Filipino Canadians

The Philippines is an archipelago of 7083 islands in Southeast Asia with a population of about 92 million occupying 300 000 km2, more than 80% of whom are Roman Catholic. Filipinos belong to the Indo-Malay group that spread out from the southern tip of Asia to settle as far as Polynesia in the South Pacific. The Philippines was a colony of Spain from 1564 to 1898, when it was ceded to the United States following the SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR. The country was governed as a commonwealth by the Americans until 1941, when it was lost to Japan in the Second World War. It was subsequently liberated by the Allied forces and granted independence on 4 July 1946. However, Filipinos now celebrate Independence Day on 12 June to commemorate the original proclamation of independence from Spain in 1898.

Immigration to Canada

Filipinos were first reported as a separate listing in Canadian immigration statistics in 1965 when 1467 entered Canada, nearly twice the number admitted in the previous 2 decades. The focus on Canada's own labour needs emphasized in the federal IMMIGRATION POLICY enabled the skilled and well-trained Filipinos - the result of compulsory mass public education - to enter Canada in large numbers. Overpopulation and economic and political difficulties (especially during the more than 2 decades of martial law) caused massive emigration starting in the 1970s. By 1995 more than 220 000 Filipinos entered Canada as landed immigrants seeking better economic opportunities for their families. Filipino immigrants tend to be 20 to 34 years, female, Roman Catholic, relatively well educated and proficient in English. In 1992 the Philippines ranked 2nd among the top 10-country sources of Canadian immigrants. The 2001 census reported a total of 327 550 Filipinos in Canada (single and multiple response).

A 1972 Canada-wide survey of Canadian Filipinos revealed that some 85% of immigrants held at least a bachelor's degree. Their intended occupations were in health, manufacturing, sales, teaching and service categories. Subsequent migrants tended to be parents and dependent minors coming under the family reunification program. Under Canada's shifting immigration focus, the Live-in Caregiver Program absorbed more than 30 000 Filipinos between 1982 and 1991. Since 1992 the Filipinos have consistently ranked first among the independent immigrants category, a group selected based on skills and capacity to contribute quickly to Canadian society and economy.

Social and Cultural Life

The 2006 census reported a total of 436 190 Filipinos in Canada (single and multiple response). More than 50% of all Filipino immigrants have settled in Ontario (215 750) and most have settled in metropolitan areas (more than 50% of Ontario's Filipino immigrants live in Metro Toronto). Large numbers also live in Vancouver (83 765), Winnipeg (38 275), Montréal (24 900), Calgary (26 685) and Edmonton (21 155).

Tagalog, which became known as Pilipino (Filipino), is the national language of the Philippines. In Canada, 235 615 people report Tagalog (Pilipino) as their mother tongue (first language learned). Because of their English proficiency and relatively high education, Filipinos tend to integrate into urban communities and are often actively involved with their communities rather than forming ethnic enclaves. There are more than 1000 Filipino associations all over Canada formed along provincial or regional origins, university affiliations or common interests. They participate in community festivals and civic celebrations. The Filipino communities are served by an active ethnic media - newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations. Toronto publishes at least 5 newspapers; Vancouver has 4. Many of the closely knit Filipino families in Canada still adhere to the Asian value of respect for elders, appreciation of education, belief in self-reliance and upholding family honour.

The Roman Catholic Church serves as the centre of much Filipino social interaction outside the home. Religious holidays are celebrated with traditional rites, featuring native songs and dances, special foods and decorations.