Earlier this year, The Filipino Champions of Canada conducted a nationwide search across Canada to select the most deserving Filipino Canadians as this year’s recipients of The Filipino Champions of the Year Awards in celebration of the Philippine Heritage Month as declared by the Province of Alberta followed by the House of Commons unanimous declaration of M-155 which designated the month of June of each year as Filipino Heritage Month across the country to recognize the invaluable contributions of the 935,000 Filipinos in terms of civic, social, economic, cultural including faith and language skills that helped enriched the great Canadian society.
On June 14, 2019, 6PM at Max’s Restaurant Calgary, TFCC awarded the 12 national awardees from Toronto, Surrey, Winnipeg and Calgary respectively at the The TFCC of the Year Awards & Heritage Gala. The event was very well-attended by community organizations, business sector, media, influential personalities and government representatives headed by the Minister of Community and Social Services, Rajan Sawhney,on behalf of Alberta’s Premier, Jason Kenney, and the Philippine Consulate General, Gilberto Asuque.
“What makes this award unique and meaningful is that it focuses on the champion stories of our people and our community through these men and women who exemplify the values and traits of being a part of Filipino culture. As we celebrate The Filipino Heritage Month, it is important that we recognize and honour them for their hardwork and dedication to their respective careers; their unparalleled service to the Filipino community and their important contribution in building this great Canadian society. As awardees, they will serve as our shining examples to inspire of all us and celebrate the champion in each and everyone of us!” Jerry Caingcoy, TFCC Founder and President.
The 12 National Awardees as The Filipino Champions of the Year (in alphabetical order).
Marites (Tes) Aiello is a certified recruiter and coach with the largest Financial Institution in Canada, The Royal Bank of Canada. Born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, she is a first generation Filipino Canadian as her mother, Teresita (Lozano) Ramos made Canada her home in the 1960’s as one of 9 Filipino nurses who were hired at the Winnipeg General Hospital (now known as Heath Sciences Centre). Tes has been working in the financial industry for 13 years and currently specializes in HR, recruitment. She has received several community awards at RBC. Tes has been volunteering actively in the Filipino community since 1983 and is a large part of the vibrant and large Filipino community in Manitoba of over 65,000. She began her journey as a performer for the Magdaragat Philippines Dance Troupe. She returned as a teacher in 2008, a volunteer backstage, the pavilion ambassador in 2012, the pavilion co- coordinator in 2014 -2015 and is currently a proud parent of two performers for the Pearl of the Orient Philippine Pavilion, the only Filipino Pavilion in the largest and longest Cultural Festival, Folklorama. She is also a current director on the Folklorama Board of Directors. Folklorama is celebrating its 50th year of promoting diversity and cultural understanding here in Winnipeg and is only the third Filipino to have the honour of being on the Board of Directors. Tes has also been instrumental in prospering and preserving culture for board of directors in Winnipeg including the Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba (recently stepped down as Vice President, Community and Sponsorship), The Manitoba Filipino Business Council (original board member), and the Pinays of Manitoba (Filipino Women’s group).
Born in the province of Quezon, Jose, better known as Jun Angeles, migrated to Canada on June 1, 1969 and recently celebrated his 50 years in Canada. As one of the Filipino pioneers in Alberta, he encountered so many challenges in life. As a young man who had just graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a Bachelor of Science degree in Foreign Service (Cum Laude) and with no working experience, he challenged all the hurdles that came his way. He worked all sorts of job, travelled the world and discovered what life has to offer. But after all the searching, he settled back in Edmonton to raise a family with his wife and three children. His story is common, nothing extraordinary but how he became successful is a story in and of itself. His passion to succeed in his chosen profession as a Financial Adviser, his passion to help other aspiring business colleagues, his passion to contribute to the community and promote his native land, its culture and traditions are imminent in his life story. He became a publisher of the widely read Alberta Filipino Journal, garnered educational courses and degrees in business, achieving the titles of Chartered Financial Consultant (CHFC), Chartered Financial Planner (CFC) and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU). But he takes the most pride in giving back to the community as a leader and founder of different Filipino organizations. Presently, he is the president of the Congress of the Philippine Associations of Alberta (COPAA). His life revolves around his love for his family, countrymen and Canada that adopted him and where his dream came true.
