Pilipino Express • Apr 1 2024

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Kim Chiu


Set to hit Rainbow Stage this summer!

An all-new, all-Filipino musical will be making history in Manitoba this summer, with two Broadway stars joining the cast.

On March 19, Rainbow Stage held an official cast announcement at Max’s Restaurant in Winnipeg where artistic director Carson Nattrass said that Ma-Buhay!

A New Musical! is the very first musical that Rainbow Stage has ever commissioned and developed in its 70 years of operation.

Ma-Buhay! Is a hilarious musical filled with original pop music and hip-hop dance. It


Volume 20 • No. 7 • April 1 - 15 , 2024 Publication Mailing Account #41721512
Filipino Canadian Broadway performers, Andrea Macasaet and MaAnne Dionisio, return to their Manitoba roots for new musical
The cast and crew of Ma-Buhay! A New Musical – the first ever commissioned by Winnipeg’s Rainbow Stage – were introduced at a media event at Max’s Restaurant, March 19.

Whether you are eight years old or 80 years old, having at least one brother or sister means that you share unique memories about your childhood with someone else on this earth. Your sibling also knew the household that you grew up in, which includes favourite foods, the layout of all the furniture, and what special occasions were like. On April 10th, several countries including Canada, the United States and the Philippines celebrate Siblings Day.

Although not everyone has an easy relationship with their brother or sister, most people agree that there are benefits to growing up with a sibling. I myself grew up as the oldest child with one brother and two sisters. It was never boring in our house! Besides having shared memories and an understanding of relationships within the family, I always had a companion and rarely felt lonely.

Most families can agree that along with the disagreements and hurt feelings, there were many times of endless laughter, teasing, and the freedom of being silly and young. The relationship

between siblings is unique and often enriches our lives in countless ways, even as adults. Here are some of the benefits to having siblings, which often led to shaping character, building resilience, and fine-tuning social skills from a young age:

1. Lifelong companionship

One of the most remarkable gifts of having siblings is the companionship that lasts a lifetime. From the tender moments of playing together as kids to the support during the challenges of adulthood, siblings stand as constants in each other’s lives. They are often the longest relationships that we will ever have. Siblings are the confidants who understand the intricacies of family dynamics and share a history that no one else can replicate. I will often sit at the dinner table with my siblings, and it is so easy to start a story with, “Do you remember the time when…?”

2. Lessons in conflict resolution

Growing up with siblings offers invaluable lessons in conflict resolution and negotiation. You

Thinking about women trade union leaders, organizing, and empowerment, an activist sister and friend came to mind and her name is Mildred Caldo of Workers United. According to the Workers United Canada Council’s (WUCC) website, “Workers United represents more or less 10,000 workers across Canada, and 100,000 more across the United States.” They have members who speak over 50 languages and who work in a wide range of industries.

During my years as a coordinator for Migrante Manitoba, a Filipino Migrant organization with several chapters here in Canada, I met Mildred Caldo in several meetings about the issues concerning migrants and workers’ rights in Winnipeg.

Mildred arrived in Winnipeg in 2006 from Batangas, a southern Luzon province of the Philippines, and part of an economic enclave called Calabarzon (Calabarzon is a showcase of neoliberal economic policies in the Philippines). Much to my surprise, Mildred confided that she volunteered for the Kilusang Mayo Uno labour centre (KMU) (May First Movement). I was also a member of KMU’s cultural arm, Tambisan sa Sining

or Interaction in Arts. Mildred’s first job in Canada was unionized and she became actively involved in helping co-workers with their issues and concerns. After three months, the Union Rep asked her to become a shop steward. Since then, her union sister Abs Diza, a Union Rep, sent her to several trainings and courses related to unionism.

Social relevance of unions

Most people in the community, except for shop stewards and other leaders, are not aware that the workers are the ones creating wealth with their labour power and their organized strength.

Mildred explained that the “union is important because it was created to help workers fight for fair wages and safe workplaces, to be treated with dignity and respect by their employers. I truly believe that when workers unite or come together, they can make an impact on everyone’s wellbeing.” The workers, therefore, through their social practice, shape their relevance in society.

