Name: Patrick Alcedo
Place of Birth: Roxas City, Capiz
Elementary School: Kalibo Pilot Elementary School
High School: Aklan Catholic College
1. Could you please describe how you came to be in Canada?
In 2007, I applied to be an Assistant Professor in dance ethnography at York University. When I was offered the job, I emigrated from the United States, where I was finishing my residency as a Rockefeller Humanities Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
2. Describe your experience of growing up, living, and/or working in Canada?
In the beginning, living in Canada was quite difficult. Due to the fact that I had to finish my commitment at the Smithsonian, I started my professorship in January of 2008, and not in September 2007, when the fall term began. That was a time when a major winter storm hit the entire Greater Toronto Area. Before moving to Canada, I had not lived in a country that had winter, let alone in one that at times can have a winter storm!
I was born and raised in the Philippines, which is a tropical country. I lived in the United States from 1996 to 2006 to study for my Ph.D. in Dance History and Theory and, immediately after, pursued a postdoctoral fellowship in Southeast Asian Studies, both at the University of California, Riverside. Coming first from the Philippines, then to Southern California (both places that do not have a winter season) made coping with Canada’s winter challenging at the start.
For the past few years, however, I have learned to enjoy winter. In fact, I am now looking forward to it. I love dressing up in layers, which allows me to be creative. As a dancer and dance anthropologist, I find it interesting how an ordinary movement, such as walking, has to be altered when the road is covered in ice and snow. I have to be light on my feet and to find balance in order for me to not slip and slide. No wonder I have become an avid fan of the Canadian figure skater Patrick Chan. When he dances, he turns the ice into his best friend: not a hindrance but rather an asset to his winning performances.
In terms of my experience of working in Canada, I felt I belonged at York University from the get go. This university has always made me feel welcomed. I will never forget how in my first days of teaching, students would come up to me to say how much they enjoyed my Philippine dance classes, my lectures, and our class discussions. Whenever students would encounter difficulties in their studio work, studies, or even everyday lives, I would right away reach out to them. We would meet outside class and problem-solve together. When a solution was reached, empowering the student once again, I would be overcome with happiness.
The professional support I have received from my York University has been generous. York has consistently provided assistance in honing my teaching skills and in enriching my research and community projects. In the same vein that I find teaching exhilarating, I too am in my element when I work outside York to conduct fieldwork, to produce and direct documentary films, and to collaborate with fellow Filipinos, educators, and artists. Since I am a full-time professor, I am given the opportunity to be off from teaching during summer to pursue these exciting activities.
3. What are some of your major accomplishments? What were/are some of your major struggles?
I consider the following to be some of my major accomplishments:
- receiving my tenure as an Associate Professor at York University;
- being awarded Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Grant, a 3-year grant that allowed me to shoot a documentary film on lives of Filipino caregivers in Toronto;
- winning the highly competitive Early Researcher Award of the Government of Ontario, a 5-year grant in support of my training future research leaders and research on Philippine dance practices in the province of Ontario and the Philippines;
- being awarded with a teaching award twice (junior and senior categories) for excellence in teaching at the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design;
winning the Selma Jeanne Cohen Award for International Dance Scholarship from the Fulbright Association of America;
- receiving a scholarship from the Asian Cultural Council through its Ford Foundation Grant for my doctoral studies; and
- winning the 2017 Golden Balangay Award for Pinoy of the Year.
Even though immigrating to Canada by myself did not scare me, I suffered from pangs of loneliness in the beginning. Unlike most Filipino immigrants, I did not have any family member in Toronto, even in Canada. My parents were in Kalibo, Aklan (my hometown in the central Philippines), my two brothers were in Manila, my other brother was in Los Angeles, California, my sister was in Australia, and my partner was also in Manila.
Thanks to Canada’s spousal sponsorship program, I was able to petition for my partner to immigrate to Canada. I will never forget that day in May of 2013 when he arrived at the Toronto Pearson International Airport as a landed immigrant. That was one of the happiest moments of my life.
Inspired by Canada’s immigration policies, my brother, who lives in Los Angeles, is now seriously considering moving to Toronto for good as well. My dream is to bring all of my loved ones to Toronto—for us to build our lives together in Canada, a country that my partner and I now consider home.
4. What are some of future goals that you envision for yourself and for the Filipino community in Canada?
Regarding my goals as an immigrant, I am hoping that my status will soon change from a permanent resident to Canadian citizen. I hope that this change will happen to my partner as well, so we can both enjoy the full benefits and privileges of being Canadians. Moreover, I dream of owning a bigger house someday. This would allow me to help members of my family, and those of my partner’s, begin their immigrant lives if they decide to move to Canada someday.
As to my future goals as an academic, one that is also a practicing artist, I hope that in the next few years I will be promoted as a Full Professor in Dance. Thus, even though, I already have numerous print publications and artistic and film outputs to my name, I am currently working on a single-authored book. In addition, I am about to apply for another research grant, which if successful will allow me to conduct an international conference and workshop on Philippine folk dance and its musical traditions. The book and hopefully my receipt of this grant will strengthen my application towards full professorship.
Finally, as to my goals for the Filipino community in Canada, I dream that it will continue to prosper in terms of the roles Filipinos will play in various industries and professions. While we, Filipinos, are proud of our immense contributions to Canada’s caregiving industry, I hope that we also will become major movers and shakers in other fields, such as business, media, law, governance, research, education, and the arts.