401. Little Taste of the Philippines



Copyright ©2013 Emmanuel Gallant.

Copyright ©2013 Emmanuel Gallant.

Emmanuel Gallant writes:



To complement Ruth’s post, “395. Filipino, Justin Trudeau, Indian, & Orange Parades 2013”, here are my impressions of the Filipino Festival from a slightly different approach.


“Politics” and “bamboo experience” pretty well sums up my vision of the “Filipinos Making Waves Festival” that occurred on Yonge-Dundas Square mid July.


I arrive there one hour after it starts. As usual, a lot of booths are in the square. And as usual, you can find a little bit of everything, more or less related to the topic: Filipino food, real estate, banks, radio, Philippines Culture of Ontario, politics, and a few “bamboo businesses.” Apparently bamboo is a Filipino product.


At first, three young ladies are on the stage, singing some American songs. Even though they have pretty voices, I simply do not catch the link with the event. Why American songs? No worries, maybe I just arrived a bit ahead of time…


Copyright ©2013 Emmanuel Gallant

Copyright ©2013 Emmanuel Gallant


As I keep walking around the square, I hear people yelling behind me. What’s happening? Justin Trudeau is there, posing with people and smiling. He is answering the questions of the press. He is wearing an enticing white barong tagalog. It is a very nice one. I should admit that I feel a bit jealous. So, despite the crowd which is growing thicker around him, I decide to ask him where I can get one for me.


I spend ten minutes struggling to find a loophole through the security guards and the middle-aged women groupies. I finally succeed in reaching him. He gives me enough time to get my own shot with him and to get my name (one of the 500 of the day he will have to remember). It is not enough time to get an answer to my question: “Where can I get a shirt like that”?


Never mind. As the throng disappears, I choose to turn my attention to what seems to be the main center of interest of the festival–bamboo. Apparently, bamboo is very famous in the Philippines. You can do a lot of things with it. According to Ed Johnson, CEO of Bambootilitymedia, bamboo is a “whole experience”. Ed has created an online platform so that people can learn about all the possible uses of bamboo. From iphone protectors to sunglasses, it encompasses a large range of products. Today, Ed is representing a company specializing in bamboo deodorizers.


Ed Johnson. Copyright ©2013 Emmanuel Gallant.



Does it work well?”


Sure, you can put it in the fridge, on a shoe rack, and in other things.”


I find the concept interesting and I buy two packages. It is always good to test something new, especially an organic way of kicking bad smells out. Time will tell if I made the right choice.


Besides deodorizers, there is something else I want to test. Apparently, I am not the first one to think about it. I join all the people waiting for the sale of “Bamboo Beer”. Joe Olivier, the Minister of Natural Resources of Canada is the fastest. He seems to be enjoying it. I think, if politicians like it, it must be good. I have to wait for the end of the business presentation to get mine.


Light and a bit bitter, the beer has an aftertaste that I don’t recognize. Kirk Harasym, the CEO of the company, explains with a large grin that the manufacturing process consists of extracting the bamboo right from the leaves. Although it’s not the best beer I have ever tasted, the result isn’t bad. But then, I’ve been living next to Belgium and am quite picky about my beer. It is quite refreshing under the heavy sun.


Kirk Harasym. Copyright ©2013 Emmanuel Gallant

Kirk Harasym. Copyright ©2013 Emmanuel Gallant


One stupid thing I hadn’t anticipated. You cannot take alcohol outside of a bar at a festival. I find myself stuck in the enclosed stand, my beer in my hand. The only way to get out is to get rid of it. At least, from where I stand I can watch the Karate performance followed by the Filipina dances, performed by women dressed with red-yellow tunics and tropical green flowers as belts and on their heads.


A few dances later, they are now waving to the public with their famous “aloha” before disappearing from the stage, leaving me in the enclosure, a fresh taste of bamboo in the mouth.


As for the barong tagalog, I learned later that they come right from the Philippines. But we are in Toronto, the city of multiculturalism, right? So if any of you knows where I can get one here, please feel free to share!

Note: we are happy to share your helpful adventures too in Multicultural Toronto events.  Please email: ruthlormalloy@gmail.com.


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