KALAYAAN CHRONICLE 2016
It started with an association called the Pilipino Bayanihan of Mississauga. The Board of Directors felt the need to commemorate our Philippine Independence and celebrate this with other fellow countrymen. Ruffy Romano was charged with contacting the various associations within the Peel Region where Filipino communities were growing.
On February 28, 1983 Ruffy met with fellow leaders at the Brunswick Ball Playroom, and presented a resolution which was overwhelmingly accepted and carried. The resolution, aiming towards a strong solidarity, was for Filipinos in Peel region to join hands in celebrating our Philippine Independence. Thus Ben Montada, Rufino Casino, Fred Café, Joe Manlapaz, Sol Delusong, Delfin Sanchez and Rod Ticar, representing their associations, became the founding members of Kalayaan and Ruffy Romano became it’s first chairman. Kalayaan became the umbrella organization of Filipino associations in Mississauga and it’s environs.
On August 16, 1995, Kalayaan was registered as a non-profit organization under the name of Kalayaan Filipino Cultural Organization (KFCO) and in 1996, the Constitution was framed and ratified to include the establishment and maintenance of a Filipino Community Centre. This gave birth to the Kalayaan Cultural Community Centre or KCCC. Ontario Letters Patent for KCCC was obtained on December 8, 1997 as a charitable organization. However, this was put on hold because Kalayaan went into high gear for the Centennial Celebration of Philippine Independence which was held at the Skydome (now Rogers Centre in downtown Toronto) on July 11, 1998. It was an unprecedented success with a gathering of sixty-plus Filipino Organizations, and 30,000 attending the celebration.
From this KFCO event a surplus of $120,000 was realized. By a unanimous vote at a community meeting, this amount was set aside to be used as a seed money for a community centre. A year later, KCCC started it’s operation and as provided for in the constitution of KFCO, all proceeds of Kalayaan activities, except for a maximum amount of $3000 would be transferred to KCCC as a donation. KFCO has continued to fulfill it’s primary aim of celebrating Philippine Independence and Culture to this day.
The main cultural events that Kalayaan celebrates are the Kalayaan Gala at the Pearson Convention Centre, the free Kalayaan Picnic at Mississauga Valley Park and the free summer festival “Fiesta Ng Kalayaan” at Mississauga Celebration Square. 2016 marks the first two-day celebration of ‘Fiesta Ng Kalayaan”, a well attended public event.
Although KFCO and KCCC are legally separate entities, they work hand in hand towards helping each other in fulfilling their mandates. Kalayaan is proud that it engineered the way towards providing the Filipino Community with a centre that serves as a venue for the celebration of Philippine History and Culture, as well as a wide spectrum of services and programs that help improve the lifestyle of the community.