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Emmie Joaquin

  Manitoba's Filipino community:

  looking forward, looking back

As we went to press for this July 1st issue of Pilipino Express, Canada’s population was in the news. It has now exceeded 34 million.

Statistics Canada revealed that the country’s population stood at 34,019,000 on April 1st, a jump of about 88,000 since it last counted Canadians on Jan. 1st when it was 33,930,800.

Manitoba’s population grew by about a third of a percent to 1,232,700, its most significant first-quarter growth rate since the 1970s, according to the federal agency. In 2009, Manitoba saw more than 13,500 immigrants settling in the province, said officials.


And it is no secret that the leading source of new immigrants in this province is the Philippines. According to our source from the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) office, many Filipino immigrants decide to immigrate to Manitoba because of the popular notion in the Philippines that Winnipeg is a welcoming place for newcomers, and that, “They don’t feel that they’re strangers because they already have existing ties (with extended families or old friends) when they get here.”

The recent wave of Filipino immigrants that went through the PNP are mostly skilled with varying academic degrees and financial capabilities to support themselves during their settlement period. Manitoba is very fortunate to be their chosen destination because we Filipinos are an industrious and resourceful people. There is no doubt that our people contribute significantly to the economic and social growth of the province.

The regrettable thing about this is that as new skilled Filipino immigrants come to join us here in Canada, the land of our birth is losing them in droves. But then, we all do what we have to do. We all have different reasons as to why we left the Philippines. Their reasons may not be as different from those who left the Philippines in 1959 or 2009.

Like it or not, we are definitely growing in numbers. And I believe – to borrow a quote from a famous Martha – it is a good thing.

From Manila to Manitoba

And speaking of reasons why we immigrated, I would like to invite all our readers to bring your family to visit the Manitoba Museum this summer. The exhibit – From Manila to Manitoba – was opened on June 18th and will run till September. (Please read the related story about the exhibit launch and the photo gallery.)

We, the Pilipino Express, have given our full support to this project, which was spearheaded by our youth columnists, the members of Aksyon ng Ating Kabataan (ANAK) Inc. It was a very ambitious project to start with and we salute ANAK for their hard work, resourcefulness and focus, which made this dream project a reality.

While these young people found some benefactors to support their project, they did this on their own. They did not succumb to petty intrigues from fellow Filipinos who showed their talangka (crab) mentality early on, and they are not going to bow to that same talangka mentality now.

Like any typical young adult, each of the ANAK members has other important matters to attend to – school homework, jobs, and their own personal challenges – but as a group, they were able to muster the strength to get this exhibit established. We are very proud of them and what they have accomplished.

Those who were present at the exhibit’s opening were in awe of the magnitude of the project. We were there from the beginning to the end of the gala event and we heard very positive comments from the many guests. They were very appreciative of what these young Filipino-Canadians did to honour our community. Some even asked the question, “Bakit walang naka-isip na gawin ito noong araw pa?” [How come no one thought of doing this before?]

It is a must-see not only for Filipino immigrants and their families, but also for other Canadians, whether they are immigrants or not. Whether one is a first generation or second generation Filipino-Canadian, the work ANAK did for this exhibit can give one a good understanding of our own community here in Manitoba.

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