Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Faces of our Filipino community

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Conrad Santos:

Santos was the first Philippines-born Canadian elected in Canada. He went to Harvard University and the University of Michigan, graduating with a PhD in political science. He came to Winnipeg to teach at the University of Manitoba. He was defeated in a bid for the NDP nomination for Fort Garry in 1973 and unsuccessfully ran for city council in 1977 and 1980, but in 1981 he was elected with the NDP for Burrows. He was re-elected in 1986, lost the Burrows nomination in 1988, won the Broadway nomination in 1990, and was elected that year and re-elected in 1995, 1999, and 2003, the last two in the Wellington riding. He left the NDP after being accused of improperly selling party memberships, for which he later pleaded guilty and was fined $200.


Julie Javier:

A nurse, Javier ran unsuccessfully for the Conservative party in the 2010 federal election. She recently founded the Asian ConNEXTion Agency to help newcomers from the Philippines settle in the community.


Ma-Anne Dionisio:

Dionisio was born in the Philippines and came with her parents and four sisters to Canada in 1990. While she performed in a theatre show celebrating the 125th anniversary of Canada, she auditioned successfully for the role of Kim in the Toronto production of Miss Saigon. She has since performed the same role in American, British and Australian productions. She reprised the role in Toronto in 2010. She is currently a founding artist of Theatre 20 in Toronto.

Edda Pangilinan:

She has been the Philippine honorary consul general of Manitoba since 2007.


Rey Pagtakhan:

Pagtakhan was the first Philippines-born Canadian elected to the federal government and as a school board trustee. "I came in 1968, but I was in St. Louis for two years before that. My plan had been to go home, but I really wanted to be a cardiologist. But my professor in the Philippines said we already have four cardiologists here, can you go into something else? So I decided respirology." He was persuaded to come to the Children's Hospital in Winnipeg, and he and his wife drove here. "It was a very quiet place. We saw smoke coming out of chimneys. What also struck me was the sky was so blue." He was elected a school trustee in the St. Vital School Division in 1986, before being elected in 1988 for the Liberals in Winnipeg North and was re-elected in 1993, 1997 and 2000, the last two in Winnipeg North-St. Paul. He was defeated in 2004. He served as minister of western economic diversification and veterans affairs, and was the secretary of state for science, research and development and Asia-Pacific. Post-politics, he has been a founding director of the University of Winnipeg's Global College and a columnist with the Pilipino Express.

Flor Marcelino:

Marcelino was born in Manila and came to Canada in 1982. "My husband had a brother working here as well as two cousins." Her first impression of her new city? "The place was beautiful. Right away we found the warmth and friendliness of the people. We were able to connect right away." Her first job was working as a secretary at a company before moving on to work as a clerk at an advertisement agency. She then became a clerk in the Land Titles Office. She retired in 2006 and had opened a gift store when she was elected as the NDP MLA for Wellington in 2007. She was re-elected in Logan in 2011. She was the first woman of colour elected as MLA in Manitoba. She is the minister of culture, heritage and tourism.


Mike Pagtakhan:

Pagtakhan came to Canada from the Philippines when he was three. He was elected to city council representing Point Douglas in 1997 and was re-elected in 2006 and 2010. He has served as deputy mayor and chairman of the protection and community services committee. He is on a political leave of absence from Manitoba Hydro where he was a specifications and contract officer. He is Rey Pagtakhan's nephew.

Jean 'Virginia' Guiang:

Guiang came to Canada in 1967. She was founder and adviser of the Filipino Domestic Workers Association of Manitoba and is executive director of the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba. She was a president of the Philippine Association of Winnipeg and a founding member of the Coalition of Filipino-Canadians on Violence Prevention. A teacher, she was visiting family in Belgium when she tried to get a job in education in the United States. Finding out the U.S. had reached its quota for immigrants, she was told she could go to Canada. "I said, 'I know nothing about Canada,' so she showed me a map of Canada and said I could cross the border to the United States when I wanted to. I thought 'What do I have to lose?' " She soon worked in the library at the University of Manitoba. She received the Order of Manitoba in 2004 for her longtime volunteerism in the community.


Randy Viray:

Viray owns Randy Viray Financial Services, which provides financial services and export assistance to the Philippines. He is the president of the Manitoba Filipino Business Council and was president of the Philippine-Canadian Centre. He came to Canada in 1981. "I was with my mom and two sisters and I came to Winnipeg because my brother was living here with his wife and they petitioned us. We came because we were struggling over there financially. My brother was working here already and he wanted us to have a better future." To pay off the loan he got for the airfare to Winnipeg, he found a job as a housekeeper at the Westin Hotel, then a waiter and then moved to the front desk. He also worked at the Sheraton Hotel while taking courses at Red River College. "Coming to Winnipeg was a good move for me. I have no regrets and every year I go to the home country to help my people and do charity work." He is a Rotarian and, with local car dealer Larry Vickar, he has helped donate 34 homes in the Philippines.


