Jun 19, 2024

June 1, 2024 – As in past years, CanadianFilipino.Net selects its annual Outstanding Filipinos in Canada from notable Filipinos who have made a difference in Canada and made the world a better place.

Not only were they successful in their respective fields of endeavor but more importantly, they have enhanced the lives of their fellow Filipinos in Canada  and of Canadians in general  and in so doing contributed  to the multicultural nature of Canadian society and helped Canada’s prosperity at home and stature in the world by winning it honor and praise. 

In celebration of Filipino Heritage Month this June, CanadianFilipino.Net is proud to present its Outstanding Filipinos in Canada for 2024.  They are: Lawyer  Alicia Natividad,  Public Health and Occupational Medicine  Specialist Dr. Denise Koh,  playwright C.E. Gatchalian,  community leader Virginia Gayot,  Artist/painter Leonardo O. Cunanan Jr.,   Pinay advocate Winnie Navarro, performer and writer Isabel Kanaan,  Cathedral Rector  Father Dino Villadiego,  tennis star Leylah Annie Fernandez, and Filipino BC Project Director Kristina Corpin-Moser.  

 Alicia Natividad — There is this adage that if you want anything done, ask a busy person.  A truly busy person is never too busy to do something for the greater good.  Alicia Natividad   is such a busy person who gets things done. Her life in Canada has been a series of one remarkable achievement after another. 

For her “passion to improve the status of women and to promote equality rights, for her exceptional spirit and commitment to making Ottawa a more benevolent, stronger, and inclusive municipality thus a  better place for all, for her  selfless and countless outstanding contributions that has not only impacted those whom she has served directly but others who have benefited from her dedication,” Alicia Natividad  was recently recognized as an Honouree of Femmes remarquables Ottawa Distinguished Women in the category of Lifetime Contribution. 

Alicia came to Canada as a landed immigrant in 1970 with her family after travelling and living in Iran and Greece. She was born in the Philippines. Her parents were of Philippine ancestry.  She is very proud of her Philippine ancestry and has made significant contributions to the Philippine community in Ottawa and in Canada as noted in the nomination for her award. 

Equally important to Alicia is her passion to improve the status of women and promote equality rights.  As a lawyer, she uses her legal knowledge and skills in this regard.  Even as a law student, she volunteered to establish a multicultural women’s co-operative as a program of the Ottawa-

Carleton Immigrant Services Organization.  She became a founding member and President of the Ottawa Women’s Network and published the first Directory of Women’s Organizations in Ottawa. She gave pro bono legal services to Nelson House of Ottawa-Carleton, a shelter for abused women and their children, for five years during its formative years. She was also a member of the Women’s Business Network and promoted and assisted women in business, as well as assisting the Multicultural Council of Professional Women in establishing an organization to promote multicultural women professionals.

During her law school days and after becoming a lawyer, Alicia was an active member of Ottawa Women and the Law, the National Women and the Law, Legal Education Action Fund, and other equity seeking women organizations that promoted the rights of women in Canada.  Alicia also actively promotes women who want to run for political office as one way that women can affect policy changes in government and society.

As a Canadian of Philippine heritage, Alicia was a “go-to” person for the Embassy of the Philippines as she gave legal advice to Filipina nannies  who were mistreated by their employers.  To tell Canadians that Filipinos were also business minded, Alicia was one of the founding members and led the Canada Philippines Business Council for a decade.  She led business missions from Canada to the Philippines with then Secretaries of State, Raymond Chan, Dr. Rey Pagtakhan, and David Kilgour.  She also organized a formal dinner for then President Fidel Ramos and a business breakfast for then President Gloria Macapagal Aroyo. As President of the Canada Business Councils, she organized business seminars in Montreal, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Manitoba to inform Canadians that there were business opportunities for Canadians in the Philippines.  Similarly, in the Philippines, Alicia promoted Canada with Filipino businesses, professionals, and organizations. 

Alicia was legal counsel for Philippine Centre Canada, the Science and Technology Council, the Filipino Basketball Association, and assisted other Filipino Canadian organizations to incorporate and maintain their corporate existence, all pro bono. 