Strike and transformation

On the role of the strike as a tool of change, Mildred explained, “Yes, I have experienced different kinds of strikes and demonstrations. The most memorable were the Tim

Sibling love

have no choice but to learn how to get along and settle disagreements!

As a mother, I will often sit back and watch as my three sons work to settle a difference of opinion. Sometimes, it takes a while before things settle down (along with hurt feelings), but ultimately they get to some sort of conclusion together. The hope is that this will lead to healthy conflict resolution skills that will serve them well in their own future family, friend, and workplace relationships.

Through the give and take of sibling interactions, individuals develop empathy, patience, and the ability to see things from different perspectives.

3. Emotional support and understanding

In times of joy and sorrow, siblings serve as pillars of emotional support and understanding. Growing up, it was a gift to be able to watch my parents lean on their own siblings for support and help them as well.

Good sibling relationships will result in sharing of successes, but also offering solace during times of disappointment or loss. The bond forged through shared experiences creates a safe space where individuals can express their vulnerabilities without fear of judgment. Whether offering a listening ear, a shoulder to cry

on, or words of encouragement, siblings play a crucial role in bolstering each other’s emotional well-being and resilience.

4. Building social skills Siblings serve as the first social network for many individuals, providing opportunities for social interaction, cooperation, and conflict resolution from an early age. Through play and shared activities, siblings learn important social skills such as cooperation, negotiation, and teamwork. I’m sure that we all have witnessed two little children argue over a toy or a parent’s attention. Sometimes there is yelling and tears, but eventually kids learn to take turns and share. It’s great practice for future disagreements later in life!

5. Fostering healthy competition

I remember growing up with another family in the neighbourhood where two of the siblings were very competitive with each other in sports. A game of street hockey could easily end up in a yelling or pushing match!

Sibling rivalry can be a powerful motivator for personal growth and achievement. Whether vying for academic success, athletic prowess, or creative endeavours, siblings often push each other to excel and reach their full potential.

If it is a healthy and supportive

environment, competition with siblings can foster resilience, determination, and a drive for continuous improvement. Rather than fostering resentment, healthy sibling competition cultivates a spirit of mutual respect and admiration, celebrating each other’s accomplishments while striving to reach new heights.

6. Shared memories and traditions

From family holidays to everyday adventures, siblings share a treasure trove of memories and traditions that bind them together. I’ve watched as groups of siblings enjoy the retelling of a family vacation or funny trip to the grocery store. These shared experiences form the fabric of family identity, creating a sense of continuity and belonging across generations. How special it is to feel that you belong somewhere! Stories have a way of uniting us, and siblings can forge a legacy that strengthens family bonds and provides a source of comfort throughout life.

“Siblings are like branches of a tree. We grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.” – Unknown

Cheryl Dizon-Reynante is a licensed therapist with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association.

Mildred Caldo: Organizing and empowerment

Hortons strike downtown and the Freed and Freed Garments strike.

I witnessed the unity of all the union organizations, including the Manitoba Federation of Labour and the Winnipeg Labour Council. Despite the challenging weather conditions during the Tim Hortons strike, the workers fought for their rights and made their voices heard. During the Freed and Freed Garments strike, I organized and supported the workers in fighting for a better contract. I was inspired by their courage and determination. I have also joined and supported other union strikes, volunteered as an NDP candidate, and served the Filipino community at the Philippine Consulate from 2008 to 2012.”

