PINAYS MB Inc. recognizes Carolina Custodio and Fe Ryder as outstanding Filipino women in 2016

PINAYS MB Inc. recognizes Carolina Custodio and Fe Ryder as outstanding Filipino women in 2016

How the Filipino pioneers became economic engines in Manitoba economy in particular and in Canada in general.

Would you know who inspired the thousands of Filipinos to make Winnipeg a home; and would you know who initiated in the influx of thousand garment workers to work in the garment industry in Winnipeg since 1968?

The very foundation of the emerging Filipino community can be traced to many pioneers who had made Winnipeg City as their second homes. And these two ladies, namely, Fe Ryder and Carolina Custodio, have been honourned recently by the Pinays MB Inc. at the Pinays Recognition Luncheon at the Marlborough Hotel, coinciding the celebration of International Women’s Day.

Fe Ryder (nee Viloria), one of the four Filipino nurses who had been working as exchange foreign nurses in Rochester, Minnesota, decided to try their luck to work as nurses at the Misercordia Hospital after their term had expired. Talking to Sister Lionie of The Miserecordia Sisters whom they met in Minnesota, Fe and co-workers, Melba Rous, Purification de la Cruz and Cora Liago decided to move up north, and City of Winnipeg had become their new home in 1959.

During the late 50’s and early 60’s the Winnipeg garment industry was going through a big shortage of sewing machine operators. The Government of Canada had recruited European sewing machine operators from Italy, Portugal, Poland and Greece to meet the demand of an expanding industry. Since most of them did not speak English communication was a big problem and these garments workers neededto learn the language. The opportunity for the Filipino garment workers took centre stage when Carolina Custodio, an employee of the Immigration and Employment Department saw the opportunity and suggested to hire Filipino garments who had the basic knowledge of the English language. The government of Canada took the challenge on a trial basis and sent some recruitment officers to Manila. In 1968, the first batch of garment workers arrived. Most of them were supervisors at the Philippine American Embroidery (PAE) based in Makati City.

The management of the garment companies were very pleased with the performance of the Filipino workers and this led to the influ of more than 10,000 new garment workers by 1986. These garment workers were allowed to sponsored their spouses, parents and siblings, thus the emergence of the new Filipino Community in Winnipeg.

.”During the early 60’s Drs. Roland and Irene Guzman, arrived from Ottawa, together with Pat Bigornia and other volunteers, my wife Linda Cantiveros and myself included, had helped to find the host families and secure winter clothes, boots, household items and other needs for the new immigrants”.said Rod Cantiveros. “These immigrants contributed to the strengthen economic engine of the Winnipeg’s garment factories. Many others have assisted them to adjust to their new home, new country. ” Dr. Irene Guzman has shared: . “I was a practicing pediatrician but I switched to family physician because of the demands of the garment workers. They had difficulty communicating with Canadian physicians,” she added. With closer contacts with the new arrivals, Dr. Roland Guzman and his wife, Dr. Irene, Pat Bigornia, Bayani and Carolina Custudio became the adopted fathers and mothers of the new arrivals, that they have become the favorite wedding sponsors of the garment workers as their petitioned would be spouses arrived in Winnipeg”.

“This is a very successful event for recognizing the Filipino women who had made contributions to the growth of the Filipino community. And I very thankful for this recognition as one of the Filipinos who arrived in 1959, and I do hope the Pinays MB Inc, will continue the objectives of this association,” Fe Ryder, one of the 1st honorees for outstanding Filipino Women of Manitoba.

Pinays MB Inc., founded in December 2015, is a new dynamic empowering group for Flipino women in Manitoba. The vision and purpose of this group is to have resources available to support and to guide Filipino women of all ages. The group will initiate and undertake exciting and meaningful projects which will allow them to grow and to develop their potentials needed by the growing Filipino community.

The founding members include Roselyn Advincula, Marites Aiello, Araceli Ancheta, Trifona Bermisa, Marcela Buduhan, Jose Concepcion, Lerma Cruz Villamor, Milagros Dacwag, Connie de Villa, Cora De los Reyes, Wilma Gaburno, Perla Javate, Emmie Joaquin, Margarity Kives, Joy Lazo, Irene Medina, Aireen Miaral, Maria Luz Ocampo,Ruth Provitina, Alice Robles and Conchita Talbot.

Special guests and who provided inspirational greetings include MP Kevin Lamoureux, MLA Burrows, Melanie Wight, Deputy Mayor Councillor MIke Pagtakhan and Orli Marcelino,honorary consul general. Opening address: Perla Javate, chair; and Letty Antonio, invocation; Intermission, Joy Lazo; Milagros Dacwag, introduction of the guest speaker; MLA Flor Marcilino, keynote speaker; Tess Aiello, recognition award; closing remarks, Roselyn Advincula, co-chair; emcee, Emmie Joaquin.
Patrons and sponsors include Bermisa Family, Holly Toupin, regional VP, RBC; Joyce Catenza, financial adviser, RBC; Tess Aiello, RBNC, Hipolito Alibin, Jr. CGA and president of MFBC; Corona Foronda, Trifona Bermisa, Teodora Encarnacion, Conchita Talbot, Orli Marcelino, honorary consul general; Maples Physitheraphy Clinic and Sherilyn A. Daquies, BMR-PT, Physiotherapist.

One of the invited guests, Felly de Jesus Grieve, owner/manager of A1 Nutrition said: “An outstanding event to honor Filipino women who had contributed enormously to the very foundation of our Filipino community and it is about time that Pinays be recognized for their contribution in building up a strong Manitoba society. I would not be here without the help of my late sister, Francis Caballerro who sponsored us, and this recognition is for her.”

“As a member of the Pinays MB Inc. it would be a privilege to be able to serve the various programs and events lined up to support, encourage, and empower our Filipino women in the community and the society as a whole, ” Joy Lazo said.

Julie Javier, governor of Batangas Association, said: “I have to congratulate the honorees and the organizers for sponsoring this important event, focusing on the Filipino women who have made big difference in our community. Job well done.”

“Congratulations to the founders of this group who have big hearts. I believe that behind the strong men there are strong women who are ready and able to do their roles in our growing community. Keep up the good work,” Letty Antonio, president of OFSAM and MCFFA.

Roselyn Advincula, co-chair of the event and with the Immigration Centre, said: “I am truly inspired to witness this celebration of Pinays in our community. We are often in the background taking care of everyone in our community; and now it is the time to have a momentous event to showcase the strength, beauty, contributions of women in our lives.”

“This event is very inspirational for me, recognizing Filipina pioneers in our community.And this event has given and other Filipino women motivation to work hard for our community,” Maggie Chan-Urbano, president of QPAM, said with a smiling face.

Estella Abucot said: “It is a great opportunity for Pinays to be together- to know each other, to love and support each other. Great job.”

Photos by Rod Cantiveros | Filipino Journal