Manny Reyes:

Reyes is the executive director of the Magdaragat Philippine Pavilion during Folklorama.


Roland Guzman:

He is the former Philippine honorary consul general of Manitoba. He served 21 years in this role.


Ron Cantiveros:

He is co-publisher of the Molave Publishing Company, which produces the Filipino Journal. Known in recent weeks for being a poster child for the Festival du Voyageur ad campaign (wearing a fake moustache and beard). He arrived in Winnipeg as a young child, and his earliest memories are of his family buying him ice skates, and skiing down the banks of the Red River behind the former Winnipeg Ski Club on Osborne Street. "The bank doesn't look too high now, but when you're eight or nine it looks huge."

Rod and Linda Cantiveros:

The Cantiveroses came to Winnipeg from the Philippines in 1974 because Linda wanted to leave the country. "My wife wanted to see the world. It was an adventure. She wanted to get away from martial law and the atmosphere of censorship." Rod said they had to leave their seven-month-old baby, Ron, behind at the time, returning to bring him to Canada two years later. "My first impression of Winnipeg was it wasn't a metropolis like Manila. It was a quiet community. Our friends picked us up at the airport at night and we passed by the back alleys of Sherbrook (Street) and I saw houses with chimneys. I thought it had a nostalgic feeling." He is co-publisher of the Molave Publishing Company and vice-president of marketing at the Filipino Journal. Linda was publisher and editor-in-chief of the Filipino Journal and a much-loved community leader. She died on March 4, 2008, but her legacy lives on in a civic honour called the Rosalinda Natividad Cantiveros Award for courage -- now in its third year. In 2012, the Rosalinda Natividad Cantiveros Foundation for community development will also be launched. Community volunteerism was Linda's passion. She was named one of the 20 outstanding Filipinos in North America at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.


Paul Robles:

Born in the Philippines, Robles graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in sociology at the University of Winnipeg in 1991, and a bachelor of fine arts (honours) from the University of Manitoba in 1996. His paper-cut artworks have been exhibited at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, the Outpost for Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the New Gallery in Calgary and the Winnipeg Art Gallery and Plug In ICA.

Cory Juan:

Juan is a Seven Oaks School Division trustee.


Perla Javate:

Javate is president of the Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba and works for the Winnipeg School Division as a liaison officer. She came to Canada in 1976. "I was a social worker for a group of garment workers who worked in the Netherlands for three years and instead of going back to the Philippines, the girls came to Canada. I was instrumental in bringing them here." She said her first job was as the head of residence at Balmoral Hall as well as working with the residential care staff at Sara Riel. She started with the school division in 1994. "My first impression of Winnipeg was it is so flat. And there was so many nice people."

Ric dela Cruz:

Cruz is a Seven Oaks School Division trustee and a former school board chairman.

Joseph Aragon:

Aragon is a playwright, performer and musician who is a three-time winner of the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival's Best of the Fest award and a two-time winner of the Harry Rintoul Memorial Award for best new Manitoba play. Later this year, Aragon's 2009 fringe hit Bloodless: The Trail of Burke and Hare is being used to launch Theatre 20, a new Toronto theatre company.


Manny Aranez:

He helped found the Philippine Basketball Association Winnipeg.


Darlyne Bautista:

Bautista, a community and education activist endorsed by the NDP, was elected as a Winnipeg School Division trustee in 2010.

Maria Aragon:

Aragon is an 11-year-old girl born in Winnipeg who shot to fame last year after a video of her singing Lady Gaga's song Born This Way went viral on YouTube. Lady Gaga herself saw it and called Aragon while being interviewed on a Winnipeg radio show. The singer also invited Aragon to appear with her during a concert in Toronto. Since then, Aragon has been on Ellen DeGeneres's talk show, performed on Canada Day at Parliament Hill last year during William and Kate's royal tour and signed a contract with a recording company in the Philippines.


Cris Aglugub:

Aglugub went to school in the Philippines and at Red River College after he came to Canada. He was working as a computer programmer for Manitoba Agriculture when he entered provincial politics. He was elected for the NDP in Maples from 1999 to 2007, but after he failed to be renominated, he ran unsuccessfully for the Conservative party in Tyndall Park. He also served on the mayor's race relations committee, is a former president of the Philippine Association of Manitoba, and co-founded the Philippine Centre of Manitoba.


