For two years in a row, the Filipino Centre of Toronto (FCT), in its September 28, 2021 letter to its members, announced the cancellation of the 2021 (October) Annual General Meeting (AGM), this time citing their decision was after consulting with Public Health on the Delta variant. FCT also ruled out a virtual AGM conference saying it may not be a viable option for its members.
Comparatively, Markham Federation of Filipino Canadians (MFFC) and the Kalayaan Cultural Community Centre (KCCC) in Mississauga have consistently maintained their regular scheduled 2020 and 2021 AGMs. Both consider virtual conferences a matter of course in this pandemic, while FCT finds virtual meetings unworkable for its members.
But socials are fine?
Interestingly, FCT held a ‘Members Appreciation Dinner Event’ last September 19, 2021 at its location. Over 50 guests enjoyed a pre-pandemic buffet style meal, sat at formal dining tables, listened to marketing presentations, watched an Arnis demonstration, and socialized for the evening.
Former Board members, Luchi Sivilia, Leo Mascarinas, Comelec- Rose Tijam, Fermer Santos with no masks in indoor setting
Members question if FCT ever consulted Public Health for this particular gathering. In addition, pictures on Facebook (shown here) raised concerns regarding the observance of face masks, social distancing, and food service protocols.
FCT President & CEO Mary Ann San Juan with Felisa “Baby” Palumbarit who pitched a Pre-Planning Funeral Arrangement for Chapel Ridge in Markham
It begs to be asked – if a social gathering is viable, how come an annual AGM, mandated by the constitution, is not?
Was the 2021 AGM conveniently cancelled by the Board to possibly avoid facing the rash of questions from members related to ongoing governance and financial issues, and more recently the Board resignation of Dr. Vicky Liu?
Paul Arena and Leo Mascarinas unmasked in an indoor event
Buffet line up with no proper distancing and food serving, and diners touching or handling serving utensils
FCT appears to be truly beholden to setting or breaking records of sorts, namely;
- No final and member-approved Financial Statements for 5 years (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020)
- It’s taking three years and counting to carry out a 2018 AGM-approved motion to complete an Independent Third Party Financial Audit given the Board’s reluctance, resistance, and refusal
- Three years of no AGM (2017, 2020 & 2021)
- The wealthiest Filipino community organization in Canada with its $5.9 M income from the sale of the old Parliament St. building
- Top legal spender among Filipino community associations (possibly incurring over $1 M in lawyer fees since its inception)
The fundamental contradiction lay in the proclamation of its Chairman, Efren De Villa, during his speech at the 2018 opening ceremony of the new office when he emphatically declared that FCT is a ‘transparent organization.’
Best to let the records speak for themselves.
In the face of these unfavorable distinctions the critical question remains – is the membership’s confidence in the FCT leadership still intact?
by Maria CJ De Villa
Publisher’s Note: The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the writer’s. Atin Ito welcomes any reactions, any other relevant information and submissions from all interested parties regarding the contents of this article. Please email us at info@AINewsMediaOne.com.