More recently, Alicia initiated the acknowledgement by the Law Society of Ontario of Filipino Canadian lawyers to celebrate June as Filipino Heritage Month. As one of the founding members of the Filipino Canadian Lawyers Network – Le reseau des avocats philippinocanadiens (FCLN-RAPC), this organization was launched on June 1, 2021.  Alicia has chronicled the stories of Filipino Canadian lawyers through the partnership of FCLN-RAPC with the Osgoode Society Historical Program so that Filipino Canadian lawyers are represented and chronicled for future generations of Filipino Canadian lawyers. She is the first President of FCLN-RAPC and continues to be a director of the organization and lead person in its Mentorship Program and Osgoode Society chronicles.

Alicia is also an active member of the Ottawa community at large.  She was a trustee of the Ottawa Civic Hospital for six years and the Loeb Health Research Institute for three years, an Advisory Board Member for the Pearson Centre, a Charter Member of TIE Ottawa, a director of the Rideau Club, and actively participates with the Ottawa Board of Trade and Institute of Corporate Directors.

For her contributions to her Filipino heritage, passion to push gender equality, and active community involvement, Alicia has received many awards and certificates of appreciation in addition to her recent Ottawa Distinguished Women – Lifetime Contribution award. 

Winnie Navarro Winnie Navarro — A leader in the broadcasting industry of Canada, Winnie is a first-generation Filipino Canadian immigrant who has proudly broken the glass ceilings at CJOB radio, CTV and APTN television. She is a respected and proven business operations leader with over 30 years of experience in the industry. She is the first Filipino in Manitoba to successfully breakthrough into senior management roles for market leading broadcast companies in Canada. She has been called on to lead struggling teams to successfully transform into highly effective contributing units of the business. In this capacity she helped open the elusive doors of mainstream broadcasting to qualified new Filipino immigrants.

Despite her hectic work life, she found time for her advocacy in Pinays Manitoba Inc. The mission of Pinays is to empower Filipino women in Manitoba with the vision of recognizing outstanding Filipino women in the community. Winnie is the current president of Pinays Manitoba, and her professional experience has helped drive the remarkable growth and recognition of this community organization, making its mark in the diverse Manitoba community.

Under Winnie’s leadership Pinays Manitoba has been elevated into a recognized and respectable organization, encompassing the mainstream community. Pinays’ flagship project, the annual Pinays Manitoba Trailblazer Awards, has gained notable reputation and community support.

Born in Manila, Philippines, and growing up with four siblings, the value of education was instilled early on in their childhood by their progressive parents - her father, Isaac Arida, was a bank examiner at Central Bank of the Philippines who fully supported their mother’s professional career. This loving relationship allowed her mother, Violeta P. Arida, to become an internationally recognized and multi-awarded scientist. Her mother gave Winnie a strong role model to look up to.

Winnie attained a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. There she met the love of her life, Mano Navarro, tying  the knot right after graduation in 1981. They immigrated to Los Angeles, California in 1984 where they initially built their lives. They are blessed with two beautiful children who are their pride and joy– Martin Andre Navarro and Catharyn Bianca Navarro. 

In Los Angeles (1986), Winnie worked at an advertising agency as a Billing Manager where she was the first Filipino/Asian hired. In 1994, Mano who worked in the pre-press print business accepted a job offer that relocated the family to Winnipeg.  In Winnipeg (1994), Winnie was the first Filipino ever hired by CJOB radio. As the Traffic Manager, she implemented efficiency strategies to improve the Traffic area’s ability to increase revenue.

In 1999, Winnie was the first Filipino hired at CKY/CTV Winnipeg. She accepted the job of Traffic Manager, meeting her mandate to revive a struggling department that was losing revenue. This led to her promotion to a senior management role, assuming the Manager for Program and Traffic Services position. Winnie’s reputation as an effective leader in the TV broadcasting industry was set in place during  her 17-year tenure at CTV.

In 2020, Winnie was the first Filipino/Asian hired in the senior management team of APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, a national network) when she became the Director for Scheduling and Traffic. In achieving her mandate to uplift an overwhelmed department while transitioning into a new broadcast system, she surpassed expectations by providing valuable strategic contributions to APTN. Retiring at the end of 2023, Winnie’s three-year tenure at APTN has had a tremendous impact. To quote Mike Omelus (Executive Director for Programming & Content Strategy), “Even though it has only been three years, the work Winnie has done will help APTN for many years to come. Her legacy is the ratings increase of 23% year over year, and no one else in Canadian broadcasting can say that in this current climate.”

What a good ending to Winnie’s hard-earned successful career. The plan now is to travel more, take care of herself and continue to contribute through her community involvement. Her focus will be her advocacy to support Filipino women empowerment through Pinays Manitoba.

