Manitoba Filipino Journal 2020 Year in Review

To say that 2020 was quite the year would be an understatement. Everyone’s life forever changed in March when the World Health Organization announced a global pandemic due to COVID-19. Since then, we’ve all had to change and adapt to so many new normals – lockdowns, social distancing, virtual conferencing.

The stories also changed and we’ve had to adapt. There were no more events, no more gatherings and those have always been stories and events we have covered in the past. While the stories have changed, our focus has always been on the community we serve.

Here’s a look back at the front page stories and images from 2020. Thank you for your continued support and readership.


JANUARY 5-20, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 01
Seven kababayans made it to Ace Burpee’s 150 Fascinating Manitobans 2019: The Manitoba 150 Edition. Every year, Virgin Radio’s broadcaster Ace Burpee selects 100 Manitobans than have made an impact on the community through their talent, volunteerism and advocacy.

“I’ve been making a list of fascinating Manitobans for a decade now. I’ve always done 100, but this year I had too many to fit in and also wanted to highlight some from previous years. So… in honour of the province’s 150th anniversary next year, here’s the Manitoba 150 edition of my annual list,” Burpee shared.

Last December 20, Ace Burpee revealed the list which included the following amazing members of our community :PBA president Manny Aranez, MFSF former Chair Aida Champagne, 204 Neighbourhood Watch founder Leila Castro, Councilor Vivian Santos, singer and actress Andrea Macasaet, baking competition champ Calia Pacle and scholar Mia Battad.


JANUARY 20-FEBRUARY 5, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 02
Hours after the news on the Taal Volcano eruption reached Manitoba last January 12, different groups started to organize fundraising events and launched relief initiatives.

One of the organizations that set up a fund drive was the Talisay Association of Manitoba (TAM) whose members have families directly affected by the volcanic eruption. Talisay, which is bordered in the south by Taal Lake, was seriously affected. Within the day that Taal Volcano started spewing ash and alert level raised to 4, 95% of Talisay residents were evacuated.

Seeing the need of their folks back home, the members of TAM immediately responded through a fund drive that they ran from January 15 -19 at the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba.

Photo by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal


FEBRUARY 5-20, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 03
Jomar Sarmiento is one of the avid anglers who enjoys the long ice-fishing season in Manitoba. But Last February 1st, he was up for a different fishing experience. He drove 2 hours from Winnipeg and headed east to Ontario to hunt for trophy lake trout which he obviously ended up catching, making the trip all worth it.

Sarmiento is a Pro Staff member of the Eskimo Ice Fishing Gear and said that the experience was a change from the local Manitoba walleye that he has been taking his clients out for on guiding excursions. Going further and aiming for a bigger catch meant changing some fishing techniques too. He had geared up for a trip to this hotspot in Ptarmigan Bay, Lake of the Woods, that was off the main ice road on the lake approximately 45-60 feet deep and he used heavier duty equipment for the much-anticipated catch.

With the vast fishing destinations that are accessible during the long winter season, Sarmiento, who is also the newly-elected vice-president of the Filipino Anglers Association of Manitoba (FAAM), recommends that “to anyone who loves the fight of the walleye, take the challenge and head east to Ontario and try your luck with lake trout!!”

Photo courtesy of Jomar Sarmiento



FEBRUARY 20 – MARCH 5, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 04
Every year, an average of 95,000 people from around the world visit Festival du Voyageur, Western Canada’s largest winter festival. People gather at the French neighbourhood, Saint Boniface, to experience traditional French-Canadian food, music and heritage.

Each year, there are always the regular and the first-time visitors. For the Baquiran family, sisters Antoinette and Marjorie came for the first time while their mom Nena first attended the festival 2 decades ago.

One of the activities that they looked forward to was to try the traditional-rolled maple taffy on snow. And they said that it did not disappoint, making the visit worth it and the experience as sweet as the taffy.

Photo by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal


MARCH 5 – 20, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 05
Kultivation Festival is a grassroots project spearheaded by first and second generation Filipino-Canadian composed of restaurateurs, architects, marketers and designers. It’s goal is to celebrate and promote the modern Filipino culture in Manitoba through F.A.M.D. – food, art, music and dance.