Romulo Magsino:

Born in the Philippines, he is the first and only Filipino-Canadian to become the dean of education at a major university in Canada. He received degrees at the former Luzonian University and a master's degree in education at the University of Sydney in Australia. He later received a master's degree in educational policy and PhD in philosophy at the University of Wisconsin. He was a professor at the Memorial University of Newfoundland before becoming head of the department of educational administration and foundations at the University of Manitoba from 1988 to 1996. He became dean of the university's faculty of education in 1996. He was president of the Filipino Association of Newfoundland, an adviser to the Philippine Association of Manitoba and president of the Philippine-Canadian Centre of Manitoba. He was president of the Manitoba Association for Multicultural Education. He has been honoured with the Order of Manitoba.


Rowena Oquendo:

Oquendo is the president of the Manitoba Council of Canadian Filipino Associations.

Tia Provici:

Born in Winnipeg, Provici is a makeup artist and stylist and the owner of Provici Cosmetics and the Provici Cosmetics Studio, founded in 2006. Provici is also one of the city's best-known fashion stylists and has been called "Winnipeg's style guru" in the Free Press. Her studio has also been recognized by Flare magazine as "one of the best primping hot spots" in Canada. She has styled at the Junos and the Grammys. "My mother came to Canada in 1969 as one of the first batch of garment workers. My father came in 1972, and they were married in Winnipeg." Provici went to West Kildonan Collegiate and then George Brown College in Toronto for a clothing designer degree, followed by a makeup school through MAC Cosmetics, and a hair-stylist program through Vidal Sassoon in Hong Kong. "I've experienced large cities in the world, but I thought I could be more of a pioneer in this city, and I can surround myself with friends and family."


Fred de Villa:

De Villa is an insurance agent and leader in the Filipino community. In the wake of Tropical Storm Washi in December, he raised aid money as chairman of the Filipino-Canada Disaster Relief Fund. He is chairman of the Winnipeg-Filipino Breakfast Council and the Manitoba Coalition of Philippine Organizations in Manitoba. Before coming to Canada, he worked in the country's taxation department. "I came here in 1977, but I didn't know Winnipeg before that. Winnipeg was not known in the Philippines. My sister started sponsoring me when she lived in Calgary, but it took so long for my sponsorship to come through that she lived in Winnipeg." First impression of his new city? "It was cold. When I was flying close to Winnipeg, I was wondering why it was so white. It was the first time I saw snow and it was dark. Then the next day, I was wondering how come there were all these dead trees. Everyone said that was just until summer, but I didn't believe them." His first job in Winnipeg was as a custodian. He decided to go back to school because he believed unless he did, he would never get a job like the one he had in the Philippines. He became comptroller of the company where he had worked as a custodian. He later joined Sun Life as a financial adviser.

Alda Ruiz:

Ruiz was president of the Philippine Nurses Association of Manitoba, which was formed by a group of nurses from the Philippines at the Municipal Hospital, now the Riverview Health Centre. The PNAM is a support group for new nurses coming to Manitoba.

Jon Reyes:

He was born in Winnipeg to a family from the Philippines. His father came in 1968 as a skilled trades worker in the garment industry and his mother and sister followed a year later. He spent 10 years in the Canadian Armed Forces in both the army and the navy and later graduated with a business degree. He is a member of the Manitoba Football Officials Association. He was the founder of the Manitoba Filipino Business Council in 2010. "With the growing population of Filipinos in Winnipeg, I felt the need to have an organization that helped like-minded individuals in the Filipino business community and businesses that wanted to network in one of the city's largest ethnic communities." He is the owner of the UPS Store in Kenaston Commons. He said his father was the first person to organize a basketball league in the Filipino community; now there are more than five leagues.


Anthony Ramos:

Ramos is a Winnipeg School Division trustee and has been chairman of the school board.

Emmie Joaquin:

Joaquin received a degree in broadcast communication in the Philippines before coming to Canada in 1988. "I didn't come here because of family. My mother and my two sisters were there and I was a PR person. I had a good job. I was just looking for something else." She visited the Canadian Embassy and received a visitor's visa in just two weeks. "There was a deadline of March 16 to use it, and I came here on March 5. Two nights before, I didn't know if I would come, but I thought I'd give it a try. My employer said I could come back. Luckily it worked out." Her first impression of Winnipeg? "It's not that cold, but why are all the trees black? Then I started meeting my cousin's family and all the people were friendly." Her first job was with Business People magazine then she started, produced, and co-hosted Good Morning Philippines on CKJS for 15 years, starting in 1989. She briefly worked in communications for MP Rey Pagtakhan and as executive assistant to Coun. Mike Pagtakhan. She then became a financial adviser with Sun Life before becoming editor-in-chief of the Pilipino Express. She was honoured with the Queen's Jubilee Medal for community service in 2003.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 3, 2012 J65530


Updated on Friday, September 6, 2013 at 3:29 PM CDT: Clarifies Romulo Magsino was president of the Philippine-Canadian Centre of Manitoba.

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