20 Filipinos to Watch

by Karla Atanacio

Judianne Jayme Dhabba

As an educator, blogger, mentor, and innovator, Judianne Jayme Dhabba has worn many hats in her life. The daughter of Filipino immigrants, she grew up in a Filipino-Canadian community that fostered her passion for helping others. She found her calling at Winnipeg School Division, where she served as a teacher for seven years. She has recently taken up a professional support role within the Division in February. Outside of teaching, Judianne is best known as the founder of judimeetsworld.com and Dalagita Winnipeg.
Judianne takes pride in creating opportunities for herself and others. In 2015, she combined her love of writing and travel by creating judymeetsworld.com, a blog dedicated to documenting her journey around the world. The following year, Judianne founded a public speaking and leadership program for young Filipinas in Winnipeg called Dalagita Winnipeg. “ I created [Dalagita] as a way for young women to learn to use their voices, that their ideas matter, and that you can create a sisterhood of encouragement and support for one another,” she said.

What excites you most about what you do?
For the young women I work in through Dalagita, I get to be a part of their journeys as they become immersed in community, school and personal projects. I love that potential that this future generation can bring, in their ways, and on their terms, and I love being an early guide to help them find the power behind their ideas and voices, and encourage them to take action.

For the blog, it thrills me when people tell me that they took my advice on a destination, or they are getting hit with a sense of wanderlust to explore more on their own as a solo traveler, or to visit a place they’ve never been before.

What impact have you witnessed from your work?
I am so proud of my Dalagitas. A few examples: one of my first group of girls is currently the President-Elect of the University of Manitoba Student Union. Another girl created her own fundraiser to bring school supplies to improve the situation of a school in her hometown in the Philippines. Another Dalagita has been opening shows with her singing talent, and another has gone on to represent Manitoba nationally for Miss Teen Canada. These are all phenomenal young women, and I have loved being their Ate to come to for advice or questions. There are also countless young women who are not official Dalagitas, but have approached me as a “go to” resource for encouragement when they’re about to do something bigger than they ever dreamed of – and that solidifies who I try to be for this generation.

As for JudiMeetsWorld, I have used the space in many ways. I believe that if you’re given a platform, use it for good. It currently has a section for Home School Resources during this time of suspended classes, and I am receiving a lot of feedback from educators and families alike of how this is helping them cope with these changes.

Tell us a story about an obstacle you faced and conquered.
One of my biggest obstacles was just creating Dalagita. It hadn’t been done before. People thought it was a beauty contest (it’s not). I was receiving feedback like “But people won’t get it,” or “It won’t work.” There were people who certainly laughed at the idea of a public speaking program, questioning why would any young person care about this type of growth. It was disheartening.

I knew that the purpose of Dalagita (empowering young women, developing young leaders in our community, and building sisterhood) was beyond my own fears. I learned to be resilient, and to find the right people who understood what I was doing. While I do have a wide range now of people who support the program, I must acknowledge that the very start, the supporters were primarily women who, like me, wished this program was around when they were younger too. That, in itself, was the biggest encouragement to help me conquer my own fears of failing and to show up, and make it happen. Isn’t that what sisterhood is all about? Now we are able to teach and learn beyond our little group of young women. Our Master Classes are open to all ages, ethnicities and genders to grow in their learning alongside us.

Kevin Solis

After high school, Kevin Solis had a concrete plan to go college and get a traditional high-paying job – but his mom convinced him not to.
Instead, she asked Kevin to follow his passions and find a fulfilling career he would love. From there, he moved to a different city and studied filmmaking.
Today, at the young age of 22, he is a well-known Winnipeg filmmaker and music producer, best known for his music videos and work with Refresh. His personal Youtube channel where he shares his passion and work has nearly 140K subscribers and his most popular video on his channel has over 26 million views.

Tell us about yourself (personal, business, and passions).
My name is Kevin Solis. I was born and raised in Winnipeg. I currently work as an Assistant Editor for my full time job and on the side I film and edit music videos for local artists. In my spare time, I produce hip-hop/rap beats.

What excites you most about what you do?
What excites me the most about my profession is that I can inspire or have an impact on people.

What impact have you witnessed from your work?
Since I post most of my content on social media, I receive many reactions from different people. Some are from upcoming videographers who ask me for advice on how I did a particular effect or how I shot a scene. Others are reactions by people in my community and how my film impacted them. With my profession, I find it really cool that I can inspire someone I’ve never met before.

Tell us a story about an obstacle you faced and conquered.

My parents immigrated to Canada for a better life and never got anything they wanted. Times were hard for them so they didn’t get the chance to explore their passions. That being said, it wasn’t easy choosing my career since I wanted to make them proud. Filmmaking is usually looked down upon as a career choice and just seen as a hobby since it’s not guaranteed you’ll make money from it. So I crossed out that career choice at that time in my life.

After graduating from high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. My mom saved most of her income so I can further my education, and I didn’t want that to go to waste. I decided that I’ll just study a college course that will give me a high paying job. But my mom didn’t want me to go through what she’s been through, so she told me to study what I was most passionate about and to not do it just for the money. That’s when I figured that I wanted to make my filmmaking hobby into a career.

The next few years were tough. I moved to a new city for school. There were many sleepless nights of filming and editing, but what was satisfying about the whole process were all the creative projects I’ve worked on and new friends I’ve met along the way. I still have a long way to go, but I can say that I’ve made my parents proud.