The festival is also a way of saying thank you to the parents of the current generation who have made enourmous sacrifices since they came to Canada in the ’60s to provide for and enable this generation and the next to live out their dreams and passion.

Happening on June 20-21 , 2020 in Winnipeg’s Exchange District, Kultivation Festival will officially launch on March 6-21 at Garden City Shopping Centre through a collaboration with CBC Manitoba’s pop-up bureau where everybody is welcome to witness, share story and engage in various activities organized by the local Filipino influencers.

Photo courtesy of Del Pelagio, Mike Talastas, and Amanda Blanco


MARCH 20 – April 5, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 06
Before Kultivation Festival’s launch was cut short last March 13 due to COVID -19 pandemic, a VIP night and a series of events at My Garden City, in partnership with CBC Manitoba’s pop-up bureau, successfully kicked off this grassroots project that everybody is now looking forward to witnessing as the newest summer event in the community.

Last March 5th, Kultivation Festival, co-chaired by Elizabeth Cron, AllanPineda and Joseph Orobia formally introduced the project to the community through a VIP Night which was graced by community leaders, influencers, media and event partners. Four more events namely Kultivation Makers Market, The Pogi Project Podcast Live, Wellness Expo and Skratcher Winnipeg DJ Workshop featuring kababayan who excel in their business or endeavours, were held, championing the modern pinoy community.

Photo by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal

Staying Connected during COVID-19

APRIL 5 – 20, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 07
While practicing social distancing , connecting with friends and families is very important these days. There are so many ways where we can connect – either by phone, text messaging, social media, and if you are more tech savvy, there are a lot of available APPS.

The more creative you are, the more that you can maintain interesting conversations with different people. According to the guidelines on mental health and psychosocial considerations during COVID-19 outbreak, released by the World Health Organization, people can also connect by checking on neighbours or people in the community who may need some extra assistance. Working together as one community can help create solidarity in addressing COVID-19 together.

Virtual group workout, party, games and even group reflection or bible study are just few of the activities we can do when we connect.

In this photo, the Filipino Journal checks on families, friends and colleagues through ZOOM. Let us connect with our loved ones because our relationships and our expression of love and concern should not be in quarantine.

Photo by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal


APRIL 20 – MAY 5, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 08
Frontliners at St. Boniface General Hospital asking to do our part by staying home while they battle against COVID-19

Top (L-R) Michelle Z., Celine O., Andrew J., Jose A., Margaret A., Kendall H.; Bottom (L-R) Jillian C., Jason P., Jane S., Amanda G., Wendy D

Photo courtesy of Jane Sarte

Re-opening in Style

MAY 5-20, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 09
Last April 29, Premier Brian Pallister unveiled the multi-phase approach of restoring services in Manitoba. In a news conference, he said that it is critical to note the timing and specifics noted in each phase are subject to change, based on the advice of public health experts and a continuous assessment of transmission patterns and other factors.

Phase one has already started last May 4 which includes priority elective surgeries, diagnostic screening and re-opening of non-essential businesses where critical public health measures and travel restrictions remain.

Included in the non-essential services that were permitted to open was hair salons.

“We jumped for joy! We were excited!” This was the reaction of Donna Lacdao and her family after knowing that they could finally re-open their family-owned salon business, Donna D Stylist Salon, located on Arlington St.

Lacdao shared that their business was hard hit financially following the enforced shutdown of non-essential businesses last April 1. Right now, though they have to adjust to the new normal, they are content that they are once again open for business.

Photo by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal


MAY 20 – JUNE 5, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 10
While critical public health measures remain, many spent their May long weekend outdoors, commemorating Victoria Day. For some, with travel restrictions still enforced in the province, there’s no better place to celebrate and enjoy the good weather than the parks like Kildonan Park which itself opened on Victoria Day in 1911.

In one of the picnic tables was a group called Bingo for Life. “We are not here to play bingo but to get together with friends whom we have not seen in a long while due to the pandemic.” They added that this is the first time that they are going to meet up in person again after weeks of staying home to keep safe from COVID -19.

The group said that they are aware of the rules and that they are taking extra precautions as most of them are seniors who are vulnerable to catching the virus. “We made sure that we all wear mask and observe social distancing and in as much as we wanted to invite more friends, we’ve limited our group to less than ten people.”