Trade unionism and consciousness

Mildred noted, “Some of the union courses I have taken include Shop Steward Training, Mel Myers labour conference and training (various courses), Canadian Labour Congress training (Negotiation Cycle), and inside organizing school in Washington. In 2014, I received an Activist Award from Workers United Canada Council, and in 2015, I received the Volunteer Organizer Award from WUCC.” Inspirations to serve

Since the General Strike of 1919, the labour movement has produced a lot of great working-class leaders worthy of emulation. Through the years, especially in times of crisis, the labour movement has served as a shield in protecting and advancing workers’ rights and welfare. For this, Mildred expressed her admiration for the following people, “Barry Fowlie, our former Canadian Director, who unfortunately passed away before the Canada Goose Company workers were certified as part of Workers United; Vas Gunaratna, a Union Rep, and Canadian Director, also inspired me to help and educate workers about their rights; Norma Rae, a single mother who bravely organized her workplace despite the dangers. Lastly, Mary Kay

Henry, the female International President of SEIU, with over two million members in the US and Canada, is a true labour union activist. They all motivate me to fight for workers’ rights and make a positive impact.”

Mildred ended the interview with a quote, “United we stand, divided we fall! Union is Strength! We are Workers United no matter what!” Pretty basic but powerful! This quote says it all!

Levy Abad authored a book titled Rhythms and Resistance: Narrative of Filipino Musicians and Activists (1972-1994). Levy is also a singer-songwriter, poet, and migrant rights activist who has released four albums centred on the life and struggles of migrants.



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tells the story of three singing and dancing finalists who join a fictional Filipino reality TV competition.

For creator and lyricist, Joseph Sevillo, it is a big dream come true.

“It’s a real dream come true! I have been working on this project for the last seven years and it has been an uphill battle to get here but it was worth it to put in my blood, sweat and tears so that I can feature this many Filipinos on a professional stage, on the Canadian stage, as well as get them paid for their talent.

Sevillo has been working in theatre for 20 years and believes that the musical is not just a story about Filipinos but of anyone who dares to follow through on their dreams, braving the odds and finding themselves in the process.

“It is about one’s journey, about finding themselves in pursuit of their dreams. And I think that every human being has a dream. And I hope that when people watch the show, they would be inspired to pursue their own dreams.”

Joining the Ma-Buhay cast are Andrea Macasaet and Ma-anne Dionisio, local talents who both pursued their dreams all the way to Broadway.

Macasaet is best known for originating the role of Anne Boleyn in Six, while Dionisio was best known for originating the role of Kim in Toronto’s Miss Saigon, as well as other memorable roles.

Dionisio couldn’t attend the cast announcement, but Macasaet, who also rendered a song from Ma-Buhay, said she was only too happy to be able to join the musical despite her

schedule. She was also a part of Ma-Buhay in the early stages of its development.

“We need to have this show because it’s important for the kids who want to pursue musical theatre to see themselves in every possible role that they can play.”

For stage pioneer and vocal coach Joy Lazo, the musical is indeed something to be proud of.

“It’s history in the making, really. First time, it’s an allFilipino cast, mainly Manitobans, maybe there’s two who are not, but they still have Filipino roots. It’s wonderful and I can’t be more excited for the cast and for our community. It’s basically a brainchild for Rainbow Stage and for our community.”

And for Sevillo, his ultimate dream is for the musical to someday reach Broadway.

“The dream has always been

the furthest reach, which is New York on Broadway. I want it to be the first musical from Manitoba on Broadway, which is a big feat, but I got to keep going with it. Ma-Buhay! A New Musical! will have its world premiere on Rainbow Stage from June 26 to July 14, 2024

Tickets are available through rainbowstage.ca

Minister Marci Ien in Winnipeg

Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, was in Winnipeg on March 25-26, for a two-day official visit. Before heading back to Ottawa on Tuesday, March 26, she had a short ‘meet and greet’ lunch with some Filipino women at the Kabalen Restaurant on Inkster Blvd with lunch host, Kevin Lamoureux, MP for Winnipeg North. In photo seated l-r: Joy Lazo, Edda Pangilinan, Minister Marci Ien, and MP Kevin Lamoureux; Standing l-r: Marilyn Magtoto, Josie Concepcion, Winnie Navarro, Emmie Joaquin, Daisy Villegas, Bingle Ordoñez, Nicole Tongol, and Hazel Esguerra.

