THE BAYANIHAN CENTRE: A DREAM FULFILLED
Since the Victoria Filipino-Canadian Association was formed in 1969, members dreamed of one day having a community centre. It seemed like an impossible dream since at the time there was only a small number of Canadians of Filipino ancestry in the Capital Region.
Fast forward to 1987: The VFCA helped to establish, under its auspices, the International Childcare and Domestic Services Association of Victoria, forerunner to the Victoria Filipino-Canadian Caregivers Association, to focus on the needs of childcare and domestic workers.
1988: The Victoria Filipino-Canadian Golden Age Association, forerunner to the Victoria Filipino Canadian Seniors’ Association, was formed, again under VFCA’s auspices, to focus on the needs of seniors of Filipino-Canadian ancestry.
In May 1988 Nor Gonzales, VFCA president noted in the ILAW that "Our future mandate continues to be to purchase land so that we can someday build a Community Centre for VFCA."
1990: Nina Law, VFCA president that year, established a committee to initiate this long-term project and on December 8 VFCA members approved a resolution to "put up a Filipino Cultural and Housing Centre in Victoria." Fundraising began on a long range basis.
1991: On February 16, VFCA officers applied for the incorporation of the Bayanihan Cultural and Housing Society so it could focus on building a cultural and housing centre. Signatories were Fely Arevalo, Fred Bartulabac, Linda Bartulabac, Sid Emmanuel, Nor Gonzales, Nina Law, Ben Pires, Laila Pires, Delfin Pojol, Connie Rafael, Etna Stackhouse and Ralph White. Connie Custodio witnessed. On April 12, the Bayanihan Cultural and Housing Society was incorporated under the Society Act.
1998: In May, with $80,700 in the bank as a down payment, BCHS submitted a bid of $300,000 to the District of Saanich to buy property at the corner of West Saanich Road and Royal Oak Drive. BCHS officers met with the Royal Oak Community Association who supported the plan and suggested our centre would be a welcome addition to the community. There were five bids for the property but and all were rejected as too low.
But for every cloud there is a silver lining.
2001: On February 9, BCHS learned about a provincial grant program for community projects, announced Feb. 5, and about a building for sale at 1709 Blanshard St. It took only 77 days to reach the final goal of acquiring a building for the Bayanihan Community Centre. On February 13, 2001, BHCS decided to "go for it," after more than a decade of fund-raising.
On April 30, 2001, BCHS became the registered owner of a building. The Bayanihan Community Centre was officially opened on November 3, 2001, after extensive renovation work.
Five years later, on January 2, 2007 the Bayanihan Cultural and Housing Society, Victoria Filipino Canadian Association, Victoria Filipino-Canadian Caregivers Association, and the Victoria Filipino-Canadian Seniors' Association achieved a monumental milestone when, as a result of the combined efforts of all members of the community, the Bayanihan Community Centre became mortgage free!
The centre is a dream fulfilled, after years of hope, determination, and hard work!