Photo by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal

June is Filipino Heritage Month

JUNE 5-20, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 11
Mabuhay! June is Filipino Heritage Month and on June 12, Filipino communities across the world will celebrate 122nd Philippine Independence Day. Due to COVID19, many events, festivals and celebrations have been scaled down, postponed and cancelled.

2019 was the first year Filipino Heritage Month was celebrated across Canada. In Winnipeg, June was shaping up to be an extremely busy month full of celebrations, parades and festivals. The Manitoba Filipino Street Festival, Philippine Heritage Week, Food Trip and the inaugural Kultivation Festival are among the popular events that have been cancelled.

Photo by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal

122nd Year of Philippine Independence

JUNE 20 – JULY 5, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 12
The Manitoba Filipino Street Festival celebrated its eight-year along with the 122nd Anniversary of Philippine Independence last June 13, 2020, at the Maples Multiplex grounds.

Far from how the biggest Manitoba Filipino festival is celebrated annually, MFSF was held in strict compliance with the government’s protocols against COVID-19 spread. The attendance was limited to 50 people which comprised the organizers, selected guests, associations and supporters of the festival. The social distancing of 2 meters apart was also closely observed.

MFSF 2020 was slated to kick off on this exact day of June 13th, but instead of the vibrant parade and entertainment showcasing the rich culture of the Philippines, organizers shifted it to a simple post-Independence Celebration following the actual June 12 Independence Day where Filipinos across the word commemorate its 122nd year of freedom from Spanish colonization.

Lead organizer, Ley Navarro, said in his speech, “Kaya rin natin sine-celebrate ang flag-raising ngayon eh sabi nga ni Jose Rizal: Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan, hindi makakarating sa parooonan,” baka madapa. Lahat tayo ay nagpapasalamat sa ating Inang Bayan dahil kung hindi rin dahil sa kanya, wala rin tayo dito sa Canda.”

The ceremony highlighted the singing of the Philippine National Anthem, recitation of Panatang Makabayan or Patriotic Oath led by Ernesto Ofiaza Jr and the singing of Ako ay Pilipino (I Am a Filipino) led by Azel Navarro.

Photo courtesy of John Lopez Photography


JULY 5 – 20, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 13
July 1, 2020 marked the 153rd Canada Day and probably the most unconventional way we have celebrated it.

In light of COVID-19, the annual big celebrations were either cancelled or shifted to virtual celebrations.

At the Forks, where 30,000-40,000 people gather during Canada Day, shows and on-site fireworks were cancelled. It was a steady early afternoon when the Filipino Journal visited, with significantly less people just hanging out and enjoying the favorable weather.

The Fernandez family was among the Winnipeggers who decided to spend the day, go for a walk and eat breakfast at the Forks. And in keeping the spirit of the celebration, they wore matching shirts and an accessory that they never wore on Canada Day…facial masks!

“Nakakapanibago. We’re not used to this but it’s okay. We hope this will be over soon,” said Serafin Fernandez.

Photo by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal

Berry Good Times

JULY 20 – AUGUST 5, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 14
Berry picking has been a summer tradition among Manitobans including kababayans who just love bonding with family and friends outdoors.

Back in May, farmers have expressed uncertainties on how the picking season would go this year given the COVID-19 pandemic, but they remained cautiously optimistic. After most berry farms opened their doors to pickers in mid-June, the picking season is now nearing its end.

A visit on the final stretch of the season to Cormier Berry Patch in La Salle, Manitoba on July 19 on an early rainy morning was actually a surprise. Twenty minutes after the farm opened at 8 am, a number of vehicles were already parked with around 20 more lined up to get in. Visitors also started picking berries at their designated rows.

“We actually had the same number of visitors as previous years. What was different was they all showed up earlier in the day rather than spread out throughout the day like in the past years,” owner Angie Cormier said.

Among the pickers that day were twin sisters and first time pickers, Jeree and Jelee Lagac who said that they felt safer doing an activity in an open space and far from other people, not worrying too much about catching the virus.

Photo by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal


AUGUST 5 – 20, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 15
The 2-million worth campaign that Travel Manitoba released this summer encourages Manitobans to check out their own province, calling the advocacy “Home is Where the Heart is.”

