Meeting and making friends in the Philippines
by Kevin Lamoureux, MP for Winnipeg North
Over the years I have made a point to travel to the Philippines for many reasons and last month, I was in the Philippines with my daughter Cindy. We had a productive and wonderful time.
Throughout the trip we had set aside blocks of times to meet with people to talk about immigration and acquiring different types of visas. In fact, we arrived at 5:00 a.m. in Manila and three hours later we were at a Jollibee meeting with people who have families here in Winnipeg.
After close to four hours of meetings, we headed over to the Mall of Asia where we had lunch with representatives of KFC in the Philippines. Cindy and I wanted to meet with this group because of their connection to Canada, in particular Winnipeg. Did you know that there are 16 KFC outlets in Winnipeg that are owned by a company in the Philippines?
After that wonderful lunch, Cindy and I checked into our hotel and went for one of several walks that we took in Pasay. On our second last day, we were in Pasay where we met Reynaldo Legaspi, Punong Barangay (Barangay Captain) of Barangay 145, Zone 16. We talked about grassroots services, politics, and we witnessed so many happy volunteers and staff who were eager to talk with us and about Canada.
Over the years I have built up a wonderful relationship with the Philippine Embassy here in Ottawa and they were very helpful in setting up a couple of meetings for me. The first one was with the Department of foreign affairs where we were able to discuss a wide variety of issues related to the relationship between Canada and the Philippines. Former Ambassador Robles took the time to meet with us over a lunch followed by a wonderful supper in Makati, which was followed by a desert in his home. It was Filipino hospitality at its best.
With the assistance of the ambassador and the embassy we had the honour to meet with Manila’s new mayor. Mayor “Honey” Lacuna was fabulous as we talked about issues like tourism and Canada’s growing Filipino community. After our meeting, Mayor Honey took us up to the recently opened clock tower where there is a relatively small but very impressive museum – a must-see if you happen to visit the City Hall grounds. We also went outside where a band was playing as we went to a marker where we recognized nine Canadians who lost their lives during WWII in the Pacific theatre. I was really touched when Mayor Maria Sheilah Honrado Lacuna-Pangan presented a key to me, as it was a wonderful gesture of friendship and truly appreciated.
We did get a chance to go out to Bulacan for a day where we checked out an ANCOP village and met with Governor Daniel Fernando. I should thank my ate Claretta for making those arrangements. As one would expect, we met with a number of representatives from the Canadian embassy dealing with the issues of immigration, trade and international aid.
Cindy and I really enjoyed meeting the many people in the different parts of Manila to talk about coming to Canada and we look forward to seeing them again.
Finally, I would note that, like every tourist who goes to Metro Manila, Cindy and I enjoyed many different restaurants including Potato Corner (a fast-food restaurant that we now have in Winnipeg). We did lots of walking in markets and even had the chance to ride on the MRT. Overall, Cindy and I enjoyed the people and the many things we were able to do. Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas.