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Pinoys on Parliament provides a network of opportunities for Filipino-Canadian youth

By Julieanne Acosta, January 16 2022

Filipino-Canadian organization, Pinoys on Parliament (POP), offers a network for Filipino-Canadian youths to learn about a variety of subjects such as politics, business, arts and STEM. 

POP was formed by the members of the Filipino Students Association at the University of Ottawa and has since hosted annual leadership conferences for Filipino-Canadian youths. 

“[Members] reflected on how FIlipino/a/x-Canadians are underrepresented in the Canadian Federal Government, and politics in general,” their website read. “There should be a space where Filipino/a/x-Canadians are able to network, and learn from leaders in the fields that they would want to succeed.” 

POP was founded in 2018 and hosted their first national youth leadership conference the following year in February of 2019. 

“Over 100 Filipino/a/x-Canadian youth across Canada gathered in the nation’s capital. Delegates had the opportunity to listen to prominent Filipino/a/x-Canadian leaders, including the first Filipino-Canadian Member of Parliament Dr. Rey Pagtakhan, the first Filipina-Canadian Assistant Deputy Minister Amelita Armit, co-host of CP24 Breakfast and The Social’s Melissa Grelo and YouTube personality Elle Mills,” read their website. 

In 2020, POP’s conference theme was Magkasama, a Tagalog word for togetherness. The year 2021 welcomed the theme Bayanihan meaning communal unity. Lastly, the 2022 theme Pagitan can be translated to the spaces in between. 

This year, the fifth annual theme is Balikbayan — the Tagalog word describes the journey of Filipino individuals returning home to the Philippines after living overseas — usually for work. The conference is free to attend for those aged 17 to 30 and will be held from Feb. 24 to 26 in Ottawa, Ontario. This year’s conference has 200 spaces available that are allocated from each province and territory to ensure an equal opportunity to attend.

In a press release sent to the Gauntlet, POP provided further information of what attendees can expect from this year’s conference. 

“This year’s keynote speaker is the award-winning Filipina-Canadian presenter and co-host of CBC’s The Great Canadian Baking Show, Ann Polner,” read the press release. “After having been a virtual conference for two years, our return to an in-person event has allowed us to celebrate the diasporic experience of those attending. [Attendees] will be empowered by prominent Filipino-Canadian leaders from many field in STEM, politics, online content creation, sports and community organizing — to name a few.” 

In addition to the speakers, POP will host a community symposium where Filipino vendors across Canada can sell their products and a gala night where a sit-down dinner will be provided by the Philippine Embassy. 

Regardless of the conference being free to attend, many are faced with barriers when it comes to travelling to Ottawa. To aid with this, POP is currently reaching out to various modes of transport and businesses to arrange discount codes for attendees. Moreover, they encourage students to ask what funding opportunities are available for them attending conferences. 

In 2021, the founders of POP founded another organization — a not-for-profit named Kabangka, which can be translated from Tagalog as a term that means being on the same boat as another. 

“Kabangka is borrowed from a poem by Rachel Evangeline Chiong,” read their website. “The poem illustrates Filipinxs wading on a boat, one as a people, floating through their history and heading towards their futures. This spirit of oneness is one that Kabangka wants to instill in everything it does.” 

The organization is founded on elements such as youth empowerment, good governance, partnership, equity and diversity. Kabangka serves Filipino-Canadian youths all across Canada and allows for opportunities for these youth to lead conversation and take action on issues that are important to them. 

To learn more about Kabangka, visit their website kabangka.org. For more information on the organization Pinoys on Parliament and to register for their conference, visit pinoysonparliament.com. To get involved with Pinoys on Parliament, sign up for their email list on their website.

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