“Having done the hard work necessary to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases, Manitobans now have a great opportunity to safely explore their own province this summer,” said Ralph Eichler, Manitoba’s minister of Economic Development and Training, in a news release.

Videos of the campaign that were already digitally released focus on camping, fishing road trips, local dining and places like Churchill, also featuring local residents inviting the audience to explore and show Manitoba some love this summer.

There is no doubt that the campaign resonated to a lot of Manitobans including the Ege family who were among the many visitors at Birds Hill Provincial Park last August long weekend.

“We are here for the day to bike, to explore and just have a great time as a family.” said mother Mary Joy Ege.

Photo by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal


AUGUST 20 – SEPTEMBER 5, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 16
Members of the Filipino Amateur Mountain Bikers (FAMB) taking a break as they ride through biking trails at Birds Hill Provincial Park.

Nestled among the forests and hiking trails found throughout the park, “Little Baguio” is a tree lined gravel pit where FAMB members have come together for a common passion. Over 40 mountain bikers were out at Birds Hill last week enjoying the outdoors, camaraderie and thrill of biking, especially for newbies.

The trail is not officially on any provincial park map and the biking group have aptly nicknamed the area after Bagiuo, a city in the mountinous Northern Luzon region of the Philippines.
On any given day (or night), members of FAMB are taking to the bike trails all across Manitoba. Follow and join their Facebook group for all upcoming rides.

Photo by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal

Bowling For Burgers

SEPTEMBER 5 – 20, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 17
Le Burger Week 2020 is on! Two Filipino-inspired burgers are on the over 100 burger list to try.

Uptown Alley on St Matthews is offering The Asian Style Beef Tapa Burger created by Filipino Chef Ben Fernandez while Moxie’s Polo Park features Ube-by (Ooh Baby) Burger highlighting the purple ube bun.

Le Burger Week runs September 1-7. So, if you are craving burgers, this is the perfect time to get your craving satisfied. Photo courtesy of Uptown Alley

Bountiful Harvest at Masagana Flower Farm

SEPT 20 – OCT 5, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 18
While many of us got engrossed in “pandemic gardening” while being stuck at home, a kababayan in La Broquerie, Manitoba had an entire flower farm to cultivate during the summer season.
Lourdes Casañares-Still is a flower grower in Southeast Manitoba who is also the founder and co-owner of Masagana Flower Farm and Studio, a seasonal fresh cut flower farm presenting its clients and guests with freshly harvested, local blooms so that they can live a flower-filled life.

Casañares-Still has been running the farm for 2 years now and like many local business owners, she too was affected by the COVID -19 pandemic.
“It started out challenging because I couldn’t hire help without having the COVID precautions in place at the farm, like an outhouse that my staff could use instead of coming into the house,” Casañares-Still shared.

Though there were not a lot of events like weddings that she catered to this summer, Lourdes was busy with other business opportunities.

“I fulfilled a few 8-weeks flower subscriptions, hosted garden tours and u-pick flower days at the farm, flower pop-up event at the city and just recently, participated at a weekend outdoor market.”

She added that It was a full summer and felt supported by the community.

Photo courtesy of Lourdes Casañares-Still, Masagana Flower Farm and Studio

A Beauti-Fall Season

OCTOBER 5 – 20, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 19
Remember the historic October snowstorm that hammered Winnipeg and southern Manitoba last year?

The wind and snow stole the coming of the picturesque autumn landscape and so were the moments that everybody was looking forward to capture in it.

This year, amid uncertain times due to the pandemic, one thing is beyond doubt- the fall season sure did emerge beautifully, letting people experience the crisp weather and capture the vibrant colours of the season.

Fall photo sessions were a hit again! The Diego family is just one of the many families who did not pass up the chance of seizing the best time to take their traditional family fall mini session.

“It has been a tradition that we take our family picture every season and occasion so we’ll have beautiful memories to look back to,” mother Irma Diego said.

Mark Godilano of Mark Godilano Photography took the shots while he shared how COVID-19 affected his business and the new normal in photo sessions.

Photo by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal


OCT 20 – NOV 5, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 20
Following the announcement and release of stricter protocols for the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region last October 19th, affected businesses are consequently expected to adhere to the new rules.

