‘Pulse checks’ on its community
Manitoba Filipino Business Council takes stock of its membership’s wellbeing
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/02/2022 (476 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Elizabeth Cron asked Filipinos of different ages and walks of life what keeps them up at night.
Each person who’d logged into the Manitoba Filipino Business Council’s community check-in on Zoom took a moment to reflect, then answered: work, comparison, raising a child in a pandemic.
One participant noted how unsafe she feels, after the death of Asian-American woman Michelle Go. A 61-year-old man pushed Go in front of a subway train in New York City in January.
“I think it’s just being around community like this that is going to help us get through,” said Cron, a new director to the council’s board, after stating she felt unsafe in Winnipeg for the first time when she was stuck in the anti-mandate convoy by truckers on Portage Avenue.
The virtual meet-up on Jan. 26 was the second the business council’s new board has held. The board — mainly women — is taking “pulse checks” on its community as best it can during the pandemic, president Jackie Wild said.
“In our culture, and many other immigrant cultures, we are taught to internalize our emotions, and by extension, kind of suppress those hardships that we are going through. It becomes just so easy to try to deal with it on our own, and we definitely don’t want to see our community suffer alone in silence.”– Jackie Wild, Manitoba Filipino Business Council president
“In our culture, and many other immigrant cultures, we are taught to internalize our emotions, and by extension, kind of suppress those hardships that we are going through,” Wild said.
The model minority myth depicts immigrants as putting their heads down, doing the work and not complaining, Wild said.
“It becomes just so easy to try to deal with it on our own, and we definitely don’t want to see our community suffer alone in silence.”
One of the council’s goals is to connect Filipinos in the business world, both new and established, and direct them to opportunities.
It’s been hard during the COVID-19 pandemic — but, that’s where the virtual calls come in.
“It doesn’t necessarily need to be a formal, traditional event where we’re talking about taxes or setting up an incorporated business,” Wild said. “It could be as simple as… having just a frank, open, honest and vulnerable discussion with our membership.”
Zoom call participants relayed their feelings of isolation and were met with encouraging smiles and uplifting chat box comments.
“I’ve just known you very recently, but I feel like I’ve known you guys forever,” Chris Clacio said to some members on the call.
Clacio dreams of being an entrepreneur.
“I’ve been trying to figure out where me as a young person, me as a young Filipino person, where I fit in this space,” he said.
Seeing Filipinos in professional roles — and being able to connect with them — is what drew Allan Pineda, 44, to the Manitoba Filipino Business Council.
“I didn’t grow up with architects and engineers. My family and people I was around were mostly front-line workers, low-paying jobs. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s nice seeing, ‘Oh man, there’s this architecture firm that’s owned by Filipinos– that’s crazy.’” — Allan Pineda
“I didn’t grow up with architects and engineers,” Pineda said. “My family and people I was around were mostly front-line workers, low-paying jobs.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s nice seeing, ‘Oh man, there’s this architecture firm that’s owned by Filipinos — that’s crazy.’”
The chef hopped on the January Zoom call for one of his favourite things — networking. His first introduction to the council was pre-pandemic, at an event for young professionals downtown. The experience was eye-opening: he met highly educated people with the same ethnic background as him.
Previously, Pineda had searched for Filipino chefs across the city. He and the cooks would prepare pop-up Filipino dinners, called the Baon Manila Nights series. The events — which are on pause due to the pandemic — have happened over 100 times in Manitoba and overseas.
“I didn’t know there were things like (the Manitoba Filipino Business Council),” Pineda said.
After attending more council functions, Pineda and a group of at least 40 members rallied to create the Kultivation Festival, a Filipino event connecting youth with their heritage. It was gaining traction until COVID-19 put things on ice, Pineda said.
“Now more than ever, (the council is) actually seeing young people… (and) people who are either doing their business as a side hustle or have taken the risk of going all in and betting on themselves,” Wild said.
The council’s new board has fresh faces and young leaders, which might help, she said. She’s the 11-year-old organization’s first female president.
“I also do feel just as a society, we have younger people that are thinking about being business leaders earlier on in life,” Wild said, adding the barriers to enter are decreasing.
“We’re in this virtual world now where you don’t necessarily need to have a brick-and-mortar or need to have a lot of upfront capital.”
The council is continuing to provide resources to their community, including hosting workshops on business basics and anti-racism panels. Leaders are looking to engage more youth and folks with side hustles, Wild said.
Pineda is a fan of the council’s board, which was elected in January 2021 and recently added Cron and Karla Atanacio, a policy assistant and community organizer.
“They’re super fierce and strong,” Pineda said. “It’s almost like they’re fearless.”
The group aims to highlight Filipino businesses via in-person events (when possible) and an online directory, among other things, Wild said.
Winnipeg has a population of 76,725 Filipinos, as recorded in Statistics Canada’s 2016 census, the most recent data available. The city had 705,244 residents that year.
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.