Words & photos :: Leonard Maglalang.
Nearly 3,000 individuals that permanently settled in Canada between 2011 and 2016 did so in the mountain towns of the Rockies. Eight-hundred and fifteen Filipinos came to call the Rockies home and Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines, has become one of the most commonly spoken languages in Banff (behind only English and Japanese). Leonard Maglalang arrived in Calgary with his family in 2014, from the Filipino city of San Pedro, exchanging beaches and humidity for mountains and snow. –ML
Most Filipinos left the Philippines with their families—both immediate and extended—seeking the Canadian standards of access to health care, free education and respect for civil liberties, in hopes their children’s quality of life would surpass their own.
The first time seeing the Canadian Rockies was an incredible feeling, and I wondered early on what it would feel like to stand on top of a peak. But with the costs of providing day-to-day support to family back in the Philippines, the idea of spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on mountaineering gear is a distant dream for many of us.
Filipino-Canadian Levi Ramos, the founder and chairman of K8 Mountaineering Club of Alberta, can empathize. Ramos immigrated to Canada in 2014 when he was 30. That same year, he hiked Banff’s popular Tunnel Mountain trail with his friend Archer Tinambacan and the idea to form the K8 club was born.
“We saw a gap between Filipino immigrant mountaineers and the Canadian climbing community concerning the skills, knowledge, experience, and equipment needed to perform climbing safely and comfortably,” says Ramos. “We envisioned filling that gap so Filipino immigrants can continue their passion for climbing and achieve their dream to climb the Canadian Rockies.”
K8 Mountaineering Club of Alberta is now a non-profit organization and second home to many Filipino-Canadian mountaineers. The club organizes hikes, scrambles and climbing (sport, alpine and ice) for its 40 members and goes beyond that to provide camaraderie, kinship, and community. The club’s vision is to help its members access the mountains and become self-reliant in their pursuits. It is a support system for Filipinos wrestling with the emotional and psychological toll of resettling through the healing power of the mountains.
Hailing from such a distinctly different landscape, Filipino-Canadians must undergo a metamorphosis to arrive at a place of comfort and control high in the Canadian alpine. The K8 club continually proves through mountaineering, it is possible to transcend the perceived limits of our cultures and ourselves.
To find out more, check out the K8 Mountaineering Club of Alberta on Facebook.