In the spirit of respect and celebration, the Halohalo Organization, once again hosts the HaloHalo Festival, now on its third year, this year, honoring Canada’s 150 years of confederation. Above all, the event acknowledges the 10,000 years of Aboriginal history, and includes the greeting, welcome address and speech by Chief Elder Jacqui Lavale , who invoked the four directions of earth, and performed a smudging ceremony. As well, Sue ”Eagle Woman” Pewean led a group of First Nations hand drum singers/performers, in a welcome dance. The event was held again at the Artscape Wychwood Barns in Toronto.
In a move of historical parallelism , the Philippine aboriginal Kalingas performed a traditional welcome dance as well, amidst the accompaniment of gongs and movements similar to that of the Canadian aboriginals.
Rose Tijam (this writer), one of the two masters of ceremony, stated that this event thanks and honors the Aboriginals of this land that we ( Filipinos ) respectfully came to, to adopt and live in, far away from our native land – to seek peace, harmony, and prosperity thru hard work and labor. She cited the Kalingas as one of the Philippine aboriginals, as true holders of our culture and traditions.
In his opening speech, Voltaire Ruiz de Leon, chair of the HaloHalo Organization, paid homage to the parallel history of colonialism in both countries and other places. He spoke of the long struggle of the Aboriginals in their quest for respect and ownership of the land and culture, that were by history, their own.
The grand opening was followed by brief speeches by various dignitaries , among them, Consul General Rosalita Prospero, and the Deputy Consul General, Senator Tobias Enverga, Jr., and the primary sponsor of the HaloHalo festival, Councillor Joe Mihevc, and others.
Performances were presented by noted Filipino Canadian singers and dancers, among them, Lito Guico; , the Multicultural Dance Troupe led by Annabelle Chipongga; 10 year old Nicolas Manlapaz; the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation – Pageants Committee performers; the FilCore Group’s fashion show participants who wore beautiful gowns made of inexpensive recyclable materials; Camille Mendoza; DK Tijam; Rhon Ross’ martial arts experts who demonstrated the defense art of “Arnis,” the Step-By-Step dancers headed by Nydia Nene who wowed the audience with their Latino dance numbers; and many others.
Ariana Cuvin, a Filipino Canadian and an honor student and now alumna of University of Waterloo, was cited with a Certificate of Recognition, for her winning the federal contest for the logo for Canada 150 celebration. She won the honor in 2015, among more than 400 contestants throughout Canada. She was one of the special guests at a convocation with then visiting Philippine President Benigno Aquino and then Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The HaloHalo Organization, a small but highly dynamic group whose members include Maria Guiao, Marcie Bernal, Ann Nacorda, Hernani Ruiz de Leon, Merfa Bataclan, this writer Rose Tijam, and led by Voltair Ruiz de Leon, are encouraged by the audience’s enthusiasm and ever growing attendance at the the event. At their post evaluation meeting, it was concluded that plans are in order for next year’s growing event.