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The directors of the four societies, BCHS, VFCA, VFCCA AND VFCSA, stepped up with pride to open the doors of the Bayanihan Community Centre to welcome the new Philippine Ambassador to Canada, Her Excellency Petronila P. Garcia on June 1, 2015.

Ambassador Garcia visited the centre the day after her courtesy call on Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon.

It is a testament to the increasing prominence of the centre that the Vancouver Consular staff, led by Consul General Neil Ferrer, included a visit to the centre in Ambassador Garcia’s schedule while visiting the west coast.

Anton Mandap, deputy consular general, was also with the Ambassador’s party.

Traditional Filipino hospitality was extended to the visitors with the president of each society - namely Dominga Passmore (BCHS), Agnes Miranda (VFCA), Annette Beech (VFCCA) and Myrna Cubangbang representing Connie Custodio (VFCSA) speaking on behalf of their groups.

Laila Pires acted as emcee for the event. Prospective youth leaders were also invited to impress on them the importance of the centre and the potential good it can contribute to the community. Present were Mike Gonzalez, Elaine Abanto, Gem Ruiz, Anthony Noonan and Sophie Sianen.

Ambassador Garcia spoke to the group about the promising state of affairs in the Philippines and the positive economic outlook and trade agreements between the Philippines and Canada. She praised the spirit of volunteerism that is apparent in the successful running of the Centre. She expressed the hope that Filipinos would continue to embrace and demonstrate this quality as they make Canada their homes. She pointed to the hard work and accomplishments of the first wave of immigrants that paved the way for others that followed.

After the formal part of the evening, attendees had various photo opportunities with Her Excellency. Time did not allow for karaoke singing that Ambassador Garcia and the consular staff enjoy but those who remained enjoyed a night of singing while cleaning up.

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