 Denise KohDr. Denise Koh —The University of Manitoba has announced the appointment of  Dr. Denise Koh from Sakatchewan  as assistant professor at UM .  “Koh, a second-generation Canadian Filipina, is a specialist in Public Health and Occupational Medicine and  passionate about helping physicians and medical learners avoid burnout and overcome barriers to living extraordinary lives,” the announcement noted.  

The UM announcement further explained that Koh is  “A successful life coach, author and motivational speaker, she is the founder of MedResRx, which runs a support network for Canadian physicians and medical trainees and a Canadian Physician and Medical Trainee Suicide Log. In addition to her numerous roles, Koh is also a highly sought after Hypnotherapist, and recently launched the MedResRx Hypnotherapy App to help more people get access to the support they need, making her hypnotherapy, motivational recordings and programs available anytime, anywhere at a fraction of the price of a regular therapy.

“She is also contributed a chapter to the #1 Best-Seller (multiple categories) ‘Artificial Intelligence in Medicine: a compilation of stories from doctors across multiple disciplines on the challenges, breakthroughs and potentials of artificial intelligence in the healthcare system’ which launched on October 17.”

Commenting on her book chapter, “Rising Through the Data: An Occupational Health Journey Amid Pandemic and Prejudice,” Canadian Filipino Net columnist Dr. Rey Pagtakhan notes: “Dr Denise Koh has touchingly distilled from her multifaceted personal and professional life experiences in multicultural Canada her humanity and passion for human healing and has aptly projected the importance of human sentience and, therefore, guardrails, in the application of AI technology to enhance public and occupational health and safety.”

 

 GatchalianC.E. Gatchalian— Canadian Filipino writer and playwright Chris  Gatchalian was one of the recipients of  the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia’s  Arts and Music Awards in 2022.

The one-time awards “recognize individuals, groups and organizations who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, creativity, community engagement, passion or commitment to fostering and mentoring others in the fields of visual arts, music or performance”.

"I am delighted to congratulate the recipients of these special awards," said Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.

Gatchalian was born to Filipino parents in Vancouver. He is the author of six books and co-editor of two anthologies. Also, his plays have been produced locally, nationally and internationally. His memoir is titled “Double Melancholy: Art, Beauty and the Making of a Brown Queer Man.”

He thinks he was born to write. Growing up as a shy, introverted child, he found refuge in books that offered him both an escape and a reflection of his own inner life. “Books allowed me to see myself in other characters, so it gave me confirmation of my own existence, my own humanity,” said Gatchalian. He had this immediate respect and admiration for what writers did and what they created at such an early age. Gatchalian started writing stories at six years old, so young but already wanting to offer the same inspiration to his readers. 

 Canadian Filipino author Gatchalian’s objective as a writer is to be the voice of racialized folks. To be able to share stories that the mainstream society hasn’t given visibility to and take his audience beyond their own immediate milieu.

 The Vancouver-born playwright’s works, Falling In Time, Broken, Motifs & Repetitions and People Like Vince, have appeared on stages nationally and internationally, as well as on radio and television. A recipient of the Dayne Ogilvie Prize in 2013, awarded annually by The Writers' Trust of Canada to an LGBT author of merit, and two Jessie Richardson Awards for his work as theatre artist and producer, Gatchalian clearly established himself as a notable artist behind the scenes. 

As a Canadian Filipino, Gatchalian finds himself becoming more and more Filipino as he gets older and wiser. He sees more clearly how white supremacy seeps into virtually every aspect of our lives as citizens of this society. “We need more nuanced, more complex artistic representations of Filipinos. The nannies, the singers, the nurses, the boxing champions that people know as Filipinos have complex stories and lead complex lives,” said Gatchalian. “We are also lawyers, doctors, engineers, intellectuals, activists, teachers, writers. We are female, we are male, we are every gender in between. We are queer and we are straight. We are conservative, and we are radical.”

He also believes that writing chose him. “I have chosen a path that runs counter to the objectives of mainstream society, which is governed wholeheartedly by capitalism, by neoliberalism and by the market economy,” said Gatchalian. Finances have always been his biggest struggle as a writer and as a citizen and so he will always fight for better compensation for artists even though he doesn’t expect art to be a lucrative endeavor. His primary goal is to question and destabilize the status quo. As for the spiritual rewards of being a writer and an artist, for Gatchalian, it is immense. What keeps him going is the ability to challenge people’s deeply held, underlying and unquestioned assumptions about everything and reveal aspects of humanity’s collective truth that the social order prefers to keep hidden.

