Newcomer Filipino Nurses Welcomed to Friendly Manitoba at a House Party

by Leila Castro

It was one year ago when Jon Reyes, the then Minister of Labor and Immigration, traveled to the Philippines to oversee the recruitment of Filipino nurses to work in Manitoba. Last September, the province started enjoying the fruits of the initiative. On said month, the first Registered Nurse, Chi Fuentebella, arrived in Thompson together with her family. To date, 48 nurses from the Philippines have joined Manitoba’s health care work force, then 200 more nurses with their families will be coming to the province in the next weeks; all these are offshoots of Jon’s hard work and passion to deliver results as a public servant.

Mr. Jon Reyes with the 5 registered nurses who recently arrived in Manitoba through Jon’s immigration initiative.

“We are so happy that we got the chance to come here in Manitoba and work as registered nurses. Now, we earn for one hour what we used to earn for a day back in the Philippines. It is a lot of help for my family, our joy is immeasurable,” one of the nurses shared in a conversation at a welcome party that was held last Friday evening for the five nurses who are deployed in Winnipeg and Thompson. For at least three hours, there was non-stop chatting, singing the karaoke, and feasting on the comfort foods – grilled fish, fish balls, kikiam, pancit chami, and fresh fruits. Other than Jon, those in the welcome party were Larry and Tova Vickar, Trini Tongol, Rod Cantiveros, Jhunel de Rivera, Rodel Olesco, Beth Olesco, Genalyn Tan, Rene Castro and Leila Castro.

The highlight of the night was Rodel and Jon’s karaoke rendition of Apo Hiking’s song Pumapatak na Naman and Ulan, and the ceremonial cutting of the special ube-macapuno cake that has the words “Welcome to Friendly Manitoba.”