On Global Filipinos: A historic time for Filipino Canadians, the founding of FCNC

From left (seated): Mary Jane Napolitano, Narima Dela Cruz, Treenee Lopez, Atty. Loida Nicolas Lewis, Honorary Consul General Connie Lacson, Genalyn Tan, Mary Grace Ocampo Goldenberg; (standing) Aurora Viernes, Arlene Evangelista, Butch Juson, Jake Salcedo, Virginia Sumalinog, Eddie Villarta, and Ronnie Dela Gana

By Loida Nicolas Lewis

Last May, in Vancouver Canada, I was hosted by Filipino Canadians Treenee Lopez, and Lenore and Jose Lim, for my book tour of “Why Should Guys Have All The Fun?”

Treenee asked me to attend an organization of Filipinos in Halifax Nova Scotia Canada to be held on June 1st. She is a member of Global Filipino Diaspora Council formed when my sister Imelda Nicolas was secretary of the Commission of Filipino Overseas (CFO) in 2011.

The idea of being at the “birth” of Filipino Canadians coming together into a national body — the Filipino Canadians National Congress (FCNC) — was too tempting, so I said yes. I was glad I did because in Halifax NS I met incredible Filipino Canadians who have made successful careers and good living in that part of North America.

The day before the Congress, we were invited into the wonderful home of the Honorary Consul General Connie Lacson. She left the Philippines with her children as a single mother in March of 2008 and immigrated to Canada through the Nominee Program of Nova Scotia.  She was appointed on May 2019 as a Philippine Consul General.

That night, I met the founder and president of FCNC Narima Dela Cruz. She has always believed in the need to connect and coordinate the Filipino community, its various organizations and leaders into one national body. When she met the Member of Parliament (MP) Kevin Lamoureux in Winnipeg in September 2019, he was greatly supportive of the idea.

When they met again virtually a year later in 2020 amid the pandemic, FCNC was conceived, directly affiliated with the Canada Philippines Interparliamentary Friendship Group then chaired by Lamoureux. 

In February 18, 2021, the Virtual Inaugural Ceremony of FCNC inducted 13 Filipino Canadian leaders designated as founding directors and 6 executive officers. Another director from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan was later added to make up 14 directors.

The first FCNC Convention was held in June 2022 in Ottawa Ontario where the entire board of directors attended in person for the first time. The Second Convention was going to be held on June 3, 2023, which was why I arrived June 2nd.

From left (seated): Jake Salcedo (Nova Scotia), Narima Dela Cruz (BC), Atty. Loida Nicolas Lewis, MP Rick Perkins, Treenee Lopez (BC); (standing) Butch Juson (Saskatchewan), Arlene Evangelista, FCNC Accountant (Manitoba), Gina Moreno (New Brunswick), Chris Rodriguez (Saskatchewan), Genalyn Tan (Manitoba), Aurora Viernes (Yukon), Virginia Sumalinog (Alberta), Mary Jane Napolitano (Manitoba), Mary Grace Ocampo Goldenberg (Quebec), Eddie Villarta (Ontario), and Ronnie Dela Gana (Ontario). Photos courtesy of FCNC

On the eve of the convention, ConGen Connie Lacson invited all of the board members and myself to dinner.

Aside from President Narima (British Columbia) who has the distinction of being the first Filipino woman to be included in the prestigious Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award in 2011, I met the following leaders:

-1st Vice President Ronnie Dela Gana (Ontario), the co-founder and chair of the Golden Balangay Foundation which organizes a nationwide search for outstanding Filipino Canadians.

-2nd President  Genalyn Aseron Tan (Manitoba), a successful businesswoman who also works as a Filipino Language Proficiency Examiner/Coordinator in the Winnipeg School Division. 

-Secretary Eddie Vallarta (Ontario), an I.T. professional who currently works as Network Services Manager and teaches part-time at Carleton University’s School of Information Technology.

-Assistant Secretary Virginia Sumalinog (Alberta), a former school teacher and the successful owner of Ellwood Day Care and Out of School Care in Edmonton.

-Treasurer Mary Jane Napolitano (Manitoba), an elementary school teacher at Dufferin School in Winnipeg, and president of the Manitoba Association of Filipino Teachers Incorporated (MAFTI).

-Treasurer Jake Salcedo (Nova Scotia),  former president of the Filipino Association of Nova Scotia (FANS), who works as Data Manager of the Department of Medicine, Nova Scotia Health Authority. 

The rest of the members of the Board:  

-Aurora Viernes (Yukon), president of the Canadian Filipino Association in the Yukon (CFAY) who has been working with the Yukon Territorial Government for over 20 years now.

-Chris Rodriguez (Saskatchewan), an active member of the United Filipino Entrepreneurs Association (UFEA) of Red Deer and is the host/producer of The Chris Rod Show and Broadcast One Flipside Talk Radio.

-Gina Moreno (New Brunswick),  president of the Filipino Community of New Brunswick (FCNB) and is also a Managing Director for the New Brunswick Multicultural Council.

-Jerry Caingcoy (Alberta), a career public servant for 15 years now at the local government of The City of Calgary, and is the founder and president of The Filipino Champions of Canada (TFCC). 

-Mary Grace Ocampo Goldenberg (Quebec), a registered nurse who works at the Montreal Neurological Hospital (MNH) and is also the president of Filipino Nurses Association of Quebec, Inc. (FNAQ). 

-Ramon “Butch” Juson (Saskatchewan), a family advocate and the lead Council of Servants lead pastor for Christ’s Commission Fellowship Prince Albert in Saskatchewan. 

Of course, Treenee Lopez (British Columbia), a retired nurse and the founder and chair of the Global Pinoy Diaspora Canada (GPDC),  who invited me in the first place.

The group’s auditor, also a volunteer, Arlene Evangelista (Winnipeg, Manitoba)  a Certified General Accountant (CGA), was also present.

The evening ended in laughter and camaraderie, everyone filled with the delicious sumptuous feast of lobster galore (Halifax is Lobster Capital of Canada) and huge array of sushi and sashimi, prepared by Filipino Canadian Chef Jay Paran. 

I was presented and interviewed by Eddie Villarta and Regina Sosing who posed questions about my memoir “Why Should Guys Have All The Fun? An Asian American Story of Love, Marriage, Motherhood and Running à Billion Dollar Empire.” Q and A followed which I replied with candor and humor.

As I boarded the plane, I was thankful to God and filled with the knowledge that, like the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) founded by Alex Esclamado, Rodel Rodis, Michael Dadap and myself some 26 years ago in 1997, the FCNC is alive and well and thriving in Canada.

(C) The FilAm 2023

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