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Toronto, 22 December 2021 – Philippine Consul General Orontes V. Castro joined today Canada’s Member of Parliament Honourable Salma Zahid (Scarborough Centre), Member of Parliament Honurable Ya’ara Saks (York Centre), and Toronto City Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 6 York Centre) in expressing full support and in promoting Filipino-owned businesses in the Bathurst area of the City of Toronto, which is the site of the yearly “Taste of Manila” festivities during the summer season. The Bathurst area is also known as “Little Manila” due to the presence of Filipino-owned businesses (SMEs) such as restaurants, remittance companies, barbershops, karaoke bars, and other small businesses.
The Harina Bakeshoppe (owned by Filipino Canadian business partners Danilo Hernandez and Jen dela Cruz) has been chosen by Councillor Pasternak and the organizers of the “Taste of Manila” to launch the councillor’s “Business Improvement Area” (BIA) in Wilson Avenue that includes the Bathurst area. The Wilson Village BIA has been working on a Masterplan for Wilson Avenue with a community consultation to showcase the capital improvements scheduled for implementation over the next several years. Designated areas along the Wilson corridor will feature sitting areas with new street furniture, lighting and artwork to improve the overall look of the area and boost development and investment.
In brief remarks, Consul General Castro commended the Filipino Canadian business owners of Harina Bakeshoppe and other businesses in the Bathurst area for their effort to continue their business venture despite the on-going pandemic. He underscored the significance of the entrepreneurship spirit of those behind the bread store and that it will surely become a role model for the growing population of Filipinos in the Province of Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area in particular, to also start their own businesses. MPs Zahid and Saks, and Councilor Pasternak likewise lauded the business owners of Harina Bakeshoppe and other Filipino-owned businesses for their effort to continue their business operation despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic. - END
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16 December 2021, Toronto – Philippine Consul General Orontes V. Castro called on today with The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor and Vice-Regal Representative of Queen Elizabeth II in the Province of Ontario at the latter’s office at the Ontario Legislative Building in Queen’s Park, Toronto. Consul General Castro was accompanied by Consular Assistant Marilyn V. Galanza.
Consul General Castro expressed gratitude for the good treatment given to the Filipinos in the Province of Ontario, as well as conveyed the Holiday greetings from the Filipino community and the Philippine Consulate General. He highlighted the recent approval of Bill 217 proclaiming the month of June every year as “Filipino Heritage Month” in the Province of Ontario. The Act was given Royal Assent and became effective on 20 May 2021. There is a significant presence of the Filipino community in Ontario, which continues to be among the primary destinations of Filipino workers, students and other migrants in Canada.
Consul General Castro conveyed to the Lieutenant Governor that the Philippine Consulate General is working to strengthen bilateral relations with the Province of Ontario, especially in trade, film development and production cooperation, and the continuing investment activities of Filipino-owned businesses in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
The Lieutenant Governor acknowledged the positive values and significant contributions of Filipinos in Canada and conveyed that the provincial government of Ontario looks forward to expanding bilateral relations with the Philippines. She expressed interest in strengthening further the cultural relations between Ontario and the Philippines.
In recognition of the Lieutenant Governor’s invaluable support to the Filipino community and the Philippine Consulate General, Consul General Castro presented the Lieutenant Governor with a Quincentennial Award. The award was particularly in recognition of the Lieutenant Governor’s full support for the approval of the Act on “Filipino Heritage Month” celebration in Ontario. The Lieutenant Governor expressed appreciation for the award. - END
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06 December 2021, Toronto, Ontario - The Philippine Consulate General in Toronto conducted an online Information Session on Violence Against Women for its personnel and those of the attached agencies. The webinar, which is in line with the 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW), was organized in cooperation with the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic (BSCC).
Ms. Maricela Lozano and Ms. Marybeth Durante, Manager and Languages Coordinator, respectively of the BSCC, discussed the different types of abuse (cultural/identity, financial/economic, mental/psychological, verbal/emotional, sexual, and physical); the signs and myths of abuse; the situation of victims of abuse; and the support that BSCC provides to victims of abuse.
Notably, Ms. Durante emphasized that alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, there exists a “shadow pandemic” of violence against women, the prevalence and harmful effects of which are far less visible and efforts to address it are under-resourced. She noted that during the first few months since the COVID-19 pandemic started, there has been a 20-30% increase in rates of gender-based violence and domestic violence in some regions of Canada; and a 400% increase in calls for help in a shelter in the Greater Toronto Area.
A Q&A followed the VAW presentation, which was well-received by the officers and staff of the Consulate General and the personnel of the attached Philippine government agencies (POLO and Trade Office Section). Consul General Orontes V. Castro presented Misses Lozano and Durante with Certificates of Appreciation to express the Consulate General’s gratitude for conducting the online information session.
During the flag raising ceremony in the morning of the same day, Consul General Castro gave brief talk to the consular client of Post regarding the 18-day campaign against VAW. Ms. Ivy Evasco, one of the women clients, led the reading of the VAW prayer. - END
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