Through the hard work of the newly elected Board led by then President Victor Barrera, the Grand Opening of the new Filipino Community Centre was held on February 14, 1993. The celebration, well attended by our kababayans, members and their families and friends, supporters, and invited government officials, featured not only the customary ribbon-cutting ceremony, but also had the makings of a typical Filipino fiesta (feast): a special time for fellowship with the celebration of a community mass, lots of different foods and delicacies, and performances by local artists and dancing led by the Luzviminda Dance Troupe. It was a remarkably memorable event and signalled the start of many years of the Centre opening its doors to the community.
Three (3) years after FCCI’s temporary use of the building, CLW decided to sell it along with the adjacent property rented by the Maranatha Christian School. CLW agreed to sell the property to Maranatha, under a provision that the part of the property occupied by FCCI will be severed and FCCI be given the option to buy this part of the property and the building. This seemed to be a colossal undertaking, given the Centre’s meagre financial and human resources. Nonetheless, led by their very optimistic President, the late Mrs. Nida Brocoy, the Board decided to put in an offer to acquire the property which was finally severed and FCCI’s purchase offer was accepted in 1997. This purchase brought to the fore the need for major financial outlay which was met through a combination of monies raised from various fundraising campaigns, donations and/or loans from members and supporters, along with a banking mortgage. In 2005, the mortgage was fully settled and the privately funded loans were paid.
Over the years, the operational requirements were mainly covered by membership fees and rental fees. While the major part of the upkeep such as caretaking, maintenance, and minor repairs, has been, to this day, handled by dedicated, long-serving volunteers and Centre members.
Under the leadership of its long-term and current President Milo Santos and with the help of numerous hardworking and committed volunteers, the Centre has gone through many much needed structural and aesthetic changes during the last several years. These projects could not have been undertaken without the help and generosity of the Centre members, their families, friends and benefactors.
In 2012, the FCCI applied for and received significant financial assistance from both the Provincial Government through the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Government of Canada through its Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund Program carried out by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. Along with the requisite counterpart funding raised by the FCCI, these Provincial and Federal grant funds were used toward an expansion and improvement of the Centre. This project was completed in March 2014 and the much improved Community Centre was presented to the Project Funding providers, benefactors, and the community at a Grand Re-opening on June 14, 2014.
The FCCI has had its share of advocacy for the disadvantaged both in our community and in the Philippines. It has been a critical point of contact for many newcomers to Canada, some of whom may not have family members or friends upon arrival. It has also been a source of information for members of our community needing advice or assistance about various concerns. For many occasions, the Centre has pulled in its membership and other community resources to put together fundraising campaigns to benefit people in the Philippines who have been severely and adversely affected by calamities. One worthy of mention was the fundraising campaign for Filipino communities affected by typhoon Haiyan in 2013 which took thousands of lives and caused catastrophic destruction mostly in the Visayan regions of the Philippines. FCCI was able to raise $47,600 which was remitted to GlobalMedic, an organization that was one of the earliest emergency providers for areas and people affected by that super typhoon. It also needs noting that these funds were given to and used by a recognized Canadian charitable organization in the Philippines, were matched by the Canadian government.
The Filipino Centre has been the place to go for some major and notable community events and celebrations; among others, Gala Celebrations, Carrousel of the Nations, Flores de Mayo, Karaoke Night, and various religious and cultural activities. In addition, it has been home for the International (Filipino) Language and Culture classes funded by the Ministry of Education. This is an avenue for young Filipino-Canadians to learn not only the Tagalog language but the many other facets of our unique culture.
In October 2001, the Philippine Consulate in Toronto held its first outreach program in Windsor for consular services and information updates for our kababayans. The Consulate has been providing the same service at the Centre every year since.
Access to the Centre has not been limited to Filipino-Canadians. The FCC has also collaborated with and/or assisted and accommodated a number of non-profit organizations and other ethnic groups on numerous community and cultural events.
Much has been done during the last twenty five years but MUCH MORE IS YET TO BE ACCOMPLISHED….