Sadly as it has been since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March, the already hardest hit restaurants made stricter adjustments with what they have already been enforcing in their business – still operating at half capacity with social distancing but this time, reducing group and table sizes to five people. Though it was only to run for two weeks, it can get extended if COVID-19 cases stay in upward trend.

The Filipino Journal visited 3 Filipino Restaurants – Pampanga, Sea Level 100 and Crspybnch and Max’s Restaurant Winnipeg to know how they are coping and adjusting to the new “constantly changing” normal in their business. And their appeal on how the community can further support small businesses.

Photo by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal

The Spirit of Halloween

NOVEMBER 5 – 20, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 21
Spirt Taekwondo students celebrated earlier in the week with in-class Halloween celebrations and instead of an in-person Halloween party, students shared their costumes virtually.

Given the current state of rising COVID19 cases in Manitoba, Halloween ended up being a virtual get-together like so many celebrations during the pandemic.

Some areas in the city have seemingly turned into a ghost town, living up to the Halloween vibe. There were empty streets and darkened homes last week where in a normal year, kids would have been filling the streets for trick-or-treat.

While provincial health officials did not cancel the event and just issued guidelines for safe Halloween, Winnipeg mayor Brian Bowman urged parents to keep their kids home and make alternative plans.

“We all have a role to play. I would just ask that parents consider celebrating in a different kind of way this year, celebrating with your children at home and limiting that risk to the extent that you can on Halloween.”

Photo courtesy of Kim Padua

Virtual Town Hall with the Prime Minister

NOV 20 – DEC 5, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 22
“It is such a privilege to be able to say thank you to the 80 or so of you on the call, but through you and to the thousands upon thousands of extraordinary community leaders, teachers, doctors, health care workers, activists, business people and so many different things that contribute every day to making Canada even better and stronger,” as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked all the speakers and participants on the virtual Filipino community call.

Speakers from Winnipeg’s Filipino community included Perla Javate, President of the Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba; Dale Voluntad, President of the Manitoba Filipino Business Council; Dan Buenaventura, outgoing President of the Philippine Nurses Association of Manitoba (PNAM); Genalyn Tan, President of the Manitoba Association of Filipino Teachers Inc. (MAFTI); Vizllamin Cabrera, Director of Development with ANAK and Joseph Orobia, Principal Architect, Architects at Play and VP and founding member of Kultivation Festival Inc. Each speaker discussed current issues related to COVID19 and how the pandemic has affected their organizations.

Joined by Manitoba Liberal MPs – The Hon. Jim Carr (Winnipeg South Centre), Terry Duguid (Winnipeg South), Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North) and The Hon. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface).

Build It and they will skate

DECEMBER 5 – 20, 2020 | VOL 34 NO 23
It’s Code Red in Manitoba and with COVID19 stay-at-home orders and restricted activities outdoors, many families including the newly built “Macaraeg Gardens” outdoor rink in Morden, Manitoba.

Mike & Eryn Macaraeg originally planned on building a smaller 8’x10′ rink in their backyard and due to the pandemic not ending any time soon, they went with a bigger 20’x30′ rink. They started building the outdoor rink in November and printed several Winnipeg Jets and Morden Hawks logos to give the outdoor rink some character.

Mike & Eryn’s eldest son, James has been enjoying the outdoor rink and pretending to play as the Jets. The only downside to current public health orders is not being able to skate with family and friends. Hopefully, the restrictions will be lifted soon, and the Macaraeg family can enjoy their outdoor rink among family and friends.

Photo courtesy of Mike Macaraeg


DEC 20, 2020 – JAN 5, 2021 | VOL 34 NO 24
“We would really encourage everyone to continue the spiritual sacrifice for the rest of the novena masses. Let us together use the power of prayer particularly the power of the novena masses. The more we become one in prayer, the more powerful our prayer can be.”

These were the parting words of Rev. Msgr. Enrique M. Samson Jr., parish priest of St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Winnipeg, during the first Novena Dawn mass last December 16th via livestream.

With the province’s COVID-19 public health orders still in effect until January 8, 2021, no in-person worship gatherings are allowed which includes the Simbang Gabi or the 9-day Novena Dawn Masses, a tradition of Catholic faithful during the Christmas season.

It may be a different set up this year and the churches in Winnipeg encourage the community to still be one in prayers especially these challenging times, as they bring the holy celebration to each home virtually.

Photo by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal