By: Tony A. San Juan, OCT.

Faith. Family. Formation.

Three interwoven and significant tenets that make up the guiding light which spells challenge and propels action. With a strong faith in Divine guidance, and believing in the beauty of the human spirit, a group of Filipino Canadian Catholic parents and teachers in Toronto gathered and collectively formed a vehicle in order to help contribute and transform their common ideals and aspirations into a purposeful  undertaking for their children to achieve student success in Catholic secondary and elementary schools. Thus, the Filipino Canadian Parents in Catholic Education (FCPACE) was conceived in the GTA milieu.

FCPACE was formally organized on November 6, 2013 with twelve parents in initial attendance, and Tony San Juan as convener at Blessed Mother Teresa Secondary School in Scarborough, Ontario. For its Nature, the organization is operating as a non- profit, non- political community of Filipino Canadian parents, guardians, teachers and other Catholic stakeholders it seeks “to have a voice and representation within the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB)”. It aims also “to participate in an advisory role, on matters of faith, moral values, & student achievement as well as in those that affect Filipino Canadian students in respect of Catholic education, heritage and culture”.

To articulate its presence and participation, FCPACE  has a  collective Vision of becoming a “leading and unified voice representing and advocating Catholic education  for responsible & continued formation and preservation of authentic Catholic faith among Filipino Canadian students, parents, families and communities within the Catholic education system and Canadian society in general “.

In support of its Vision and Nature , the Association desires and expects its Mission to : 1)” help maintain and increase enrollment in Catholic schools by advocating for the excellence of Catholic education, 2) collaborate with TCDSB on its Multi-Year Strategic Plan in alignment with Filipino Catholic values, 3) Work with the TCDSB and other parent organizations to help strengthen public confidence in Catholic education through collective responsibility of maintaining authentic Catholicity, 4)  Work in partnership and collaboration with Filipino and other ethnic organizations in increasing the number of faithful and practicing Catholic administrators, teachers and staff in the TCDSB, 5) Engage with and provide input to other Working and Special Committees of TCDSB, and 6) Promote Filipino heritage, culture and arts within the Toronto Catholic education environment and the general community”.

Comprising the 2013-2015 Executive Board are founding members : Francisco Galema, chair; Marla Tanuan, vice-chair, Ruth Oliveros, secretary, Randy Bucao, treasurer and Ben Corpuz, Paulina Corpuz, Eugene Guiyab, Jeng Guiab, Gina Lim, Manuel Lim, Jocelyn San Juan & Tony A. San Juan as directors, with TCDSB Ward 8 Trustee Garry Tanuan  and community relations officer Jodelyn Huang who served as special advisers. Other notable Filipino Canadian leaders who joined in were: Joey Abrenilla, Myrna Alforte, Rose Apilado, Francis & Therese Baduria, Claire & Ronnie De la Gana, Cielito Drapeza, Dario & Maria Guiao, Perly Laganas, Christine & Joseph Manrique, Jeffrey Oliveros, Joel Pine and Lorelei & Joseph Redoblado and Michele Serrano.

Proudly, the FCPACE leadership in solid representation and collaboration with TCDSB senior officers worked towards the creation of a Filipino Advisory Committee (FAC) by the Board of Trustees on October 9, 2014 with solid support and representation by Trustees Angela Kennedy and Garry Tanuan.  FAC, with its Terms of Reference, is composed of Joey Abrenilla, Francisco Galema, Carole Martin, Mary Ann San Juan, Tony A.San Juan and Kaylene Tolentino. Sitting in the 13- person Advisory Committee are: 2 school trustees, the Associate Director of Academic Affairs, three school superintendents and 1 community relations officer.

One of FCPACE’s big events last year was the holding of the historic First Annual Conference of Catholic Parents, Students and Teachers on April 25, 2015 at the Catholic Education Centre, TCDSB. With its theme : “Meeting the Challenges of Filipino Canadian Catholic Students and Parents”, the one-day event conducted group workshops on the identification and discussion of  concerns and challenges impacting students and parents in areas of parent involvement, student performance, curriculum- related issues, adjustment to teaching- learning practices & academic requirements .The conference engaged more than 150 participants including notable speakers and guests from the Catholic community in the Greater Toronto Area. The maiden conference was generously supported by numerous individual donors, businesses and organizations.

On track, FCPACE is holding a “Second Annual Parents, Teachers and Students Conference on Parent Engagement” in April 2016. Also, in planning stage, is the establishment and operation of a long-term, multi-pronged general program which would offer Sustainable Services and Special Projects that will address continuing challenges and specific issues in Catholic education and faith formation within the Filipino Canadian Catholic community.

Membership to FCPACE is open to all who believe and support Catholic education and Catholic schools. To become a member, one has to apply by completing a membership form and paying a modest registration & annual fee. Interested individuals are requested to contact: Marla Tanuan at: mtanuan@yahoo.com, Tel.416-209-8659 or Ruth Oliveros at rutholiveros@sympatico.ca , Tel. 416-282-7282.( T. San Juan).

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Editor’s Note:

Tony A. San Juan, with Bachelor’s & Master’s degrees and PhD studies, is a former professor of education in the Philippines and Nigeria and a retired Ontario certified educator. He is a recognized community leader & organizer, public relations guy and member of several Filipino Canadian professionals, civic and community organizations.

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