Manitoba Opera presents Carmen, one of the world’s most popular operas, April

Considered to be one of the world’s most popular operas, Carmen, the sexy thriller that seduces the audience with every note, will be presented by Manitoba Opera at the Centennial Concert Hall Saturday, April 13 (7:30 p.m.), Wednesday, April 17 (7:00 p.m.), and Friday, April 19 (7:30 p.m.).

Set in Spain, Carmen tells the story of a passionate, freespirited woman who can have any man she wants, but when she seduces the young soldier Don José only to cast him aside for the handsome bullfighter, she seals her tragic fate. Carmen will be sung in French with French dialogue and projected English translation.

Carmen is unrivalled in its list hit melodies and recognizable music, including Carmen’s smoky Habanera, Don José’s Flower Song, and the rousing Toreador Song. Over 140 years after its premiere in Paris, composer Georges Bizet’s opera continues to captivate audiences around the globe.

“Who can resist the sensuous music of Bizet? With its lavish score and brilliant orchestration, Carmen is an irresistible theatrical event. Last performed by the company in 2010, we are very pleased to bring this opera to the stage for an entirely new audience,” explains Larry Desrochers, General Director & CEO.

Acclaimed American mezzosoprano Ginger Costa-Jackson makes her company debut as the fiery temptress, with the celebrated Canadian tenor David Pomeroy reprising his role as the obsessive corporal, Don José. Acclaimed Canadian baritone Daniel Okulitch will be appearing as Escamillo the dashing bullfighter. Two Winnipeg favourites will also be featured: sopranos Lara Ciekiewicz, who will be singing the role of Michaëla, and Lara Secord-Haid as Frasquita. Jacques Arsenault (Remendado) will be making a company debut. Giles Tomkins, who appeared in 2019 as Basilio in The Barber of Seville, will sing Zuniga, with Johnathon Kirby singing the dual roles of Moralès and Le Dancaïre. Barbara King will sing Mercédès. Brian Deedrick will direct the production, which is set in and around Seville, Spain, in the mid-1930s. Tyrone Paterson will conduct the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the Manitoba Opera Chorus. For tickets call 204-9448824, go online at mbopera. ca, or in person at the MO Box Office, lower level, Centennial Concert Hall (9:30 a.m. –4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday). Seniors, students, and youth discounts are available. For more information on Carmen, go to mbopera.ca/season/ carmen-2

13, 17 & 19




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Internationally renowned mezzo-soprano, Ginger Costa-Jackson, will be portraying Carmen in Manitoba Opera’s upcoming production A scene from Manitoba Opera’s production of Carmen, 2010. Photo by R. Tinker
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Is Kim Chiu game to do movie with Paulo Avelino?

With the overwhelming success of What’s wrong with Secretary Kim?’, fans of Kim Chiu and Paulo Avelino are requesting that the two do a movie after the series.

Petition for KimPau on the big screen became a hot topic online after the unprecedented following of the two with backto-back successful projects Linlang and Secretary Kim

ABS-CBN News caught up with Kim Chiu during the historic contract signing between GMA-7 and ABS-CBN for her noontime show It’s Showtime

Kim said: “Hindi naman namin hawak ‘yun eh, hawak ng management yun.”

But when asked for her personal take on it and if she’s okay to do it with Paulo, “Oo naman puwede naman, magandang kuwento, magandang production, hindi natin mamadaliin, so bakit hindi.”

Does she think Paulo would be willing to do it, Kim said: “Sa tingin ko, oo.”

Kim also revealed that they are about to wrap up their

taping for the series soon. Last Tuesday, ABS-CBN executives made a surprise visit to the set of Secretary Kim to personally congratulate Kim and Paulo.

“Nag-prepare kami for a heavy scene, nasa standby area kami, kaniya-kaniya tapos walang nag-uusap masyado tapos ay daw

kayo ni direk, tapos paglabas namin, surprise! Ang saya ko na naman.”

–MJ Felipe, ABS-CBN News

Ria Atayde and Zanjoe Marudo are now married

It’s official. Celebrity couple Ria Atayde and Zanjoe Marudo got married March 23 at a civil wedding in Quezon City. Mayor Joy Belmonte officiated the wedding in front of the couple’s families and closest friends.