Ramon Cairo is an internationally educated & trained Structural Engineer, studied engineering at Divine Word University of Tacloban and University of Manitoba as well as Project Management at Red River College. Licensed Professional Engineer in five (5) Canadian Provinces since 2008.
Currently works as Director of Engineering at Paterson GlobalFoods Inc. since 2007. Owner & President of Cairo Engineering Ltd, a structural engineering firm based in Winnipeg. One of the founders and 1st President of Filipino Members Chapter of Engineers Geoscientist Manitoba, an engineering association chapter of EGM to help and encourage fellow Filipino internationally educated and trained engineers get Canadian engineering license. President of Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba Inc. Helped more than 30 friends and relatives immigrate to Canada.
Prior to his move to Winnipeg in July 2004, worked and lived in Saipan, USA for 10 years and 3 years in Saudi Arabia.
Mark Calvelo is the President & CEO – Complete Real Estate Group and Director of Calvelo Holdings & Investment Corporation Mark Calvelo is a serial entrepreneur. A 25+ year seasoned business development and award-winning real estate professional with a proven track record of assisting clients with their real estate transactions – from single-family homes to multi-unit real estate developments, and helping local companies improve their gross profit 10x within a five-year period. As a true-Calgarian, Mark’s up-to-date knowledge of current market trends, pricing fluctuations and inventory is supplemented by his historical information about his hometown Calgary and area. Mark’s commitment to his clients is the keystone to his success. He is passionate about bringing a positive impact to anyone and everyone that he meets. Along with his philanthrop-spirit, this has led him to partner with the Calgary Health Trust (CHT). Mark provides services to Calgary’s Alberta Health Services (AHS) health care professionals to ensure that they save time, money and stress while at the same time giving money back to the CHT so they can continue to transform health care in Alberta. With an approachable demeanor, caring attitude and keen sense of humour, Mark Calvelo is well respected amongst his peers, clients and friends. He is described as an exceptional leader, educator, mentor and friend.
Narima Dela Cruz is the first Filipino woman in Canada, and the first Filipino in B.C. to be recognized with a Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award in 2012. She is the Founder of SPIDS, the Filipino organization in Surrey for the past 11 years. She has been involved in various mainstream volunteer-based and service-oriented groups in Metro Vancouver.
Narima is a Licensed Realtor by profession and was given a ‘Realtors Care Award’ by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver for her extensive works in the community. She also works as a Court & Medical Interpreter.
Narima was a Councillor candidate for Surrey First in the 2018 Civic Election and even if not elected, garnered 23, 790 votes.
Her most recent accomplishment was having direct involvement in the petition signing for the Filipino Heritage Month, and this was acknowledged by MP Salma Zahid on her Opening Debate speech.
“In 2011, I finished Practical Nursing, I worked at the Foothills Hospital ( Cardiac Unit) soon after. I worked at a number of retirement facilities as well. I went back to school to advance my skills and adding ( advance footcare). I started my private practice doing footcare for retirement residences. Grew my clientle from 2 people to 400+ by 2015. I felt I needed help, a strategic partner to help me with operations. I entered an event called “Tiger Cage”. It was a 2 day event in Calgary and Edmonton. You get to pitch your business in front of investors and you’ll have a chance to get a strategic partner. They will only pick 1 Entrepreneur. On August 15, 2017,they made me an offer I cannot refuse. 2019,we now have 4 Locations in Calgary and 1 in Cochrane and 70 employees strong.”
At the age of 32, Pilar Kowalchuk left her administration job at an insurance company in Makati, traveled alone to Hong Kong to work as a nanny for 2 years. In 2008 She landed in Canada where she was a nanny for a family living in the NW of Calgary. In the spring of 2016, Pinky decided she would like to become a personal trainer. While she was going to school to be a personal trainer, she was also very active in the gym. One day one of the trainers told Pinky if she started prepping for a competition she would win. This planted a seed. For the next 12 months she was studying everything she could about personal training and competitive bodybuilding. In March of 2017 she took the plunge. She started prepping for her first competition, and in May 2017 came in 2nd place in INBF natural Bodybuilding Bikini. Since then she has completed her personal training certification, and currently works as a trainer at World Health downtown Calgary. Since her first competition she has risen to the top of the podium and recently placed 1st in both Bikini A and Masters, securing her position to compete at the national level. She is currently launching her own personal training business, focusing on mom’s who want to get their ‘sexy’ back, as well as training for her next competition in July 2019.
