On March 18th, the Filipino Students’ Association of Toronto (FSAT) became the first recipients of the Outstanding Student Organization Award from New College at the University of Toronto.
They were nominated by Co-President Glyn Narca, who wanted to recognize FSAT’s unique initiatives and accomplishments during the 2018-2019 school year. From providing free tutoring for children at St. Margaret’s Catholic School, to organizing a networking event with the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Toronto, to participating in the Pinoys on Parliament conference in Ottawa and more, FSAT has elevated Pinoy pride throughout the university and beyond.
The executive members were thrilled to be the first group to receive this recognition.
“It’s been fourteen years since FSAT started, and I do think that we get better and better because some of our programs take years to develop— particularly our tutoring program, for example,” said Health and Wellness Coordinator Jennifer Thompson. “We’ve hit certain roadblocks, but it’s a program that’s long-established and that’s something that we’re very proud of.”
This year, the committee continued the FSAT tradition of organizing a “Filipino Awareness Week,” but with one change: that it would be renamed “Filipino Appreciation Week.”
“We’ve been having these weeks every year since FSAT started,” said Cultural Events Coordinator Katherine Faith Tan. “We decided we’d rather people see us as a community that’s been here for a long time, who just want to be appreciated for what we can do.”
Along with the traditional kamayan dinner and talent night, Filipino Appreciation Week also included a Filipino martial arts workshop, a Tambayan Art Gallery showcase, and a pyjama party with the Vietnamese Students’ Association.
And while the events were a celebration of Filipino culture, they were also a way to find new members— even those who were not of Filipino descent.
“The way I like to look at it is that we refer to ourselves as a Filipino student association, but it’s not just for Filipinos to associate with Filipinos, it’s for everyone to associate with Filipinos,” said Thompson.
And in addition, every event is an opportunity to find FSAT’s future executive committee members.
“Throughout the year, we always try to encourage Filipinos— or anyone in general, actually— to come to our events, to come see what we’re about, and to encourage them to run for executive positions next year,” said Social Events Coordinator John Patrick Carlos.
For Todd Le Blanc, Assistant Dean for Student Life and Leadership at New College, FSAT’s ability to maintain momentum is why it stands out among other student groups.
“It’s not just the innovation and the community building, but the legacy building,” said Le Blanc. “For the first-year students coming into FSAT, the upper-year students give them responsibilities and they take it and run with it. So there’s a really great pipeline that comes through FSAT that means it’s strong year after year— that’s one of FSAT’s hallmarks for sure.”
With majors ranging from Animal Physiology to Neuroscience to Equity Studies, the twelve-member executive team boasts a range of interests and skills.
“We know how to work together and how to utilize each other’s strengths,” said Co-President Hilary Naluz. “Each event shows that we’re passionate and we’re driven to do this type of work on this land and in this institution.”
“I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished for the Filipino community within the university and also within the Greater Toronto Area,” said Co-President Glyn Narca. “We always knew that we were doing something special, but being recognized for it means so much to all of us.”
This article was originally published in The Philippine Reporter on April 12, 2019.