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The Philippines is an archipelago of 7083 islands in Southeast Asia. Filipinos belong to the Indo-Malay group that spread out from the southern tip of Asia to settle as far as Polynesia in the South Pacific. The Philippines was a colony of Spain from 1564 to 1898, when it was ceded to the United States following the Spanish-American War. The country was governed as a commonwealth by the Americans until 1941, when it was lost to Japan in the Second World War. It was subsequently liberated by the Allied forces and granted independence on 4 July 1946. However, Filipinos now celebrate Independence Day on 12 June to commemorate the original proclamation of independence from Spain in 1898.

Immigration to Canada

The first people to come to Canada from the Phillippines arrived in 1931. Until the late 20th century, Canada’s Filipino population was small, but since 1991, Filipino immigration to Canada has increased dramatically. The focus on Canada's own labour needs enabled skilled and well-trained Filipinos—the result of compulsory mass public education—to enter Canada in large numbers. Overpopulation and economic and political difficulties in the Philippines caused massive emigration starting in the 1970s. The Philippines has become the third largest source of immigrants in Canada, after China and India.

Filipino Canadians Today

Because of their English proficiency and relatively high education (more than 30% of the Filipinos who come to Canada have at least a bachelor's degree), Filipinos tend to integrate into urban communities and are often actively involved with their communities rather than forming ethnic enclaves. The majority of Filipino Canadians—more than 40%—live in Toronto, and most live in other metropolitan areas including Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton.

There are more than 1000 Filipino associations all over Canada formed along provincial or regional origins, university affiliations or common interests. They participate in community festivals and civic celebrations. The Filipino communities are served by an active ethnic media: newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations. Toronto publishes at least five newspapers; Vancouver has four. Many of the closely knit Filipino families in Canada still adhere to the Asian value of respect for elders, appreciation of education, belief in self-reliance and upholding family honour.

The Roman Catholic Church serves as the centre of much Filipino social interaction outside the home. Religious holidays are celebrated with traditional rites, featuring native songs and dances, special foods and decorations.

Learn more:
Filipinos in The Canadian Encyclopedia
The Filipino Community in Canada