jasmine Atay’s work you can visit her at https://www.instagram.com/jasmine.atay.designs.  

The Philippine Arts Council offers memberships for those who wish to support their work. For anyone struggling to obtain residency in Canada, the organization suggests reading Domestically Yours. A Caregiver’s Inspiring Journey by Annie Chua. It’s a book about a mother who left the Philippines to work and make money as a nanny in Fort McMurray, Alberta. She encountered homesickness and culture shock like so many newcomers do. But she overcame her hurdles. Chua is now a proud Canadian citizen who wishes to inspire you with her story.  

A 2018 study says Filipinos are “hospitable, amiable, and resilient” because of the values they hold. Some of these values include pakikisama (to get along with), pagkakabigan (friendship), and utang na loob (feeling grateful). You can say the efforts made by the Philippine Arts Council to honour their heritage outside of the Philippines is an expression of utang na loob.  

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