Jul 20, 2024

The annual Pinays Manitoba Trailblazers Recognition Awards was a resounding success, drawing a large turnout from the community on Saturday, May 11, 2024, to celebrate this year’s honorees at the Viscount Gort Hotel. The four Trailblazer Awardees were joined by the three Young Pinays Awardees during the recognition ceremonies. Pictured from left to right are Hope Anderson, Virginia Gayot, Hanna Pagdato, Hon. Senator Flordeliz (Gigi) Osler, Jordy Wyant, Larissa Pagdato, Andrea Macasaet, and Cheryl Dizon-Reynante.

June 16, 2024 – As the Filipino community in Manitoba expands, so does the presence of Pinays or Filipino women making positive impacts across diverse fields in our society. Pinay is a word that refers to a girl or woman of Filipino descent.

The Pinays Manitoba Trailblazers Recognition Awards took place on May 11, 2024, at the Viscount Gort Hotel. This annual event, now in its eighth year, is organized by Pinays Manitoba Inc.,to showcase their ongoing dedication to celebrating women who demonstrate leadership, inspiration, and motivation through the Pinays Manitoba Trailblazers initiative. More than 50 members of Pinays Manitoba collaborated to host the evening, which drew over 250 guests to honour the remarkable achievements of Filipino women.

“We proudly celebrate four outstanding Pinays Manitoba Trailblazers. They are strong progressive women; breaking the mold; overcoming barriers; helping to make a difference in people’s lives, opening doors of opportunities for others; breaking glass ceilings. All of them, role models for women and the next generation of Filipino women in Manitoba,” said Pinays Manitoba president Winnie Navarro.

This is also the year that the Pinays launched its youth program, the 2024 Outstanding Young Pinays of Manitoba. The Hon. Senator Flordeliz (Gigi) Osler, herself a Pinay Trailblazer awardee, officially launched the Outstanding Young Pinays of Manitoba initiative.

“Our initial honourees are three inspiring young Pinays who are proud of their Filipino heritage and share their passion for hockey with our community. Expect more, in the coming years, from these young trailblazers in the making,” added Navarro.

The guests enjoyed an outstanding lineup of entertainers. Rochelle Kives performed “Flowers,” Paul Ong sang “Climb Every Mountain,” and Trailblazer awardee Andrea Macasaet captivated the audience with her rendition of “Don’t Forget Me” from the musical‘Smash.”

Another memorable moment in the program was the special tribute to mothers. As the event coincided with Mother’s Day eve, Nena Joy Lazo delivered a heartfelt homage to her own mother and to all mothers in attendance.

Meghan Marquez and Lucille Nolasco-Garrido of 92.7 FM CKJS Afternoon Pasada emceed the program. Cora Delos Reyes led the opening prayer. Faith Fundal, host of CBC Manitoba’s Up to Speed, performed the national anthems, Lupang Hinirang and O Canada. Lesalie Pagat joined the emcees on stage to acknowledge sponsors and guests. Trailblazer award presenters were Crystal Paculan, Lucille Nolasco, Belle De Leon Lerio, Melody Balane, and Myrna Ong.

The Registration committee was led by Connie De Villa along with Leah Beltran, TrifonaBermisa, Josie Concepcion, and Belle Lerio. Sally Bader oversaw the ushering with assistance from Melody Balane, Remy Amoyo, Victoria Cochico, Emily Sapon, Jojo Lerio and Rodge Lopez. Glenna Pangindian managed the production assistant team with Marita Salazar, Josie Concepcion, Cora Delos Reyes, and Remy Amoyo. Set design and event photography were by Rey-Ar Reyes of Pilipino Express and Disenyo Graphics. Event video coverage was by Jake Arida. The sound system was managed by Enrico Ancheta.

Luella Sadicon, Vice-President of Pinays Manitoba, concluded the event with these words: “We are immensely grateful for your presence and the warm community support we received for this year’s event. Special thanks to our major sponsors: Larry Vickar of Vickar Automotive Group, Wes McCallum of The Prolific Group, Pilipino Express, Felly Grieve of A-1 Nutrition, Noel Lapuz of Kuya’s Foods, Aida Montierro of U-MAC Express Winnipeg, and Atty. Rachel Punzalan of Punzalan Law.”