Marudo posted their heartwarming photos on his Instagram account. In the post, he greeted Atayde on her birthday, referring to her as “my wife”.

The surprise revelation comes just a few months after the couple announced their engagement last February 20.

It was just in October 2022 when screen veteran Sylvia Sanchez admitted that Marudo was courting Atayde.

Marudo confirmed that he is in a relationship with Atayde in January 2023.

Fans and followers were quick to flood the comments section with congratulatory messages and well-wishes for the newlyweds.

“Happy birthday to YOUR WIFE! and congrats you two” Jake Ejercito wrote.

Atayde’s sister Gela said, “Welcome to the family, kuya.” Angelica Panganiban wrote:

Uy wife!! Congrats Mr & Mrs Marudo” Aside from co-starring in the

Paulo Avelino & Kim Chiu 2017 series My Dear Heart, the two have been frequently spotted in the same showbiz circles. Ria Atayde & Zanjoe Marudo Ria’s parents, Art Atayde & Sylvia Sanchez

ABS-CBN’s It’s Showtime to air on GMA starting April 6

GMA Network and ABSCBN Corp. are thrilled to announce a historic collaboration as the noontime variety show It’s Showtime will air on GMA from Monday to Saturday, 12:00 noon to 2:30 pm beginning 6 April 2024 (Saturday).

The momentous partnership was sealed at a contract signing ceremony held at the GMA studios, attended by the top executives

from both companies, along with the popular hosts of It’s Showtime. Representing GMA Network were Chairman Atty. Felipe L. Gozon, President and CEO Gilberto R. Duavit, Jr., Chairman of the Executive Committee

Joel G. Jimenez, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Felipe S. Yalong, and Senior Vice


It’s Showtime cast

The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra

In tune with the Filipino community

As a singer in Winnipeg, one cannot ask for anything more than to perform with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. I can vividly remember daydreaming as a child about being accompanied by a full orchestra, and who would have known that dreams do manifest and do come true. I remember sitting in the audience, imagining that I was the one singing with the WSO, and lo and behold, my opportunity finally arrived. For over 10 years now, what started as being a guest performer with the WSO slowly evolved and grew into presenting a full concert together, all for good causes.

It fills me with so much joy to be given the privilege to use my voice as a platform to build community and create positive social impacts. Since we started our Annual Concert for a Cause series in 2015, we have raised almost $150,000 for local Manitoba charities, and we are gearing up for our 10th Concert for a Cause with the WSO on November 16, 2024. Through the collective community support and the support of the WSO, we have raised over $70,000 for Sistema Winnipeg, and my family has since established an endowment fund for Sistema Winnipeg.

Sistema Winnipeg is a partnership between the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Seven Oaks School Division and Winnipeg School Division. It is a daily, intensive music education program that focuses on children with the fewest resources and the greatest need. The program delivers musical training to children after school for over two


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hours a day, five days a week, at no cost to their families. Sistema Winnipeg encourages children to reach their full potential and inspires greater social change within the community. This program uses the power of ensemble music to dramatically change the trajectory of children’s lives through philosophies of inclusion, teamwork, artistic excellence, intensity, mentorship, and community focus. It is a music program that changes lives.

As an individual whose life has been significantly impacted by music, my heart is very close to Sistema Winnipeg, its beliefs, and the work it does to enhance the lives of children. As a community member and a singer, words cannot express how much admiration I have for the WSO. I encourage everyone to come to concerts to support our very own, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. I am sure it will be a magical experience, and that the power of music will touch you in more ways than you can ever imagine.

singer, he has raised thousands of dollars for various charities in Manitoba since 2014 though his annual Concert for a Cause. This year, his beneficiary will be ANCOP. The concert is coming

up soon. Watch out for further announcements in the Pilipino Express.

