Patriots at the Mabuhay Fest
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Mabuhay Festival 2009
Metro Toronto Convention Center
What will make you drive downtown to watch Mike Hanopol, Pepe Smith and the rest of Juan De La Cruz Band, or eat barbecue or listen to a spiel of how you and your youth members can join an immersion program in the Philippines and stay in a GK village for a week?
Nostalgia perhaps? Or craving for greasy food?
I know the answer. Your patriotism.
Yes it is that blood that runs through your veins, that same blood that was shed by countless heroes from Lapu Lapu to Rizal and the very reason for Philippine Independence Day Council (PIDC-Toronto) why every year, every June 12th and every summer they have been producing this great event, a showcase and a celebration of Pinoy heroism.
In 2006, we attended our first Mabuhay Festival in the same venue and with the same intention - to be with "kababayans" to celebrate our culture, our music and our food. It was also the same day that my wife and I decided to volunteer for Gawad Kalinga. Three (3) years after and 2 summers in the Philippines doing immersion programs and building houses for our brothers and sisters as part of GK Youth Build, the love for our motherland has strengthened and even with the new found citizenship and adoption of a nation for us, the ties has all the more deepened.
We now, with close to 8 million other Filipinos all over the world should really have that fire in the belly to solidify our thrust to help our country in any which we can.
GK Youth Build was in the Mabuhay Fest to inspire the youth towards volunteerism. We know that there is always interest in giving back and the youth are the best sources for energy and excitement to help our country rise above.
We did not fail.
There were more than 20 signees to volunteer. And hopefully, out of these 20, there will be at least a dozen who will take up the challenge and be the driving force for GK youth in Canada.
The manangs from Marinduque will be very proud of their efforts. In 2008, they created by hand more than 30 pieces of jewelry. Out of their desire to make this a part of their livelihood, one of our GKYB participants, Therese Cruz, taught them how to create masterpieces from donated beads coming out of the "Bag of Beads" program the youth designed. Our very own Elvie Tan, Maripi Leynes and Ryan Diongco, took turns in selling more than 80% of the jewelry.
We are ready to send the money to Marinduque, and who knows, out of the 20 who bought it, we might discover a possible wholesaler in the future and will order, not just 30, but 300 pieces regularly. Anyone?
Lastly, the Mabuhay Festival has always been a crowd-drawer and this year's cast included Richard Guttierez, Rhian Ramos, Iza Calzado and Banana Q. Yes, those sugar coated yummeah merienda sold out fast even before it reached the display stand.
Oh well, that's one good reason to always go back and join Mabuhay Festival year in year out. But for me, banana-q or none, next year's event is already blocked off my calendar.
See you again next year!
For more images, including the jewelries created by hand our sisters in the GK Village in Gasan, Marinduque, please click here..