The Pinays Manitoba Board of Directors are Winnie Navarro, President; Luella Sadicon, Vice-President; Leah S. Beltran, CPA, CGA, Treasurer; Connie De Villa, Auditor; Lucille Nolasco-Garrido, Secretary; Emmie Joaquin, Public Relations; Araceli Ancheta, Director/Past-President; Josie Concepcion, Director; Maybelle De Leon-Lerio, Director; Margaret “Meghan” Marquez, Director; and Marita Salazar, Director.


The 2024 Pinays Trailblazer awardees(in alphabetical order) are:

Hope Anderson is the first Vice Dean of Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies at the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences (University of Manitoba). She is an investigator of cardiovascular health and disease, with multiple awards and publications to her credit. Hope takes pride in having mentored numerous Master’s and Ph.D. students, along with post-doctoral fellows, throughout her career. She is dedicated to mentoring and preparing future thinkers. In her professional capacity, Hope is a scientist, educator, and academic leader at the University of Manitoba.

Cheryl Dizon-Reynante is the first Filipino woman to serve as the Clinical Lead of Psychosocial Oncology at Cancer Care Manitoba. She oversees 20 counsellors across the province and remains actively involved in seeing clients herself. The counsellors under Cheryl’s leadership provide emotional, mental, and social support to patients throughout their cancer journey, offering individual, couple, family, and group therapy sessions. Cheryl’s guiding principle is to assist and support others. She discovered her passion for helping people in her profession, which gives her a sense of purpose, inspiration, and meaning in life.

Virginia Gayot is a prominent leader in Manitoba’s Filipino community. She currently serves as the President of the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba (PCCM). Virginia’s strong dedication has guided the organization toward greater trust and respect within the community. Proud of her indigenous heritage from the Cordillera region, Virginia previously led the BIBAK Association of Manitoba and served as a board member of Siloam Mission

Andrea Macasaet is a celebrated Filipino Canadian performer born and raised in Winnipeg, known for her talents in acting and singing. She gained recognition for originating the role of Anne Boleyn in the international Broadway production of SIX: The Musical. Andrea also played Mimi Rodriguez in RENT at the prestigious Stratford Festival in Canada. Andrea is witnessing a positive shift towards diversity in the theatre world and is actively advocating to break barriers for people of colour in theatre.

The 2024 Outstanding Young Pinays of Manitoba

Pinays Manitoba recognized three young Filipino Canadian women – sisters Larissa Pagdato and Hanna Pagdato, along with Jordy Wyant. These young Winnipeggers played for the Philippine Eagles at the Women’s Union tournament in Al Ain, UAE. Wyant and the Pagdato sisters excelled, helping the team secure bronze. Despite limited resources for hockey in the Philippines, their performance stood out. Hannah, Larissa, and Jordy each received a Player of the Game trophy, with Jordy being the tournament’s top scorer. All three were selected for the all-star game, inspiring future Filipino women hockey players in Manitoba and the Philippines.

These remarkable young Pinays are grateful for the opportunity and experience that allowed them to connect with their roots and embrace pride in their Filipino heritage and culture. Representing the Philippines on an international stage has fueled their passion for hockey to transcend borders, making history in the world of women’s ice hockey.

Sandie Oreta

 Emmie Joaquin is the editor-in-chief of Pilipino Express, a news magazine published in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She has received three Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medals: Gold (2002), Diamond (2012), and Platinum (2022) for her contributions to media and community service. She earned her degree in broadcast communication from the University of the Philippines and worked in media and public relations before immigrating to Canada in 1988. In 1989, Emmie produced and co-hosted Good Morning Philippines, the first Filipino weekday morning drive radio program. She also launched the afternoon-drive show Manila Sound and a Saturday show on CKJS Radio, serving Winnipeg’s growing Filipino community before the internet era. After nearly 15 years in radio, she became Special Assistant for Communications to Dr. Rey Pagtakhan, then Federal Minister of Western Economic Diversification. Currently, in addition to managing Pilipino Express, she is also a Financial Advisor with W.P.G.-The Wealth Planning Group.

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