Prime Minister Justin Trudeau serving food at the 2016 Taste of Manila.(Photo: Justin Trudeau, Facebook)

Toronto, Ontario

‘Largest’  Filipino street festival in North America

By Ysh Cabana

TORONTO (07/24)—The massive Philippine food and culture festival next month is called off because of “unbearable” costs, organizers said in a letter to community stakeholders.

Taste of Manila was cancelled just ahead of what would be its fifth year on August 18 and 19 to close the four lanes on Bathurst and Wilson up to Laurelcrest avenues in the city’s north end. 

Billed as North America’s largest Filipino Festival, the two-day event closes Bathhurst and Wilson Sts. in Toronto’s North York district known as Little Manila.

“City services and basic expenses continued to rise while our income had remained the same,” said the statement signed by the Philippine Cultural Community Centre (PCCC). 

It expained further that the PCCC never received grants and relied on the money from sponsors, vendors, and rent for space at the festival “to survive.”

““It’s quite a loss, I would just say,” said Teresa Torralba, media director of the festival.

According to Torralba, running the the festival value between $200,000-$250,000, which covers for the extra costs for police, waste management and other personnel.

“Our income is not enough to stage another one at this point. With a deficit from last year plus these additional fees, I don’t think we can handle it anymore,” she added.

Toronto Filipino community is more than 250,000 strong and the dedicated street festival is an indicator of the booming demographic in the city. Since the PCCC’s first venture in 2014, Taste of Manila has had more than the expected turnout of festival-goers. Personalities such as the Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau even paid a visit in 2016. But yearly deficit also went along with the growing operational expenses as described in The Philippine Reporter article in 2015.

For now, Torralba said the organizers acknowledge the painful lessons through the years and that bigger goals are set in the offing, including “finding a new permanent home for Taste of Manila.” Details  are yet to be released.

“We’re going to spend this time to regroup. We will invite community members to come in and join us and make this festival a milestone,” said Torralba.