By Evelyn A. Opilas
October 22, 2016
The last thing you’d do when travelling overseas is to look for another Filipino unless the meeting had been pre-arranged but guess what – there are millions of expat Pinoys out there you could bump into and remind you of your ‘Filipino-ness’ and be proud of it.
For example, cruise ships seem to have a majority of Filipino crew – in customer service, in engineering, in housekeeping. They sacrifice time away from home and deal with sea and sky so their families could have a bright future. In the meantime they have stories, jokes and experiences to share to willing listeners wading through brekky, lunch or dinner at the cruise ship buffet.
Far away in the Pyrenees, the unlikely dishes of binagoongan and pancit grace a food bar for pilgrims. Filipino food is on offer along with French culinary staples at a small carinderia in Lourdes, France that proudly waves a Filipino flag, the eatery managed by a Filipina and her French husband. We meet other Filipino pilgrims from Spain and the UK, also amazed that non-Filipinos actually savour binagoongan.
And recently while strolling along a cobblestoned street in Quebec City, we bump into a souvenir shop that flies a full-length Philippine flag.
‘That’s for Filipinos to know there’s someone here they can come to,’ says proprietor Jayne Artuz, an Ilonga who counts the late Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago as her ‘Ninang’.
Crew members of luxury liners, souvenir hunters, and curious customers like my sisters and I are greeted with a warm smile, Jayne happy to share her knowledge of what to do, where to go and how to get around Quebec City. She offers to drive us around if she can find out what time her son would finish school. Offer politely declined, we had a 5 a.m. flight to catch.
In Montreal home carer Jeyphine Villaruel takes us around Filipino-relevant sites – the bust of Dr Jose Rizal on Mackenzie Park, the Filipino bakery for some morning pan de sal, and the Filipino restaurant-cum-caterer for lunch. Not to miss out was a photo opportunity in front of a Filipino ‘pansitan’.
OTTAWA, CANADA --- Scarborough, Ontario resident George R. Poblete, received the Queen's Sovereign Medal for Volunteers from the Right Honourable Governor General David Johnston, during a formal presentation ceremony made at the Rideau Hall at 1 Sussex Drive in Ottawa, on April 24, 2017. (in photo: Queen’s Sovereign Medal for Volunteers awardee George R. Poblete(left) with Right Honourable Governor General...
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