Oak Hammock Marsh, St. Norbert Art Centre/Trappist Ruins and FortWhyte Alive have captivated Bryan and Debbie Nolasco, a young couple who arrived a year ago, and looking forward to discover the wonderful places in Winnipeg and beyond.
“Moving to a new place is not an easy path. We wanted to embrace the new place, see the wonderful places of Manitoba, discover the history and its culture, in a way it can serve as a powerful way to get unstuck and more forward.
The more we embrace the new place, the more we feel at home on a path of growth and change. Going outside our comfort zone ceases to feel stressful and instead it becomes fun, stimulating, empowering and even playful,” Debbie said with sparkling eyes, full of enthusiasm.
It was a sunny October 23, I decided to go back to my favorite escape from the hustle-bustle of the city, the Trapist Ruins at St. Norbert Arts Centre. I have been working on my on-going project about “Living Trees” and while I was taking some close shots of trunks of the trees, a couple was busy looking for a good shot of the La Salle River.
And the lady asked me if i’m Hot Rod? And I said yes. And I asked: “When did you know about Hot Rod.
She, a nurse and an avid photographer, said with a smile: “From an internet TV show of Matty in Manila.Wow, you’re the real Hot Rod. Unbelievable. We were teasing each other that I would like to see Hot Rod in person…we are lucky today to meet you, Sir, in person.”
That was the icebraker for me and the young couple to engage in conversation as if we had met before. And because Bryan and Debbie have embedded the love of nature, I invited the couple to visit “Fortwhyte Alive”, to see the migrating Canada geese.” Glad we meet you, Sir Rod. It is a real treat,” said Bryan, an IT, System & Network Analyst at the University of Manitoba Student’s Union (UMSU).
With their enthusiasm to see ForthWhyte Alive on that Sunday afternoon, and the start of a new bonding as friends, both have agreed to and answers for the Filipino Journal’s new section featuring the lives and loves of our new permanent residents.
FJ: What made you decide to settle in Winnipeg? Has someone told you that Winnipeg is one of the cities in Canada to raise a family?
Byran and Debbie: In our view, Winnipeg is a great place to move. We moved here for the better life opportunity and for the people we love. Bryan’s siblings and some of our relatives lives here. Indeed, if you’re starting a family, it’s a great place to live in where it offers access to health care, education and affordable housing. Lastly, the people are fantastic and very friendly.
FJ: When did you start loving nature? Have you traveled to the various places in the Philippines and what experiences you had after engaging yourself with those places?
Debbie: I know there are simple ways we can all reconnect with nature whether we live in the urban, the rural, or somewhere in between. I grew up in a place where beach is pretty close and sometimes the best thing I can do is walk to the nearest beach and play with my friends. At my early 20s, I started Photography as my hobby and eventually started taking photos of the different subjects and places. Indeed, my camera constantly reminds me to walk, explore and take a lot of photos. The magic really begins when you stay in a place and give yourself enough time to witness extraordinary things, meet new people, gain insight, and understanding of the place, history and its culture. For this reason, I learned that beautiful things can be found everywhere.
Bryan: I grew up in a rural area where rice fields, mango farm, and farms animals are visibly seen. I also love nature ever since I was a little. I usually play with my friends and rush to the nearest mango farm where we play hide and seek. Hiking is my favorite hobby way back home. I usually do hiking during weekends with my workmates. For me, hiking is a great way to explore new place and rare opportunity to get in touch with nature. My very first hike was along the southern Batangas, in the coastal mountain of San Juan, Mt. Daguldul. It was a life-changing experience: we hiked all day, climbed hills for awe-inspiring views and made our way through it. Every minute felt like an adventure and the combination of the fresh air and sense of accomplishment is something indescribable.
Bryan and Debbie: We both explored the province of Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Bicol and Palawan. The beauty of nature in one place is hard to describe, you have to see the place with your own eyes. It was the surroundings and the stunning views of the seascape and landscape captured our love for nature. From the beautiful landscape, endless white beaches, crystal clear waters and an underwater world, that will take your breath away. Every destination is truly paradise.
As a couple, the priceless treasure engraved in our hearts and minds while exploring a place together is everlasting. The learning experience bonds us together and offers us an opportunity to revel in knowledge as we open our minds and hearts to the world of nature.
FJ: You mentioned that you had organized a group of lady photographers and would you continue that initiative in Winnipeg?
Debbie: In the year of 2008, I founded Pinay Shutters, a diverse collective of Filipino Women Photographers. We are former affiliated member of The Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation (FPPF). Indeed, we successfully lunched few photo exhibits and events in Manila. For that reason, Pinay Shutters was once featured photography club in Manila Bulletin, Philippines’ largest broadsheet newspaper. I would love to join any existing photography club here in Winnipeg. It would be really fun to organize a small group of Pinays who are interested in Photography.
FJ: How would you plan to visit other places in Winnipeg, even during Winter time?
Bryan and Debbie: Wee simply can’t miss Winnipeg’s Winter Wonderland and Festival du Voyageur, the biggest Canadian winter festival, explore and try skating on the Assiniboine River Trail, get acquainted with Winnipeg’s art scene, spend the day at Assiniboine Park ,tour the political heart of Manitoba at Manitoba Legislative Building, visit the beautiful church of St. Boniface Cathedral-Basilica, explore the beauty of The Forks, revisit Forty Whyte Alive and experience slide down a massive toboggan run onto the frozen lake, experience the Xorbing or Snow tubing at Adrenaline Adventures, and take a journey through Manitoba’s past, present and future at the Manitoba Museum and Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
FJ: Being a young couple, you have the freedom to travel wherever you want to go, what would be your plans for 2017?
Bryan and Debbie: We’re in our early 30s, we don’t have kids yet and we like to get out and take part in what the city has to offer. We would like to explore and welcome the unfamiliar and the unexpected beauty of Manitoba and hopefully our travel experience around the province will be more enjoyable and fulfilling.
We are excited to explore the Interlake region of Manitoba next year. This includes exploring Hecla Provincial Park, take a journey to the northwest corner of the Interlake at Steep Rock Limestone Cliffs, revisit the Oak Hammock Marsh, discover one of the nature’s oddities at the Narcisse Snake Dens, visit Grand Beach Provincial Park, and tour around Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site.
FJ: What will be your advise to our new permanent residents in Winnipeg, allowing themselves to visit these wonderful places in Winnipeg in particular and in Manitoba in general?
Bryan and Debbie: Exploring the city and province provides learning and education about places and history, it connects us to other cultures and people, expands our awareness and introduces us to greater diversity, also gives us time to heal, reduces stress and helps us regain enthusiasm for life and lastly it stokes curiosity and awakens our inner child by offering us new, “first-time” experiences. Plus, exploring great attractions and activities in Winnipeg doesn’t have to break the bank. Just take advantage of the green spaces, walking trails, and free activities for the whole family.
Today, plan a trip and go somewhere new. Explore the city of Winnipeg and the regions of Manitoba. Embrace the beauty of its nature, culture and history which create everlasting memories with your family and loved ones.
(Editor’s Note: The Winnipeg Filipino population has increased exponentially through the years, and every new permanent resident has a story to be told. And through this special section of the Filipino Journal, we want to invite our new kababayans to share their experiences with our readers, making us your medium to reach out others and learn something special from your lives and loves! Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com…And we want to engage with you, and to share us your experiences.)
Photos by Rod E. Cantiveros/Debbie Nolasco Filipino Journal