Local MP Blake Richards has saluted the contributions of three members of Cochrane's Filipino community, who proudly accepted the recognition on behalf of their entire community.

Following the Rizal Day ceremonies in Airdrie on Dec. 30,  Richards presented certificates to Michael and Monica Bautista and Edwin Aguanta. All three are highly active in the Filipino Canadian Association of Cochrane Alberta (FCACA).

FCACA president Michael Bautista runs the Sunday Hoops basketball program and brings the community together through basketball, the most popular sport in the Philippines. He was one of the founders of the Cochrane Ballers 10 years ago which paved the way for what has become an early Sunday morning ritual at the SLS Centre that has grown substantially over the years.

FCACA vice chair Monica Bautista spearheads many social gatherings and fundraisers and helps many navigate government services and employment and housing opportunities.

FCACA vice-president Edwin Aguanta coordinates and emcees the association’s many events that bring joy to many. He takes pride in sharing the Philippine heritage with younger generations and the entire Cochrane community.

All three were surprised by the recognition, but proud that the hard work of the FCACA was being acknowledged.

"It was a very special day for the Filipino community," says FCACA president Bautista. "These certificates are not only for us, for myself, for Monica, for Edwin, but it's for the whole community. We were proud to accept them on behalf of the entire Filipino community."

Cochrane's Filipino community has grown to about 1,500 people. The association's many volunteers help orientate newcomers. They organize social events and cultural activities involving the entire family. FCACA also emphasizes physical fitness by offering sporting and recreational activities for youth and adults.

The organization was formalized two years ago but has been active in the community for the last decade.

Also recognized were: Jun Martin, president of the Filipino Airdrie Association (FAA); William Sotto, a founder of the FAA, leads community basketball games and oversees the FAA administration; and Jyn San Miguel, who is actively involved in numerous community-oriented organizations in the Bow Valley, and has been nationally nominated as Pinoy of the Year for his tremendous community service.

Rizal Day is a Philippine national holiday commemorating the life and work of Dr. José Rizal and his contributions to Philippine independence.

Richards said it was the ideal time to ideal time "to honour the outstanding contributions of Filipino-Canadians across our riding and nationwide, who embody the spirit of service to others.”

During the presentation, MP Richards said the recipients’ contributions reflect and champion the values of José Rizal, whose teachings stressed “the pursuit of education, justice, and unity of community.”

“We pay tribute to some of these remarkable individuals in our community and acknowledge their demonstrated history of community service,” he said.

Rizal Day is a Philippine national holiday commemorating the life and works of José Rizal, a national hero of the Philippines. It is celebrated every December 30, the anniversary of Rizal's 1896 execution at Bagumbayan (present-day Rizal Park) in Manila.

An ophthalmologist by profession, Rizal became a writer and a key member of a Filipino movement that advocated political reforms for the colony under Spain. He was executed after the Philippine revolution broke out.

certificates(photo submitted)

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