An Open Letter to Anakbayan Canada

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  • Dear Anakbayan Canada,

    You did it! Anakbayan Canada is here! The snowfall in downtown Toronto did not dampen your spirits as you gathered, shared stories, strategized, and organized during the weekend of November 18-20 to launch the Canada-wide Youth organization of Anakbayan or AB (Sons and Daughters of the People).

    Launching the Anakbayan Canada is a hallmark event in the history of Pinoy youth and student (YS) organizing in Canada. All of you were makers of that history. Anakbayan stands out among all the YS Pinoy organizations because it is the comprehensive national democratic mass organization of the Filipino youth. I would even dare to say that Anakbayan Canada is the militant Pinoy youth organization, secure with a strong grassroots mass base and a diverse profile of Pinoy youth, including 1.5 generation youth, newcomer youth, and youth born and raised in Canada and elsewhere outside of the Philippines.

    You did not only look happy, you were really happy. Proud. Confident. Passionate. And hard-working. You came, 150 strong, from different places as representatives of your youth groups from Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Peterborough, Hamilton, and Alberta, summoned by the youth conference aptly titled “Sulong Kabataan!”/ Onward Youth!You met your youth counterparts who came from Anakbayan Europe, the USA and the Philippines and know that there are more of you from our global diaspora.

    You made the older kababayan even prouder. The older activists, parents, generic uncles and aunties at the back of the room were all smiles. The memories of younger days, oh,so many decades ago, do come back and because the commitment and nationalist fervour are never forgotten, the act of remembering tugs at the heart and tightens the chest. This kind of love, ang pag-ibig sa tinubuang lupa, the love of country, is one that stays constant, regardless of how old we are and how long and far away we have traveled, and even if our life circumstances have drastically changed. Personal loves and relationships are made, sometimes broken, maybe more times than we would like to keep count but there is one constant. We keep our love and ties to our country and the movement for national democratic change close to our hearts.

    When you sang the love songs, even the militant marching songs, when you chanted the calls that still ring true, when you rapped and brandished the spoken word, and when you shared the gifts of dance, poetry, art and music with the vigour and enthusiasm of the young, it was not difficult to be carried away. All of us oldies in the room knew what you were feeling because we also were young once and were wrapped in those feelings as well.

    You should have seen your faces and heard your own voices when you stood before your peers and reported on your workshops. You spoke clearly and your language was refreshing and sharp in analyses and reflections. Your actions and words had the stamp of the critical mind set, good idealism, and deep nationalist sentiments so characteristic of the youth. You are learning what it means to Serve the People.
    You may not realize it but do know that all of you belong to a proud and brave lineage. You are descendants of brave men and women in our history, a lot of them young people, who dared to fight in the old democratic revolution and who we now revere as our heroes – including Andres Bonifacio, Gregorio del Pilar, Gabriela Silang, the members of the Katipunan. That unfinished revolution in our history continues on; the youth continues to take on an important and decisive role in advancing the patriotic and progressive mass movement. All of you are heirs to the Katipunan Legacy.

    Your launching of the Canada-wide Anakbayan happens at a time when the young people in the Philippines and overseas have gone out into the streets to protest the burial of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani. The youth marched alongside senior citizen activists and many victims of martial law. It was a moving sight, multiplied and repeated in many cities and highways in the Philippines and overseas. You will also mark November 30, the birthdate of Andres Bonifacio and the founding of the Kabataang Makabayan/Nationalist Youth as a nation-wide alliance of youth and students starting from hereon.

    You will need to study your history and know it well, otherwise how will you change the world and create a better future? You will need to learn to organize well and these skills, when learned and internalized, will always be with you, wherever you go. You will learn so many things, on top of what you study from school and university. Patience and daringness, kindness and courage, you will keep close to you and which you will teach others as well.

    Be proud of yourselves. Hold your heads high. You have done your parents and your elders proud. And many years from now, you will remember the “high” that you felt working to launch Anakbayan Canada, because it has never left your heart.

    Congratulations to all of you and to the new officers of the Anakbayan Canada: Sarah Salise (AB Toronto) as Secretary General, Renzo Grospe (AB Montreal) and Rhea Gamana (AB Toronto) as Co-Chairs and Zharmaine Ante (AB Montreal) as Finance Officer and to the members of the National Council which will be formed with representatives from the five regions of Canada.

    Sarah Salise, AB Canada Secretary General, told Toronto writer Pet Cleto that “Anakbayan Canada’s founding is very significant because it shows that Filipino youth are ready to serve our communities here in Canada and the Philippines to fight for genuine change and lasting peace for our people.”
    You may not realize it but do know that all of you belong to a proud and brave lineage. You are descendants of brave men and women in our history, a lot of them young people, who dared to fight in the old democratic revolution and who we now revere as our heroes – including Andres Bonifacio, Gregorio del Pilar, Gabriela Silang, the members of the Katipunan. That unfinished revolution in our history continues on; the youth continues to take on an important and decisive role in advancing the patriotic and progressive mass movement. All of you are heirs to the Katipunan Legacy.

    Your launching of the Canada-wide Anakbayan happens at a time when the young people in the Philippines and overseas have gone out into the streets to protest the burial of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani. The youth marched alongside senior citizen activists and many victims of martial law. It was a moving sight, multiplied and repeated in many cities and highways in the Philippines and overseas. You will also mark November 30, the birthdate of Andres Bonifacio and the founding of the Kabataang Makabayan/Nationalist Youth as a nation-wide alliance of youth and students starting from hereon.

    You will need to study your history and know it well, otherwise how will you change the world and create a better future? You will need to learn to organize well and these skills, when learned and internalized, will always be with you, wherever you go. You will learn so many things, on top of what you study from school and university. Patience and daringness, kindness and courage, you will keep close to you and which you will teach others as well.

    Be proud of yourselves. Hold your heads high. You have done your parents and your elders proud. And many years from now, you will remember the “high” that you felt working to launch Anakbayan Canada, because it has never left your heart.

    Congratulations to all of you and to the new officers of the Anakbayan Canada: Sarah Salise (AB Toronto) as Secretary General, Renzo Grospe (AB Montreal) and Rhea Gamana (AB Toronto) as Co-Chairs and Zharmaine Ante (AB Montreal) as Finance Officer and to the members of the National Council which will be formed with representatives from the five regions of Canada.

    Sarah Salise, AB Canada Secretary General, told Toronto writer Pet Cleto that “Anakbayan Canada’s founding is very significant because it shows that Filipino youth are ready to serve our communities here in Canada and the Philippines to fight for genuine change and lasting peace for our people.”

    We will march together and work together. Malayo pa ang ating lalakbayin. We still have a long way to go.

    Take care,
    Anakbayan 1940 (this was a joke somebody said and it caught on. There was no Anakbayan in 1940). So let me say — Take care, from your elders.

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