 

Virginia GayotVirginia Gayot— A well-liked community leader and volunteer in Winnipeg, Manitoba, she was born in Baguio City, Philippines, is married to Salmineo Gayot, and they have three children.

Virgie, as she is fondly called, attained a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Baguio, Baguio City. In the Philippines, she worked for the Department of Public Works and Highways prior to immigrating to Canada in 1991.

At the beginning, Virgie and her family had a hard time adjusting to a new culture and environment in Canada especially the frigid winter weather, but they eventually managed to adjust. Early on, she realized that to pursue her line of work in Canada, she had to take courses to upgrade her credentials. She accomplished this and is now an Inspector Specialist at Standard Aero Limited in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Virgie is currently the president of the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba Inc. (PCCM). It is a registered Canadian charity and serves as the central hub for cultural, social, educational, and recreational activities for the Filipino community in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and surrounding areas. PCCM provides extensive programming and services for Filipino Canadians, new immigrants, seniors, and youth.

Under her leadership, the PCCM was able to earn the trust and respect, not only of the Winnipeg’s Filipino community, but also of the business and political sectors in Manitoba. PCCM celebrated its 25th anniversary on November 25, 2023. For the first time in its 25 years, it was a very-well attended event – a proof of the community’s approval of PCCM’s directions and role in the community. Virgie and her PCCM board of directors earned praises from the leaders of the other Filipino organizations and from their supporters. To quote PCCM’s long-time benefactor, Mr. Larry Vickar, a philanthropist and CEO of the Vickar Automotive Group: “I am convinced this is the new PCCM writing a new chapter with a new vision.”

Virgie is very proud of her culture and heritage as a Filipino. She served as president from 2014 to 2019 of BIBAK Association of Manitoba, an organization of indigenous Filipinos from the Cordillera region in the northern part of Luzon who have made Manitoba their second home. She helped promote and showcase indigenous culture and heritage in the Winnipeg community. Through her initiative, BIBAK has been teaching and training the younger generation to appreciate and learn their cultural dances and traditions.

Having a compassionate heart for the poor, she also found time from her busy schedule to serve as Board Member of Siloam Mission, an innovative Christian humanitarian organization that supports Manitobans who are experiencing homelessness, poverty, and mental health challenges.

On May 11, 2024, Pinays Manitoba Inc. acknowledged Virgie’s strong community leadership and volunteerism by recognizing her as one of the four Filipino women trailblazers in its 8th Pinays Manitoba Trailblazer Recognition Awards gala event.

Virgie continues to serve the Filipino community with dedication, honesty, and transparency. She said that she is grateful that she was given the opportunity to connect with people not only to serve but show love and care to others.

 

CunananLeo Orpilla Cunanan Jr.  — an artist/painter by profession,  he was happily pursuing his artistic inclinations  when his father, Leonardo  “Ding” Cunanan, died in June 2022 and left behind shoes too big to fill.  Ding had started Dahong Pilipino, a Canadian Community and Business directory from scratch in 1991 and built it up as the only Filipino Canadian Community and Business Directory in Canada that has published an annual edition continuously for over 30 years.  In 2011, in addition to its regular print editions, a digital version was created at www.dahongpilipino.ca.  The website gets over 4,000 hits per month. 

The daunting task of filling Ding’s  big shoes fell on his son, Leo Jr. who  initially worried how he would continue publishing Dahong Pilipino to project a positive image of Canadian Filipinos and their businesses as well as  highlight their contributions to Canadian society. 

He need not worry because from the very beginning, he had been working side by side with his father in putting out the directory. With his artistic flair, he has prepared the layout and created original artworks for every cover of Dahong Pilipino from 1998 to present.  He used Dahong Pilipino to show his creative talent and highlight the directory’s goals. Under his father’s tutelage, he learned every production aspect of the directory and proved himself well equipped for the tasks. 

Harnessing his years of  helping Ding as a graphic artist in charge of designing the directory’s cover and preparing its layout, and with the support of Marilyn Cunanan who stayed on as Dahon’s co-founder and adviser and the regular staff including writers who remained intact plus two new editorial consultants, Leo Jr.  was able to publish the 2022 and 2023 editions on time. Today he is the president/publisher of the directory to carry on with Ding’s legacy. 

