The Filipino community living in Derry has set up a group to celebrate and promote their culture locally.
‘Kabalikat in North West’ was properly constituted as an official non-profit making organisation earlier this year.
Kabalikat is the Filipino word for solidarity and last weekend the group hosted its first social event in the Nerve Centre.
Kabalikat In North West has over 70 members from Derry, Coleraine, Ballykelly and Limavady but chairperson, Jonah Atos, said they would like more.
“There’s been a Filipino community thriving here in the North West for quite a while but after the great typhoon which devastated part of our country last year, we felt the need to come together so that’s essentially how the group came to be founded,” she said.
Jonah has worked as a staff nurse locally for the last 13 years and although she will always regard the Filipino island of Luzon as her home she said she has developed a soft spot for Derry.
“The people here are absolutely amazing and my youngest son was born here. He’s a proper wee Derry man and even speaks with a Derry accent,” she laughed.
Resty Bautista, who is also from Luzon island, has been working as an administrator in Derry for the last eight years.
Resty has lived and worked in other parts of the United Kingdom but said that Derry has been the most welcoming.
“I lived in London for a while and when I would walk down the street there and say hello to people I was passing they would just keep their heads down and walk on - with Derry it’s different. The people here say hello to me first and they are so welcoming - I love it here.”
Jonah explained one of the main reasons the group was set-up was in order to combat a feeling of isolation experienced by some Filipinos living in Derry.
“When we spoke to members of the Filipino community they told us they felt a little bit isolated so we figured if we set up a group that has a social setting to it it would help members of the Filipino community to feel more involved.
“Once we overcome that hurdle we would like to introduce our culture to the wider community.”
Last Friday evening almost 100 members of the local Filipino community packed into the cinema at the Nerve Centre to watch a Filipino movie. Filipino food was served before and after the movie and according to Jonah the event was a great success.
“We have plans for many other events in the next few months but we want to hear from as many people as possible.”
For more information on ‘Kabalikat in North West’ contact Jonah Atos on 07801275450; visit the website: www.kabalikatnw.co.uk or log on to its Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pages/Kabalikat-in-North-West