ABS-CBN was represented by Chairman Mark L. Lopez, President and CEO Carlo L. Katigbak, Chief Operating Officer Cory V. Vidanes, and Group Chief Financial Officer Rick B. Tan

It’s Showtime hosts Vice Ganda, Anne Curtis, Vhong

Navarro, Jhong Hilario, Kim Chiu, Ogie Alcasid, Karylle, Amy Perez, Teddy Corpuz, Jugs Jugueta, Darren, Ryan Bang, Ion Perez, Jackie Gonzaga, MC, Lassy, and Cianne Dominguez were also in attendance.

The author: Paul Ong is a Vice Principal in Winnipeg School Division. A renowned President for Programming, Talent Management, Worldwide, and Support Group and GMA Films President and CEO Atty. Annette Gozon-Valdes.

The unprecedented move reflects the commitment of GMA and ABS-CBN to deliver topnotch entertainment and serve the Filipino people.

GMA Network extends a heartfelt reception to the whole It’s Showtime family and considers it a welcome addition to the growing list of program offerings for its

Contract signing with the ABS-CBN and GMA Network executives

Kapuso viewers nationwide and abroad.

ABS-CBN and It’s Showtime, meanwhile, express their sincere gratitude to GMA Network for opening its doors and providing a new platform to bring entertainment and happiness to more viewers across the country.


On March 17, 2024, the Leaf at the Assiniboine Park hosted the event 7,000+ islands, Kalikasan Kultura, at Kapwa: Philippine Nature, Culture, and Community. This was organized and inspired by Aira Fusilero Villanueva and her company Fleur de Fusilero. The event, held in the Mediterranean Biome, coincided with the last day of the “the Flora of the Philippines” at the Leaf, which showcased flora native to the Philippines.

The event celebrated the connection between Philippine culture, environment, and kapwa, which can mean the spirit of embracing one’s neighbours and identity. As Ms. Aira Villanueva said in her opening remarks, “The connection between nature, culture, and kapwa is a complex and intertwined concept that underscores the importance of caring, understanding, and cooperating with our world and each other. Their relationships and interactions compel us to be responsible and compassionate towards our environment, culture, and fellow human beings.” In the last few years, Aira has proven herself to be a leader of Philippine culture and identity, fusing it with her passion for the environment.

The spirit of Kalikasan Kultura, at Kapwa was captured eloquently in the opening remarks of Dr. Dennis Gupa, Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and Film at the University of Winnipeg. In his speech, Dr. Gupa spoke of Tabi Tabi Po, a practice in the Philippines predating Christianity wherein one asks permission from invisible creatures or spirits believed to inhabit nature such

as forest paths, mountain trails, rivers, etc. The act demonstrates a sort of reverence and respect for the environment, and Dr. Gupa encouraged the audience to consider the idea of Tabi Tabi Po in the context of environmental stewardship in Canada.

The event was opened by the one-of-a-kind land acknowledgement as performed by Ernesto Ofiaza and his trademark concert ukulele. This was particularly poignant as a traditional land acknowledgment reminds us of the sense of environment stewardship that both Indigenous and settler communities need to commit to in partnership.

The next couple hours were embraced by music and dance from the Filipino community. The Ukulele Filipino Club, established by the Filipino Music and Arts Association of Canada Incorporated (FMAACI) and the Filipino Seniors Group of Winnipeg (FSGW) first performed and was followed by students from the Keewatin Prairie Community School who performed a flowing rendition of the Bulaklakan Dance, led by Marilyn Gomez Malek (assisted by her loving husband, yours truly). This group of students was part of the Manitoba Association of Filipino Teachers’ Association, Inc.’s (MAFTI) after-school heritage program. Marilyn also led a short story telling session of Alamat ng Pinya (the legend of the pineapple).

A series of performances were given by the BIBAK Association of Manitoba, the Filipino Folk Dance Group, and the Winnipeg Sikaran Arnis Academy, which

Kalikasan, Kultura, at Kapwa at the Leaf

is celebrating their 20th year anniversary. Before the musical performances, Mr. Ramon Sales shared with the audience the activities of Caring for our Environment Manitoba (CEM), a Filipino community group that promotes environmental knowledge and stewardship. Mr. Sales and the CEM group are a frequent sight at community events across the city.