With Dahong Pilipino back on track, Leo Jr. was able to continue pursuing his artistic leaning. He became an avid student of Maestro Sofronio Y. Mendoza.  “Everything I know about art, I learned from SYM,” he often says. “He opened the door for me to discover my potential; now I really enjoy painting more than anything else.” He is president of DIMASALANG III International Artists Group, founded by SYM, and an active member of the Federation of Canadian Artists and member of The Society of Composers, Exhibits Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN).

His painting “Melissa” was  a Third Place winner at the Federation of Canadian Artists' AUTUMN SALON SHOW in 2015.  His still life "Wine and Fruit Medley" received the 2013 Award of Excellence for Federation of Canadian Artists (FCA) STILL LIFE SHOW.  And he was a finalist for the City of Vancouver's IRONCLAD ART MANHOLE DESIGN CHALLENGE in 2011.From 2011 to 2023, he participated in numerous art exhibits featuring other Filipino artists and their works.

In 2024, he organized an art exhibit which he called WALKING WITH SYM,  an unprecedented artistic event where over 20 disciples of SYM’s gathered under one roof to display what they had learned from him in over 20 years.  The 2-month-long exhibit runs from April 1st to May 31 at the Anvil Centre Community Art Gallery in New Westminster, BC. 

As one of his activities at Dahong Pilipino to connect with the Filipino community in Vancouver, Leo and his team at Dahon distribute directories, showcase advertisers, conduct interviews on topics of  current interest, and support Filipino organizations across Metro Vancouver. The interviews, which are shared on social media, are well-received by guests, who also received complimentary copies of  Dahon  containing a wealth of community information and resources.

During the pandemic years when many Filipino businesses were suffering from loss of customers, Leo offered them big discounts on ads so they could continue to advertise and promote their businesses.  As a Dahon policy, he gives free ads to charitable organizations that help people in need so more people can benefit from the help and support they offer. 

Today’s Dahong Pilipino serves as a reliable guide for the local Filipino community and other residents of B.C. It provides names, addresses and phone numbers of Filipino businesses, professionals and community leaders and organizations.  It features successful Filipinos to inspire the younger generations to dream big and succeed. 

 

 Isabel KanaanIsabel Kanaan —In a video blog  Isabel related that although she has broken into mainstream Canadian film, theatre and TV industry, she wasn’t content.

The current Hamilton, Ontario-based actor and writer, who came from the Philippines with her family when she was a teen, says that she felt empty despite her success.

Kanaan explains in the 2021 vlog that it was because she had not seen Filipinas and queer people in TV shows that she had watched in the past. “Where am I?” she asks.

 Fast forward to the first episode of her sketch comedy series Abroad on OMNI Television in 2022, wherein Kanaan suggests a deal with the audience: she will continue to learn more about the wider community through fares like Law & Order, while they get to know her more through her show.

The first season of Abroad wrapped up after 12 episodes, and the show, which showcases the Filipino immigrant experience in Canada, started its second season on June 11, 2023.

“I find comedy is one of the easiest and most digestible ways people can open their eyes to new ideas,” Kanaan states in a written interview about her medium. 

“Comedy is inviting, but it is all about the truth as well, so this makes people ponder on what they’ve just watched. 

“People come for the laughs, stay for the thought-provoking questions, and keep coming back for the heart,” she explains.

Kanaan was in high school when she and her family left the Philippines and settled in Burlington in 2008.

After finishing secondary school, she took up math, philosophy and religious studies, before eventually finding herself at Seneca College, where she completed training in acting for camera and voice. Kanaan started her career in theatre as well as in TV, specifically with the series Haunted or Hoax.

She remembered her teachers at Seneca telling her that she can find comedy in everything. With that in mind, Kanaan took the conservatory program at Second City, a renowned comedy school in Toronto. This set her up for a career in comedy, both as a performer and writer. Her credits include Tall Boyz and This Hour Has 22 Minutes  at CBC. Also, Hudson & Rex at CityTV, and Nurses at Global.

Wanting to express her Filipino heritage, Kanaan and a friend set up the Tita Collective, a Toronto-based all-women’s ensemble dedicated to the exploration of cultural identity and narratives related to Filipino immigration. [Tita is Tagalog word for “auntie”.] “It’s hilarious and heartwarming!” Kanaan says about making comedy her full-time job. “I love to laugh, so having a career in making people laugh feels right. “

“When I see people smile because of a scene I wrote or when I hear them chuckle from a character I’ve embodied, it makes me feel fulfilled,” she says. 

