Culture from across the Pacific

Photo courtesy of Museum of Surrey

The Filipino Celebration at the Museum of Surrey pays homage to the rich culture of the Philippines, comprised of both traditional Filipino and Spanish Catholic traditions with American and Asian influences. The event will be held on Sept. 21.

There will be food trucks that will feature popular Filipino dishes, Tagalog and English story-telling with the Surrey Public Libraries, crafts and different performances that will depict our culture and history and Fraser Health will have a booth for vaccination and immunization,” says Joy Sapiera, Settlement Worker at Immigrant Services and Family Support Worker in the Family Resource Program at Options Community Services. “Immigration Services will also have tables for information regarding the different Settlement Programs.”

The Settlement Program provides guidance, support and access to necessary government and community services for new immigrants and refugees settling into different communities in Canada, while the Family Resource Program provides support and resources related to parenting, child development, early literacy and the health and safety of children to families and children in Canada.

Music, traditions, food and bayanihan

Originally from the Philippines, Sapiera is immersed in Filipino culture. She learned the Tinikling, a traditional dance named after the tikling bird and involving bamboo poles, at a young age as one of the requirements for her Physical Education class. The Filipino Celebration will include the unique opportunity to learn this Filipino folk dance.

Sapiera says that for Filipinos, traditions and culture are very significant, especially those in their homes and family. They are very family-orientated, often religious, and appreciative of art, fashion, music and food. For example, they usually set aside specific days for celebrations such as festivals, birthday parties and reunions.

“And of course, every gathering is dedicated to keeping up with each other over scrumptious food,” adds Sapiera. “Filipinos love to party, eat and sing.”

A traditional Filipino dish lumpia, a savoury snack made of thin pastry, will be available for free sampling at the celebration.

According to Sapiera, Filipinos are very hospitable and friendly. Filipino, the national language of the Philippines, is largely based on Tagalog. She says it’s easy for Filipinos to strike up conversations with people, even if some tend to be shyer than others.

“Filipinos help one another without expecting anything in return, so that undertaking their tasks and responsibilities become much easier,” says Sapiera.

This unity is known as bayanihan, which means ‘community spirit.’

Sapiera’s journey to Canada

Joy Sapiera, settlement and family support worker. | Photo courtesy of Joy Sapiera

As an immigrant herself, Sapiera is dedicated to her work. Originally from Taal, Batangas, Philippines, Sapiera moved to Canada in 2006 as a single mother raising her two sons. Although she’s faced her share of challenges along the way, she doesn’t regret immigrating, as she believes her kids can have a more comfortable life here.

Before moving to Canada, Sapiera worked as a licensed Social Worker for 15 years; she was the Chief of the Medical Social Service Department at the Lung Center of the Philippines. However, her first job in Canada was to serve as a Tim Hortons employee. Despite going from supervising staff and signing and approving requests to making coffee orders and running errands, Sapiera didn’t mind and considered her job a ‘survivor job.’ She worked three more of these before deciding to go back to school to get her Social Service Diploma. After doing a practicum at Options Community Services, Sapiera was hired by them and have been with them for ten years now.

Sapiera feels the Filipino Celebration will help spread a culture that is so important to herself and many other members of the Filipino community to people from all over the Greater Vancouver area.

For more information, please visit: