“The sooner we get vaccinated, the sooner we can get back together as a community.”

– Ron Cantiveros on being a COVID Vaccine Ambassador

In the Filipino community, we often have multi-generational families in one household. We also have a large community of over 85,000 Filipinos in Manitoba – many of whom are essential workers in healthcare, retail, manufacturing and food service industries. Because of this, I wasn’t surprised when I learned that the rates of transmission within the Filipino community have been relatively high. The opening of Winnipeg’s second vaccine Super-Site on Leila will have a huge impact on vaccine accessibility in our community.

My family followed all the fundamentals to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but you can take all the precautions and still get it. I know because I tested positive for COVID-19 in November. It happened at the same time that our family was about to welcome our second child into the world! I was devastated, because being in quarantine meant I couldn’t be there for his birth, I couldn’t be there to support my wife during the delivery! It wasn’t until after my two weeks in quarantine that I could finally hold baby Luc in my arms! Thankfully, my COVID-19 infection was mild, and I had a great support network of family, friends, and co-workers. And I’m so grateful I didn’t pass the virus to my wife, kids, father and in-laws.

As the COVID-19 vaccine program rolled-out, I was excited to see our parents and my friends’ parents get vaccinated. It was great to see our lolas (grandmothers), lolos (grandfathers), titas (aunts) and titos (uncles) also getting vaccinated. For me, their first vaccine shots meant we were taking one step closer to normalcy, and the hope that we will soon get together as a community again. I’m so glad to hear that we’re now seeing fewer cases in this older age group – it gives me comfort, even though we’re still in a pandemic.

After all we’ve been through as a community I want to give a big shout out to science! I have a B.Sc. Genetics Honours degree, I have always valued modern medical advances, including now, the development of COVID-19 vaccines. If you’re hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, talk to a healthcare professional or a trusted friend. You can even ask me questions on Twitter.
With vaccines, I feel like it’s the gateway on the road back to a normal life. I look at recent public events happening in the U.S. – Stanley Cup Playoffs, PGA Championships, concerts and events… and I want that back! As the Winnipeg Jets move to Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, as a fan and sports photographer for the Filipino Journal, I miss being at the rink, I miss the crowds, and our Whiteout parties.
The sooner we get vaccinated, the sooner we can get back together as a community. I miss going to BBQs in the park, wedding socials, weddings, christenings and Filipino festivals. I’m hopeful though, that we’ll get there soon enough and my sons – Lorenzo and Luc – will feel the love and joy of playing with their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.