Kanaan is sure about what she wants to do in the future. “Maybe there will be Abroad Season 3, so stay tuned!” she says. “No matter what though, I’ll be creating stories, whether that be on stage, film, TV, books, or even social media.” She shares that she’s working on her first novel. “Since my personal mandate is to showcase Filipino and immigrant stories, my novels are guaranteed to exhibit these elements as well,” she says. 

As for the most important thing for her as an immigrant, Kanaan says it’s family. “When we moved, we had no one but each other to rely on. Now that I’m older and have made new connections in Canada, family is still what matters most, but now this is comprised of the family I grew up with and my chosen family of friends and loved ones.”

 

Dino VilladiegoFather Dino Villadiego is the first Filipino rector of St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Victoria, British Columbia. He usually presides over the evening Mass on Saturdays and Sundays. He would sometimes sit at the piano, playing hymns, classical music and even pop tunes like “Moon River” and “Hallelujah.” He is famous among parishioners for the hearty “Amen” he starts his homilies with (and to which  the congregants happily shout back), and beloved for homilies that are engaging and down to earth, communicating God’s word through humor and anecdotes from real life. He is also famous for his smile.

 Originally from Quezon Province in the Philippines, Fr. Dino began at St. Andrew’s in 2016 as associate priest, on loan from his home diocese in Lipa City, Batangas. In 2021, he was appointed the cathedral’s rector.

Saint Andrew’s was consecrated in 1892. It is one of the largest Catholic churches in Western Canada and is considered the “mother church” of the Diocese of Victoria. About 400 to 500 attend each Mass at Saint Andrew’s, held at various times on Sundays and Saturday evenings.

Fr. Dino marked twenty-nine years in the priesthood in November 2022. He is a man of many talents, with years of study and training, and experience ministering to the faithful in parishes in Canada and the Philippines, but still he finds the St. Andrew’s rectorship a big challenge. Overnight, he had to assume leadership of an existing bureaucracy and spend more time than he expected in administrative duties and responsibilities, tasks that are very different from being a pastor ministering directly to parishioners and enquiring after their lives and well-being.

Fr. Dino wondered whether the fact that he is from a minority ethnic group would be an issue for his mostly white parishioners and whether his ethnicity would be a barrier in his work. It was not too long ago, after all, that he had been asked if he even spoke English.

He need not have worried. Fr. Dino has been warmly embraced by the St. Andrew’s community, who are drawn to him by his clear, confident, and encouraging communication of God’s word. His warm-hearted and smiling persona keeps parishioners regularly coming back, grateful for a welcoming presence in a place where they can seek comfort and peace.

While he has successfully built bridges within the larger community at Saint Andrew’s, Fr. Dino has been a particular gift to many Canadians of Filipino origin who attend church. He has shepherded various Filipino groups who have turned to him for counsel, including members of Couples for Christ and El Shaddai. He organized a Filipino catechism group that meets regularly online.  In 2021, he helped start the first-ever Simbang Gabi at St. Andrew’s, a Filipino novena tradition of nine days of Masses held from December 15 to 23, in anticipation of Christmas.

He led a celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines at St. Andrew’s with special religious events. He has nurtured a loyal crew of altar servers and ushers who used their precious days off to help around the church. 

Fr. Dino is a household name among families of Filipino descent in Victoria that keep him busy with baptisms, wedding anniversaries and even car blessings. Canadian Filipino parishioners find him approachable, accessible, and kind. “Hindi mayabang,” says one. “Madali kausapin.” (He is not arrogant and is easy to talk to.)

His approachability and accessibility are attributes that can only help the Church, an institution which more and more people are finding to be alien and inhospitable. Perhaps Fr. Dino draws his communication skills from years studying mass communications prior to  priesthood. Or perhaps it is from the stage presence he acquired as a member of the Bayanihan Dance Troupe, also prior to priesthood. Years spent at a small parish in Newfoundland and the communities of Alert Bay, Port Slice, Port McNeill, Campbell River and Port Hardy (where he led the Flores De Mayo celebrations at the St. Bonaventure Parish) have also honed his people skills.

