|Inkster MLA Kevin Lamoureux returned to Winnipeg on February 11 from a trip to the Philippines where he conducted immigration workshops in four provinces. Lamoureux explained the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program to potential immigrants in Cavite, Pangasinan, Bulacan and Laguna.
Lamoureux also met with University of the Philippines president Dr. Emerlinda Roman to discuss establishing an academic relationship between the UP and Manitoba Universities. The MLA also attended a mass with Fr. Enrique Samson of Winnipeg’s St. Peter’s Church on his home island of Siquijor in the Visayas. Kevin Lamoureux shares details of his trip in this special report. – Editor
The primary purpose of my trip to the Philippines was to provide information to people who were interested in immigrating to Canada through the Manitoba Nominee program. The four workshops went well, drawing over 2000 participants.
Academic ties between Canada & the Philippines
Another reason for the trip was to explore the possibility of establishing academic ties between Philippine and Manitoban universities. I raised this issue in the Manitoba Legislature back in May 2009 when I talked about how we should be encouraging more and better communication between Universities in Manitoba and universities in countries like the Philippines.
In fact, I wrote a story in the Pilipino Express last September commenting on what I, and others, believe could be taking place between universities. I reported on a discussion that I had with Dr. Lloyd Axworthy who is the President of the University of Winnipeg. Mr. Axworthy seemed to be very open to having a dialog regarding the possible role that the U of W could play internationally and in particular with the Filipino community here in Winnipeg.
While I was in the Philippines I visited the University of the Philippines and Bulacan State University. Both University Presidents were generous with their time and provided me with the opportunity to share my thoughts and receive feedback. While my meeting with Bulacan State University president Mariano C. De Jesus was a courtesy visit, my visit to the University of the Philippines, Diliman, was more formal and I was invited to be a guest lecturer to a group of public administration students.
Like Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, the President of UP, Dr. Emerlinda Roman was very encouraging in her comments and willingness to talk about the possibility of exploring options here in Canada. Even though the University of the Philippines has over two hundred agreements with other universities around the world, they do not have any agreements to date with any university here in Canada. That statement in itself speaks to the possibility of a great opportunity for those prepared to pursue it.
An agreement is achievable and could include everything from credited crossover courses being recognized to exchanging professors between universities. Winnipeg could be a leader by establishing a program of academic courses in various disciplines with a Filipino focus, which would be unique here in Canada.
As the Filipino community continues to grow in Canada and more non-Filipinos take an interest in the Philippines, now is the time to develop something truly unique here in Canada. Other individuals and groups have talked about it and there has been some success in some areas. Given the benefits of having a formal agreement, I believe establishing communication links and encouraging dialog is a step in the right direction.
A visit to Siquijor
As important as the workshops and the meetings were, I would like to share with you another part of the trip that I really enjoyed.
Eventually, when I retire, I hope to spend a part of January somewhere nice and warm – a winter paradise. They do exist and I now have at least one place that I will be returning to. With crystal clear water and a reported crime rate of zero percent, this is a place that has so much to offer. It is a little island called Siquijor in the Central Visayas region.
I personally experienced this island by chance. My friend Luchie Sanchez informed me that Msgr. Samson from St. Peter’s Church here in Winnipeg was on a medical and dental mission on Siquijor Island. I decided to extend my stay so that I would be able to visit Fr. Samson and that decision led me to see a different side to the Philippines.
While on the island I was able to enjoy its natural beauty, check out the mission, meet a lot of people and participate in a wonderful mass. Fr. Samson’s spiritual and physical leadership was inspiring as he demonstrated a caring, loving heart for hundreds who live on the island. I was able to attend one of the masses and found it to be a great experience. Even though the service was not in English, it was the atmosphere and the people who impressed me most.
The church service was inside an older building but once inside you got the sense of being in a place that was one with nature and the Lord. With beautiful murals on the walls, birds flying around inside, a couple of dogs walking in the isles, the sounds of nature around you and, of course, a church full of people, it was easy to feel comfortable.
There were a few young children sitting in front of me who kept turning around and looking back at me. I probably looked a little out of place. I offered them some Manitoba Golden Boy pins that I happened to have with me and the smiles that followed were amazing.
This little island provided me a lasting impression and I would like to thank Msgr. Samson for his generosity and for making time to spend with me and with my best friend Henry Celones.
Report by Kevin Lamoureux, MLA for Inkster