By: Cherry Vitalicio
More than 600 newcomers from the Philippines, Syria and China were warmly welcomed at the recent Holiday Gathering with Newcomers initiated by Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba Inc. held at Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute last Sunday December 10 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“This event started in 2005 as Welcome to Bagong Dating welcoming new Filipino immigrants to Manitoba. We held it every year since, in June as part of our Philippine Heritage Week Celebration. In 2016, we decided to have the Holiday Gathering, opening our arms to all newcomers regardless of country of origin. It was a successful one knowing that we have made newcomers feel good and welcomed in Winnipeg.” said Perla Javate, president of Philippine Heritage Council of MB Inc (PHCM) president Perla Javate.
She also shared that “PHCM has as one of its goals to share our Philippine culture to our mainstream and multicultural community in Manitoba. This gathering is an outreach to newcomers of all cultures to share our food and our blessings.
Starting our new immigrants in an accepting and welcoming way will help ensure a positive transition to their new adopted community and country.”
The well-attended affair was in partnership with Pinays MB, Toy Mountain (Salvation Army), Norwest Coop Community Health, Aurora Family Therapy Centre, and Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute.
The festive event kicked off with a Zumba dance number by Aireen Miaral, Vi Bermudes, Tres Marias and the Zwaggers JLS. Then singer Paul Ong serenaded the crowd with Christmas songs. Everyone enjoyed a sumptuous vegetarian meal which included pancit, samosa, spring roll and baklava dessert. The children were served with chicken, cookies, chips and tetra pack juices.
“This kind of event makes newcomers feel welcomed in their new home,” stated Roselyn Advincula, one of the event organizers and Pinays MB volunteer.
She added “This gives them the opportunity to meet newcomers like them, learn new information and feel a sense of belonging. It helps in their adjustment and integration. “
Indeed, it was an afternoon of heartfelt pleasantries, warm hugs and meeting fellow newcomers.
Cathay Dong noted “It was a nice event. Thanks to this event we felt the warmth of winter.”
“I’m glad we came, the kids loved it! They’re already asking if we could come next year,” remarked Jessica Gambalan.
Sheila Redublo said “I am truly proud of this community that continues to help one another. It was a success and your event surely helped newcomers feel the warmth of season.”
Over a hundred new blankets from generous sponsors were raffled off to attendees. And each child below 12 years old was given a toy. Some also had the chance to bring home pre-loved winter garments and dinnerware like plates and bowls.
Aside from receiving nicely wrapped gifts, the children had a great afternoon with all the fun activities organized for them.
These include: games, face painting and glitter tattoo, balloon twisting and mascot appearances like KFC’s Chuckie, Pikachu and Hello Kitty. The photo booth area was also a hit for all the guests. There was even a special meet and greet with Santa and his Elf.
Various booths were also setup at the venue. These were: Bell MTS, English Online, Immigrant Women’s Counselling, Independent Living Resource Centre, Landmhel Real Estate Inc., Mosaic Event Centre, New Journey Housing, Royal Bank of Canada, Red Cross, Seed Winnipeg and Sunlife Financial.
The successful get-together was sponsored by Scotia Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, Mosaic Event Centre, Sobey’s Safeway, Vickar Automotive Group and Young’s Ethnic Market. Other sponsors include Raymond Zablan, Rizalina Cortez, Fun Shots Photo Booth, KFC, Rhiz Aco, Good Deal Balloons, Gina Gabriel, Gelyn’s Cake & Wedding Lounge, Wish Upon A Cake, Pintoora, Sulat Kamay Foundation and Heavenly Party Needs.