KF’s People to Watch

KF’s People to Watch

by Kathleen Cerrer

Andrea Tiopo, 27
Realtor at Royal LePage and
Co-Founder of TableSpace
Real Estate Professional and Entrepreneur

I am a Real Estate Agent with Royal LePage, as well as the co-owner of Winnipeg’s newest co-working space called TableSpace. TableSpace is a place for entrepreneurs, small businesses and professionals who are seeking out a space to reach their goals and connect with like-minded individuals. Aside from being passionate about my work, I also love travelling, staying active and doing things to give back to the community. Each year, I have been doing more to be involved in any way I can, whether it be donating to a local charity, reading to students for I Love To Read Month or volunteering.

What excites me the most about what I do?
I help buyers and sellers with one of the biggest transactions of their life, and make it a smooth and memorable one. I also love providing people with a space to feel inspired and to connect with other like-minded individuals. Both industries are very fulfilling as I help to make a difference in someone’s life.

What impact have I witnessed from my work?
Being an agent for five years, I have helped more than a hundred families in buying or selling a home. The biggest impact I have witnessed is that I guide my clients in making the right decision in one of their biggest transactions in their life. My clients appreciate my honesty and drive to help them make the right decision. For TableSpace, I’ve helped fellow entrepreneurs, business owners, remote workers and freelancers by providing
them with a place to work and to connect with other people in the community. The biggest impact with TableSpace, is that we have been able to create a community where people feel like they are part of something, and that they aren’t alone in their entrepreneurial journey.

Tell us a story about an obstacle you faced and conquered?
In the early stages of TableSpace, my business partner Rachel and I thought we had found the perfect place for what we envisioned as TableSpace. We started making plans about how the space would look, and got fixed on an idea before we even had a lease in place. After weeks of back and forth with the landlord, we were disappointed and couldn’t come to an agreement for the lease as it out of our budget. We were disappointed, which led us to stop looking at places for a few weeks after that. A few weeks later, we got back on our feet and started looking at spaces, and found what is now TableSpace. Moral of the story is to “never let the deal be greater than the opportunity”. We could have easily put ourselves in a situation where we may not have been able to afford it financially because we were so fixed on an idea, but we moved past it and found what is now TableSpace and it couldn’t be any more perfect.

Photo courtesy of Goldie Garcia

by Karla Atanacio

Nerissa Mabel Garcia
Production chair of Magdaragat Philippines
Pearl of the Orient Philippine Pavillion’s entertainment chairperson at Folklorama

Nerissa Mabel Garcia, known commonly in the community as Goldie, is a woman who has been instrumental in the promotion and preservation of Philippine culture in Manitoba for many years. Goldie is the production chair of Magdaragat Philippines and serves as the Pearl of the Orient Philippine Pavillion’s entertainment chairperson at Folklorama. As a child, she watched her parents build camaraderie with other Filipino immigrants through folk songs, dances, and theatre performances at Magdaragat. She officially joined the organization in 1984, when she was just 7 years old. “In Magdaragat, we were taught by the older members of the group. The intention was to pass down what you have learned to the younger generation,” she said. Now at 42, Goldie has taken the group to new heights.
With her and Gil Buenaventura’s direction, Magdaragat has taken off to become an internationally-recognized dance company composed of hundreds of volunteers in the community. The group has been invited to perform in various festivals around the world, such as in Mexico, Peru, the United States, and Chile. On weekdays, Goldie is a dedicated early childhood educator at Carpathia Children’s Centre Inc. She says that Magdaragat has fostered her love and passion for teaching kids. “I like to joke around that I’m surrounded by children 6 days of the week. I work from Monday to Friday then have Magdaragat on Sunday. Saturday is my day off, unless I have a family gathering. I do not have children of my own, so I always refer to my Mag kids and work kids as my own.”

What excites you most about what you do?
Magdaragat is one of my passions. As part of Magdaragat, I’m fulfilling its mandate of propagating, preserving, and showing the positive aspect of Filipino culture and heritage.

I’m excited that the younger children are interested in dancing, culture, and friendships. When I noticed an interest in the really young children, I decided to change the starting age of Magdaragat from 7 to 5 years old. It’s a lot of work but at the end of the year when you see their smiles and how happy their family is, you know it was worth it!

In addition to folk dancing, we started teaching kids about their Filipino heritage. I implemented a program called “Show n’ Tell” where they find something from their home that is “Filipino” to them. Some have come back and brought one of their parents, a picture of grandparents, a rosary, a shell from the Philippines, and even a tabo! We have also brought in other Filipino groups to conduct workshops with them like Sikaran Arnis and ANAK.

What impact have you witnessed from your work?
In the past 24 years, there have been many members who have come and gone. There have been many members who have joined me on the production team. The kids I used to teach are now on the production team with me. Other members who I used to dance with or teach are now bringing their children to the group to learn their culture. The one constant is that we still teach other what we have learned in the past in order for our culture to be passed on to the next generation. It’s about giving back and paying it forward.