Ambassador Gatan Leads Philippine Mission to the Canadian Prairies

Ambassador Gatan Leads Philippine Mission to the Canadian Prairies

Philippine Ambassador Leslie B. Gatan received the friendliest and highest of welcomes in the Canadian prairies provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan as he led an Economic Diplomacy and Consular Mission from 18 to 26 May 2012, comprised by officials and personnel of the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa and the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto. The mission served to further economic and social linkages between the Philippines and the Canadian Prairies.

“Friendly Manitoba”
In Winnipeg, true to the fond provincial moniker, the highest officials of the province gave a true “Friendly Manitoba” welcome to the Ambassador and his delegation comprised by Jesusa Susana Paez, Acting Consul General of the Philippine Consulate in Toronto, Eric Gerardo Tamayo, First Secretary and Consul at the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa, and Francisco Luna, Philippine Labor Attache based in Toronto.

The Ambassador and his party called and met on separate occasions with the Hon. Greg Selinger, Premier of Manitoba, the Hon. Phillip S. Lee, Lieutenant Governor, the Hon. Darryl Reid, Speaker of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly, the Hon. Cristine Melnick, Immigration Minister, Hon. Flor Marcelino, Minister for Culture, Heritage and Tourism, the Hon. Ted Marcelino, member of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly, and Mr. Hugh Eliasson, Deputy Minister for Entrepreneurship, Training and Trade.

Manitoba has established itself as the leading Canadian territory that has actively sought and integrated Filipino migrants and temporary workers into Canada, which has in turn facilitated the elevation of economic stature of the province in the country. Over 70,000 Filipinos have settled in Manitoba over past few years under a model labor agreement between the Philippines and the province of Manitoba.

The Hon. Selinger said Filipinos “have been nothing but a positive development” for the province for the last 50 years. Mr. Selinger remarked as to the extent of how the Filipinos’ passion for basketball has replaced games, such as baseball, in various sports and civic events in the province. According to the Premier, in any basketball game, the tall Canadians are simply no match to the quick Filipinos who have now come to call Canada their home away from home.

While in Winnipeg, Ambassador Gatan and his party visited the facilities of Boeing Canada, and met with officials of Red River College and the University of Manitoba. The team also visited the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals. The Ambassador also held talks with Mr. Graham Starmer, President of the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce, who have assurances of support for facilitating business partnerships between Filipino and Canadian enterprises.

The Filipino community in turn also gave the visiting delegation a warm “Friendly Manitoba” welcome, with a Filipino twist, which began at the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport and culminated in a meet and greet event at the Philippine-Canadian Center of Manitoba (PCCM). The delegations visit and mission was also facilitated with the help of various community leaders in Minnipeg. Acting Consul General Paez led a consular team from Toronto in provide consular services to the Filipino community in Winnipeg from 18 to 21 May 2012.

“Land of the Living Skies”
Ambassador Gatan and his delegation proceeded to the city of Saskatoon, where the infinite expanse of the terrain proved as dynamic as the vibrant hues, colors and character of the Saskatchewan sky.

While in Saskatoon, the Ambassador and his party were joined by the distinguished Fil-Canadian citizen of Saskatoon, the Hon. Carlos Maningas, who is also the Honorary Consul General of the Philippines in Saskatoon, and Fay Vargas of the Filipino-Canadian Association of Saskatoon.

On the invitation of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Saskatoon, Ambassador Gatan addressed the Chamber members as he highlighted the positive developments, the challenges and the inherent advantages of the Philippines as he stressed that Filipinos and Canadian are natural social, business and economic partners owing to their shared value systems.

Mr. Ken Ziegler, Business consultant and partner at the GPC Capital Corporation, who moderated the open forum with the Chamber, also provided a compelling testimonial at expanding commercial and business ties between Canadian and Philippines companies. Mr. Ziegler exhorted his colleagues to look at the Philippines, not just as a source of migrants and laborers, but also as potential savvy business partners in a global economic environment.

The delegation met with his Worship Mayor Donald J. Atchison, who also praised the influx of Filipinos as giving new life to Saskatoon, and remarked at how the social landscape of Saskatoon has been transformed.

Ambassador Gatan and his party were also warmly received by officials and Filipinos in management and skilled work force of the various manufacturing facilities they visited in Saskatoon, such as Standard Machines, a manufacturer of industrial gears, and Case New Holland, makers of agricultural machinery and equipment owned by Fiat of Italy.

The group also visited the facilities of the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada’s national synchrotron research facility, which is also the sole particle collider operational in Canada.

The University of Saskatchewan itself, organized a warm welcome for the Ambassador and his delegation, during a meeting with the various heads of the agriculture, food, engineering, nursing, law and international programs department of the university.

Ambassador Gatan and his entourage also visited the Saskatoon Business College, a 100 year old business scho0ol in Saskatoon and the Ambassador interacted with college students, including Filipinos students, training in care giving.

The Ambassador met with the Filipino community is Saskatoon. Saskatoon Mayor Atchison joined the Ambassador during the meet and greet affair. Filipino community leaders expressed their broad support to the Embassy and consulates represented in the city on issues ranging from the Scarborough Shoal, the political process underway in the Philippines, absentee voting and dual citizenship.

On their part, the Ambassador and his party welcomed various suggestions at improving the provision of consular services to Filipinos in the prairies.