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100 years of UP
UPAA Toronto was launched in the summer of 1977. The Association elected its first Board of Directors which in turn elected an Executive Council in accordance with the Constitution and, almost immediately, plunged into its first cultural project.
Halinhinan, an evening of Philippine Dance, Music and Fashion was presented at the Ontario Science Centre. This was followed by the Induction Ball of the first officers at the Inn on the Park, the first Christmas party, and the first annual Picnic. By the next summer, the Association had successfully staged another major cultural event, Walang Sugat, at the Ryerson Theatre. With a stellar cast of Filipino artists led by Fides Santos-Cuyugan, this Manila-produced zarzuela was a cultural eye-opener not only for their Canadian guests but also for many Filipinos who were not acquainted with this genre.
To recognize excellence and to inspire its members, the UPAA has instituted the Most Outstanding UPAA Member and Most Outstanding UP Graduate Awards. In doing so, it honours exceptional alumni for their remarkable achievements. Since its inception, the UPAA has strengthened its ties with the University of the Philippines and keeps its members informed on issues of mutual concern. UP Presidents Edgardo Angara, Jose Abueva, and Emil G. Javier have been guest speakers at the annual homecomings in Toronto. In support of our Alma Mater, the UPAA established a Scholarship Fund and Professorial Chair, both of which are permanent endowments.
In 2002, UPAA Toronto celebrated its 25th (silver) anniversary. As it prepares to commemorate its 30th year, it can look back with pride to achievements of the last five years. Under the leadership of Bayani Bernabe, a new and major Endowment Fund has been established. A total of $25,000 was raised in two years in an intense campaign led by 2002 Outstanding UPAA members, Dr. Mario de Villa and Dr. Victoria Santiago.
During this time, UPAA Toronto partnered with York University to organize a discussion-forum on "The Philippine Presidency and the Erap Debacle," as well as a research project on Filipino Transnationalism. UPAA Toronto and four other alumni associations founded "Summerfest," an annual picnic aimed at fostering closer ties among graduates of Philippine colleges and universities in the Greater Toronto Area. Likewise, the UPAA collaborated with the Filipino Center, Toronto to create the Heritage Library.
To support its membership drive, UPAA Toronto re-established and strengthened the e-mail group in 2003 and redesigned the Web site in 2004. It revived the Annual General Meeting in 2005 which boasted an unprecedented attendance of almost 200 UPians. The resurgence of interest has spawned two successful projects, the monthly morning social, Kapihan, and a Mentoring Program for new immigrant alumni.
UPAA Toronto now has a wide-ranging membership. It continues with its annual dances and picnics and other much-anticipated socials in its calendar. It quietly goes about its business, making itself relevant to the Filipino and Canadian communities. It is committed to raising funds to support our Alma Mater’s grants and scholarship programs. Through the years, it has weathered many rifts and dissensions (as befits alumni who are free and independent thinkers), but it continues to grow and to be engaged.
In 2008, we proudly and joyfully celebrated the University of the Philippines’ centennial year. Looking back, we are grateful for the intellectual skills and cultural and social values that were instilled in us as students – these have certainly prepared us well for living. Today, as the UP continues to train and educate its students to be productive and meaningful members of society in an increasingly competitive global environment, we, ardent UPians all, pledge to do all we can to help our Alma Mater achieve its goals and share the torch that we have always tried to hold high.
The initial burst of energy has not dissipated. It has worked itself into various other endeavours in keeping with the objectives of the Association. It is this bonding that inspires the members to engage in cultural and civic affairs, and to promote the interests of Filipinos in their community. The many social gatherings that bring the members together also provide the opportunity for professional and business networking. The UPAA participates actively in social and community issues, from gathering and sending relief clothing to disaster victims in the Philippines to the Scarborough Town Centre protest against racism. Push on, UP!