The president of a new umbrella organization representing several Filipino groups criticized what he considers as an attempt to subvert efforts to forge unity in the community. Joel Castillo, who was elected as the founding president of the United Filipino Canadian Associations of B.C. (UFCABC), was reacting to an editorial published in the July 2015 edition of the MetroVan Independent newspaper that was written by its publisher Steve Marshall.
Marshall claimed that Castillo became involved in the formation of UFCABC in early 2015 because he lost in the election for the presidency of another organization, the Filipino Association of BC (FABC), two years earlier or in 2013.
“The issue of putting up an organization where I made myself president is not true at all,” Castillo said. Castillo described Marshall’s assertion as hurtful and demeaning to his person and integrity.
“How can Steve Marshall say such a thing? I only want to be of service to the community. What have I done to deserve such spiteful words?” Castillo said.
Castillo also said that Marshall is driving a wedge among Filipino community groups comprising UFCABC that are working for a common purpose.
“Filipino associations are living the spirit of bayanihan, which is a Filipino tradition of helping each other, in coming together at UFCABC. Bayanihan is a virtue that Filipinos value dearly. I’m not sure if Steve Marshall understands what bayanihan means,” Castillo said.
Castillo said that getting elected as president of a new organization didn’t even enter his mind when he got involved in the new organization.
Castillo said that early this year, the Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver decided that because of its heavy work load, it is relinquishing its leadership in the organizing of the yearly Pista ng
Bayan at Vancouver’s Slocan Park to celebrate Philippine Independence Day. He said that the consulate invited Filipino associations and known community figures to a meeting to pass on the responsibility of putting together the Philippine Independence Day event.
“Everybody was given the chance to join and volunteer,” Castillo said.
All heads of recognized Filipino associations were given due notice and an opportunity to serve as volunteer or member. These included associations that Marshall mentioned in his editorial. Narima dela Cruz of the Surrey Independence Day Society (SPIDS) was invited to the first meeting presided over by the consulate general but she did not show up. Alvin Relleve of the Metro Vancouver Philippine Arts & Culture Exposition Society (MV-PACES) showed up at the meeting. Carlito Pradas, who defeated Castillo by only (1) one vote for the FABC presidency, was present at the meeting. Marshall’s wife Luisa did not show up at the meeting.
“Neither of them cannot now question the legitimacy of the proceedings because they were given due notice and ample opportunity to participate,” Castillo said.
Castillo said that the first meeting called by the consulate was followed by more meetings among community members who chose to participate and volunteer, leading to the eventual formation of UFCABC.
“I didn’t even expect myself to be the president until I was elected by the body,” Castillo said.
Castillo was elected president in a meeting that was facilitated by Deputy Consul General Anthony Achilles Man- dap of the Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver.
Castillo also said that when the consulate started the Pista ng Bayan event many years ago, he had been involved in the project. He continued to be involved in this initiative even after the consulate decided it was passing on the responsibility to community members.
The UFABC led the successful celebration of Philippine Independence Day at Vancouver’s Slocan Park. The celebration was followed up by a well attended gala dinner at Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver.
Castillo said: “Some people are out to destroy UFCABC because they are threatened by the unity of this organization.”
Photo: Joel Castillo, founding president of the United Filipino Canadian Associations of B.C. shares a light moment with Deputy Consul General Anthony Achilles Mandap of the Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver.