A new video series which aims to connect with kababayan community figures across Canada premiered recently on social media. The Barangay Canada video podcast or ’vodcast’ launched April 21 on Facebook and featured multi-awarded community leader Perla Javate, president of the Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba (PHCM), as its initial guest. Hosted by this writer, the vodcast went live at 8:00 pm central and was beset with audio issues. The episode was later posted as a recorded interview.
Barangay Canada is a media project that reaches out to the various kababayan communities across the country to learn and share their different experiences as they build a life in Canada. This column is the project’s print media presence in this province. With the pandemic-influenced restrictions on non-essential travel and physical proximity, the project shifted to the podcast format and added a video aspect to visually engage its audience.
In the premiere episode, Javate spoke about her organization and the typical celebrations scheduled for the National Filipino Heritage Month in June. Although she announced the cancellation of those events, she also hinted about plans for an alternative celebration which would be “virtual in nature”. She stopped short of adding details to avoid spoiling the surprise.
Javate also provided insights about the pandemic’s impact on the community, and the emergence of heroic frontliners, many of whom are kababayans. She expressed optimism about the future of Manitoba’s Filipino community after getting to know the organizers and participants of Kultivation Festival which showcased up-and-coming Manitobans of Filipino descent. For her parting message, Tita Perla – as she is affectionately known in the community — reminded kababayans burdened by anxiety from the pandemic that, “Together we can overcome this. Together we can become stronger.”
The second episode of the vodcast featured Eusebio ‘Jun’ Cacayuran, Jr., president of the Filipino Organization in the Rocky Mountains (FORM) based in Banff, AB. Cacayuran recounted how their area has been greatly affected by the pandemic when tourist arrivals ground to a halt, resulting in mass layoffs. Since then, his group has been busily helping out in the community handing out free food packs to whoever needs them. Cacayuran acknowledged the generosity of local businesses and individuals for donating foodstuffs which he and his volunteers then repacked and prepared for contactless pick-up at a designated location. An active community leader even before he and his family settled in Canada in 2013, Cacayuran and his group is currently soliciting donations to assist the affected workers of the Cargill meat processing plant in High River where the largest single-site outbreak of the novel coronavirus was reported.
Narima Dela Cruz, one of RBC’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrants in 2012, was the guest on the third episode on April 28. Previously a resident of Winnipeg, she and her family have since re-settled in Surrey, BC where she established and continues to preside over the Surrey Philippine Independence Day Society or SPIDS. Dela Cruz shared about SPIDS’ many achievements over the years and their recurring activities. For their dedication and commitment in serving their community, both Dela Cruz and SPIDS earned accolades as Pinoy of the Year and Most Influential Community Organization at the 2019 Golden Balangay Awards, the annual nationwide search for outstanding Filipinos and kababayan groups in Canada.