The stage was then handed to a fantastically talented group of singers and musicians: Jovelle Balani; Jobel and Khristine Toress; Joyze Colada; and Mikaelah Ramos and Daniel Santos. The performances ranged from Jovelle’s unique, soulful jazz to Joyze’s upbeat cover of Apo Hiking Society’s Panalangin, and beautiful renditions of Philippine kundiman and love songs.

The event, which nearly coincided with World Water Day (March 22), was not only a beautiful Sunday spent amidst the warm embrace of Filipino culture (and of the Mediterranean Biome) but was a reminder of the importance of the environment to life and to culture. So much of Philippine culture – practices like Tabi Tabi Po, the prevalence of sampaguita flower braids, the rich diversity of Filipino cuisine, or the tropically-minded Barong Tagalog – is rooted in the Philippine environment. More than this, just as the Biome at the Leaf hosted the event, so too does our global environment host all the richness that is humanity. It has birthed, fostered, and raised culture and it should be treated with the same respect and care to preservation as with one’s culture.

The event is evidence of the continual growth of the Filipino community in Winnipeg. Every

year, more and more events are hosted within the Filipino community. This event shows the promise that the upcoming generations of younger Filipinos have in bearing the standard of their heritage, sharing it amongst themselves in the spirit of kapwa and with the wider Winnipeg community.

Many congratulations to all

involved in the event!

Jon Malek is an Assistant Professor of History at Providence University College. His research is on the history of the Philippines and the Filipino diaspora. His current writing projects include a book on the history of Filipinos in Canada and a project on Filipino food and culture.

Photos by Mark Godilano

Winnipeg mission brings smiles and sight to the Philippines

Winnipeg dentists, hygienists, and opticians teamed up with counterparts in the Philippines for the Smiles and Sight 2024 Mission from February 19 to March 2, 2024.

The initiative was steered by dentist Dr. Tricia Magsino Barnabé, who donated proceeds from her musical revue New Beginnings in a New World to subsidise some of the costs of running this mission in the Philippines.

Dr. Barnabé solicited the assistance of Dr. Tom Colina, who mobilised a Kindness in Action dental team of 19 members and Dr. Ronald Mervin Sison, a licenced optometrist in the Philippines, to assemble a group of 17 Philippine optometrists and staff to add vision and optical care.

Other participants from Winnipeg’s Filipino community included Sharon Colina, Alana Colina, Carol Colina, Maria Pagdato, Rio Pagdato, Dr. Melanie Dulguime, a licenced dentist in the Philippines, hygienist Ursula Rosati, and Vicky and Ador Cabrera.

Temporary clinics were set up in two impoverished villages established by the charity organization ANCOP (Answering the Cry of the Poor). The first mission site was in a village in the middle of Quezon City slums on Visayas Avenue, and the second mission site was in the community of Pagbilao in Quezon province.

Children, adults, and seniors were served during a total of six and a half workdays. From the mission sites and surrounding villages, 632 dental patients were assessed for dental disease and other oral treatment needs. From these patients, 825 tooth extractions were performed and 320 restorations on a total of 550 tooth surfaces. In addition, 246 patients were provided with dental cleanings, oral hygiene presentations, instructions, and

fluoride application.

The eye care team saw 778 patients, who were tested for standard refraction, colour vision, depth perception, and heterophoria (eye muscle deviations). The team dispensed 517 pairs of glasses for either distance only or bifocal glasses. Reading glasses were also distributed to patients in need. Patients that presented with conditions such as cataracts, low vision, colour blindness, and other conditions, were referred to local specialists for further assessment.

On the dental perspective, planning the mission posed several challenges. The logistics of transportation details, housing, food planning and transporting dental equipment and supplies from Canada to the Philippines was complex. Dental providers needed approval from the Philippine government to perform dental treatment to locals in their country. At the mission sites, preparing clinics with equipment and supplies, then constantly sanitizing, and sterilizing dental tools, was time consuming. Team members who were not trained in the dental field were responsible for carrying out several tasks after receiving a crash course in dental assisting and management. Dental providers and those performing hygiene treatment worked uncomfortably in extremely hot, humid environments while in standing position, as patients sat on chairs or laid flat on tables.

