By: Isabel Buenaobra
On August 19, the UP Alumni & Associates in Manitoba (UPAA-MB) held Palarolympics in the Assiniboine Park. About thirty members and their families came to the sports festival which included games such as tumbang preso, sipa, Chinese garter, agawang base, and sack race. A picnic laid out in the park, as well as board games and sungka were made available to alumni and their family members.
The UPAA-MB began in 2007 as an informal online chat among UP graduates. In 2012, the association became formal and was incorporated to have the following objectives: To promote camaraderie and cooperation among members in a way that upholds the ideals of the University of the Philippines: honour, excellence, leadership and holistic human development; To engage with Filipino and other organizations in various initiatives that promote cultural diversity, social unity and cooperation; To assist members and the Filipino community, in Manitoba and in the Philippines, in improving opportunities for education and training that will help develop their full potential; and To give due recognition to alumni and other individuals of Filipino heritage for their exemplary achievements and contributions to the Manitoba community.
Current UPAA-MB Chair Lourdes “Des” Casañares, mentioned that since its formalization in 2012, the association has assisted members get their professional certifications; linked volunteers with social causes such as the Siloam Mission (focused on people experiencing homelessness and poverty) and Winnipeg Harvest (not-for-profit food distribution and training centre); organized fundraising events to support victims of disasters (such as Yolanda victims in 2013); provided bursaries/scholarships to deserving UP students back home; undertaken seminars on entrepreneurship and starting a business; organized sports festivals, picnics, and sponsor-a-new-immigrant family with food hampers around Christmas.
The UPAA-MB has currently 170 listed members. For 2017-2018, its board of directors includes the following: Lourdes Casañares (Chairperson), Jennifer Merin (Secretary), Danjae Medina (Treasurer), Jeremy Malana (Membership Committee Head), Norman Aceron Garcia (Fundraising Committee Head), Darren Gonzales (Social Responsibility Committee Head), and Edwin Madera (Information and Communication Committee Head).
Des hopes its members this year to support the plans for 2017-2018 which include the following: fundraising events for scholarships for UP students; promotion of sustainable small scale agriculture and introducing floriculture; discussions on cross cultural learnings; picnics and social activities to provide that sense of belonging to Filipino newcomers and immigrants; seminars to assist newcomers to integrate in the workplace; and networking for employment and volunteering opportunities.
On the Saturday morning of Palarolympics, while some members cajoled each other over the scores, others huddled, comforted one another and said, “Kumusta na? Kung kelangan mo ng kausap, andito lang kami.” And that’s what the school spirit and associations are all about. Being there when you’re needed the most.