Or perhaps the sum is greater than all its parts and Fr. Dino’s experiences combine to make him who he is, with a special flourish added by the Holy Spirit. 

 

Leylah Annie Fernandez Leylah Annie Fernandez  - This is an update on Canadian Filipino tennis star Leylah Annie Fernandez whose  straight-sets victory (6-2, 6-3) over Italy's Jasmine Paolini on November 12, 2023 at the international team tennis tournament in Seville, Spain, helped Team Canada win the Billie Jean King Cup championship for the first time.

Canada’s first win at the Billie Jean King Cup adds another feather for the young Fernandez’s professional career which started at the age of 16 when on June 8, 2019 she became the first Canadian to win the French Open junior singles title at the Roland-Garros clay courts in Paris. 

Aside from being the first Canadian to ever win the French Open juniors, Fernandez also holds  the distinction of winning a junior Grand Slam singles title since Felix Auger-Aliassime won the 2016 junior U.S. Open. She is also the first Canadian female to win a title since Eugenie Bouchard won junior Wimbledon in 2012.

Now 21, she continues to make her mark in international tennis circuits. On October 15, 2023 she rallied to win the Hong Kong Open for her first tennis title in 19 months.

On March 6, 2022 Fernandez defended her title at the Monterrey Open in Mexico, beating out Colombia's Camila Osorio after five match points and a tiebreaker. This is Fernandez’s second consecutive win at the Monterrey Open and her second World Tennis Association (WTA) title of her career. The win skyrocketed her WTA ranking from 72 to 21.

This is Fernandez’s third World Tennis Association (WTA) title and the first since winning at Monterrey in March 2022. Because of her success in representing Canada in international tennis tournaments, she was named one of CFNet’s outstanding Filipinos for 2022. 

 

Kristina Corpin MoserKristina Corpin-Moser –is a lifelong learner and storyteller who is passionate about social justice. Through her 20 years in the for-profit  and non-profit sectors she has curated a people-first and relationship- centred approach to leadership and business. 

Born and raised in Canada by immigrant parents, Kristina is a Filipino, Austrian and Canadian citizen. She got her education in social work at the University of Victoria. Her mother, Mila Corpin-Moser   is Waray-Ati born in Sanggalang, Biliran (Leyte). Her father, Joseph Moser,  is  of Austrian and Ashkenazi Jewish descent.  They met and married in Canada.     

 As the project director of Filipino BC  (August 2022 -  present ) Kristina is  a person to be reckoned with because Filipino BC is the organization spearheading the establishment of a Filipino Cultural and Community Center in Vancouver with the  support  of the municipal, provincial and federal governments of Canada. Her job at Filipino BC is to preserve Filipino Canadian heritage while nurturing future leaders and prioritizing youth well-being, all while celebrating cultural diversity. Her people-first ethos and dedication to relationship-centered leadership have positioned her as a transformative force in shaping inclusive ecosystems.

Guided by feminist, intersectional, and anti-racist frameworks, she navigates diverse landscapes, advocating tirelessly for marginalized communities from urban centers to remote corners of Northern Canada. 

Her collaborative approach, rooted in longstanding relationships with organizations supporting marginalized populations, ensures that Filipino BC’s initiatives benefit not only the Filipino community but also contribute to a broader culture of inclusivity and support for all.   

Kristina's expertise in social-enterprise, diversifying revenue streams, crafting inclusive practices, and amplifying marginalized voices uniquely qualifies her to lead efforts in reshaping the non-profit landscape. Leveraging her extensive experience in community-based participatory research, she spearheads data collection efforts aimed at informing the creation of more inclusive programs tailored to the needs of intersectional, intergenerational, and intercultural communities in BC.  Her work experiences include Director of People & Programs for Gwizhii Institute of Learning (August 2022 - January 2023), Services Manager for Battered Women's Support (August 2021 - August 2022),  and as  Volunteer Coordinator for Jewish Family Services Vancouver  (February 2020 - July 2021).


Editor of Canadian Filipino Net
Eleanor R. Laquian has written four best-selling books, and co-authored four others with husband Prod Laquian. She has served in various capacities at the University of British Columbia’s Institute of Asian Research as manager of administration and programs; editor and chair, publications committee; and primary researcher of the Asian Immigration to Canada project. She has a degree in journalism from Maryknoll College in the Philippines, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of the Philippines. She did postgraduate studies at the School of Public Communications,  Boston University in the U.S.


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