On the eye care perspective, it was difficult coordinating with two different teams of practitioners with their vision division leader who was 12,000 km away from his group members. And until the funding was confirmed, just months prior to the mission, detailed planning with the teams about the workstations was shared with little time to spare. Furthermore, one to three weeks after the

mission ended, 517 pairs of eye glasses still required dispensing to patients by the vision and optical teams.

Despite all these obstacles, all the volunteers found the mission experience very rewarding. Ursula Rosati, a Winnipeg hygienist who joined the dental team, is the daughter of Lita Mendoza Rosati and Rocco Rosati. It was a great opportunity for her to join the Smiles and Sight 2024 Mission to the Philippines, since this was the first time she and her sister Odessa had ever been to the Philippines and the only time in 45 years for her mother Lita to return to her hometown. Her sentiments about the mission: “My favourite part about the dental mission was seeing how appreciative the patients were. They all had such

a happy demeanour and positive mindset; despite the challenges they face day to day. And the kids

could melt your heart! Working in 30° C wasn’t easy but so worth it.”

Dental care in Pagbilao, Quezon province The Smiles and Sight 2024 mission team at the Pagbilao, Quezon site A patient receives vision care from the Smiles and Sight 2024 Mission in Pagbilao, Quezon province The dental workspace of the Smiles and Sight 2024 Mission in Pagbilao, Quezon province


Ni Bro. Gerry Gamurot


1. Kinalinga

5. Dati nang ginagawa

12. Isama

13. Palikpik

14. Unlapi

16. Bulong

17. Tinulungan

18. Magalang na tugon

19. Isdang pangmasa

21. Ipaayos

25. Panghalip

27. Init

29. Idako

31. Ampon

32. Pinag-uusapan


1. Halaman

2. Hangad

3. Buntalan

4. Bambang

6. Inihaw

7. Kumpas

8. Di inyo

9. Handog

10. Pula ng itlog

11. Panghalip

15. Bahagi ng maghapon

18. Pilas

20. Patnubay

21. Pananong

22. Lahat

23. Sero

24. Nakakabarik

26. Inam

28. Una sa takdang oras

30. Hudyat sa taguan

31. Palayaw ng lalaki

Bulaklak, harana, at sayawan sa The Leaf

An afternoon full of flowers, cultural celebration, and people. Assiniboine Park’s The Leaf held an event to showcase different local flowers from the Philippines, and performances of fellow Filipinos on March 17.

To pay homage to the richness of Filipino flora and culture, Aira Fusilero Villanueva, a florist from the Philippines, collaborated with The Leaf to organize an event called 7,000 Islands: Kalikasan, Kultura, at Kapwa, which highlighted a production that consists of traditional Filipino entertainment. The audience immersed themselves in the enchanting melodies of local musicians, and skilful dances.

Being both a florist and a teacher, Aira wanted to impart to the community here in Winnipeg that her Filipino heritage can be shown through an event like this that combines flowers and


Filipinos take pride in the diversity of their country especially with their local native tongues, and with that Aira was able to get different singers of various genres to serenade the audience with Filipino love songs in different languages. The Ukelele Filipino Club’s opened the show followed by Jovelle Balani with her jazz-infused music, Joyze Colada’s OPM covers, and Mikaelah Ramos and Daniel Santos’ duet.

In addition to the harana, the event also showcased the country’s ancient martial arts sikaran through a dance exhibition from Winnipeg’s Sikaran Arnis Academy, the BIBAK Association of Manitoba’s cultural dance promoting the heritage of the indigenous people from the Philippine’s Mountain Province, as well as the Atiatihan, and Sinulog Folk dances.

This collaboration between Aira Villanueva and Assiniboine

Park was an enriching experience for the community, and it really proves how Filipinos are ecstatic to introduce their colourful traditions here in Winnipeg.

SAGOT SA NO. 437 Photos
by Triple J Media Photography
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