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The 9th August will forever live in our memories as the day Philippine Generations was officially unveiled.
It was held at the Voluntary Action Westminster building and we invited some key individuals, organisations and press. The main guests were the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Chairman of the Westminster Partnership for Racial Equality (WPRE) and the Deputy Chief of Mission from the Philippine Embassy. Also present were the Chairman of the Philippine Centre, a Director from Friends of Grenada, the Editor of the Filipino Observer, New-Manila.com, Filme Films, the Philippine Embassy also had their Cultural Attaché and their Information Officer as well as distinguished members of the community Angel Arando and Dr. Gapasin.
The key part of the day was the Q & A session. Several testing questions were thrown our way covering the issues of funding, time management and target audience. These are all issues we thoroughly explored prior to the ceremony and we were ready to address these issues. We clarified that funding will be project led but as Mirellie, our Treasurer put it; ‘You do not need money to make a difference.’ We all have careers and outside lives, so we are all giving up our time as volunteers and we believe passionately in what we are doing.
We are all committed to this cause and are under no illusions as to the difficulties we will face. One of the central themes of the day from our guests was the need to be united in our common cause and keep positive. There will obviously be plenty of people throwing doubts and criticisms our way so we must not lose sight of what we are doing and why.
The Filipino Community is tied to Westminster; it is where the majority of the 1970’s migrant workers started their lives in the UK, working in the hotel and catering industry. It is where many first went to church and some still travel from throughout London to attend mass at the Westminster Cathedral. Now the Immaculate Conception, Farm St Parish in Mayfair holds a regular Filipino Novena Mass. Westminster is where many Second Generation Filipinos work today as well as go out socially. The community in Westminster is largely transient but ever-present. It is here most people will encounter Filipinos going about their daily lives. It is here where we will make a difference, raise awareness of Filipino culture and where we aim to base all of our initiatives and events.
This is why we made a conscious decision to base ourselves in Westminster, in the Centre of London. This is also the main reason why we wanted our main signatories to be the Lord Mayor and the Chairman of the WPRE.
Our aim is to show that the Filipino community should not continue trying to preach to the converted, we will only make a real difference in the status and awareness of the Philippines when non-Filipinos are involved and engaged. Our central tenets are to: Educate; Inspire and Enrich. Everything we do must keep to these principles irrespective of if we are dealing with Filipinos or other cultures and ethnicities.
The day ended on a high with toasts and messages of support given and kind words spoken. The Lord Mayor stated she could see that we had done our research and she was pleased to see the younger generation coming through, the Chairman of the WPRE extended his support and commended our cause and the Deputy Chief of Mission for the Philippine Embassy gave us his full backing and support in all our future endeavours.