Flora Kupsch, Winners of the Canadian National Cowboy action shooting Championship Top lady champion between 2001-2004 and 2010 Western Cowboy action shooting sports received numerous award.
Flora Kupsch winner for Montana USA State Championship Cowboy action shooting year 2002 and 2004 number one Top Lady and received numerous trophy awards. She is the winner and hold the number one Top Lady Coeur d’Alene Idaho USA Cowboy Action shooting State Championship Year 2004 and received a Trophy.
Flora Kupsch Won the Top Lady for Alberta Provincial Championship for International Practical Confederation Shooting competition (IPSC) 2011 and won Gemma Award Filipino Karilagan Dance Society Edmonton in 2004.
Flora Kupsch 4th place Lady winner for World cowboy action shooting Championship 2004. She appeared in Televisions, CTV Alberta Extreme, Global TV CFRN Chatelaine magazine, Edmonton Sun, Edmonton Journal Globe and Mail 630 chef radio Flora Kupsch winner documentary film received grant amount of $20,000 from the Government and films four times nominees Gemma Award and received numerous Trophy awards.
Beverly, or Smile to her family, is a Lawyer in the Wills & Estate Group at McLeod Law. Beverly is an internationally trained lawyer. She graduated from the Ateneo De Manila School of Law in 2015. Prior to moving to Canada she practiced corporate and tax law for seven years in the Philippines. She was a Senior Tax Consultant at one of the ‘Big Four’ global accounting firms. She also worked as a Court Attorney and Chief of Staff in the Philippine Court of Tax Appeals. While Beverly was taking her Certificate of Qualification to practice law in Canada through the National Committee on Accreditation of The Federation of Law Societies of Canada, she worked as Paralegal in the Foreclosure Group of McLeod Law.Beverly was called to the Bar and became a full-fledged Canadian Lawyer in 2017.
Rosanna Penilla-Bharucha is an award-winning serial entrepreneur whose wealth of experience includes child and elder care services, event management, strategic marketing, and business development coaching for startups. Rosanna has been living with her family in Mississauga since 1996. She has built a diverse community by connecting people and by bringing them together through her annual events. As an entrepreneur, she gained experience, learned from challenges, and became well-connected in the multicultural communities with diverse businesses. Rosanna’s most recent accomplishment of 2019 include being one of the 8 entrepreneurship speakers at the IEP 2019 Conference and the Men of Honour Awards Gala, where 100 men were honoured and recognized for their contribution to York Region. Rosanna has landed coverage in print and broadcast outlets within Canada and Overseas for advocacy in Senior Care and Baby Boomers and interviews on Entrepreneurship and Women Empowerment. As the Founder of the Boomerpreneurs Network, Absolutely Fabulous Women Awards and Men of Honour Awards, her efforts and initiatives were recognized by various government officials. She is a recipient of the Women of Courage Award, Rise to Radiate Award, and Brilliant Minded Women Award. Rosanna is an official speaker of Passages Canada and her immigration story was featured by Regional Diversity Roundtable in celebration of Canada 150. Rosanna holds a Bachelor of Science in Commerce in Marketing from Far Eastern University in Manila, Philippines.
Dr. Rey Rosales is an award-winning professor and chair of the Department of Communication at MacEwan University in Edmonton. He served as the associate dean for the Faculty of Fine Arts and Communications from 2009-2017. Dr. Rosales holds a PhD in Journalism from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and a master’s in radio-television from Arkansas State. He was a Fulbright scholar and a visiting fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr. Rosales completed a management program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Prior to coming to Canada, he taught for a decade at a Catholic university in Chicago where he won prestigious international awards. Dr. Rosales held a number of prestigious fellowships including the American Press Institute Fellowship, the Hollywood Fellowship (Emmy’s), International Radio-TV Society Fellowship, American Society of Newspaper Editors, among others. He graduated magna cum laude from Divine Word University of Tacloban majoring in mass communication.
Desiree Tan is a Team Lead and Senior Defence Lawyer at the Legal Aid Alberta Youth Office. She defends young persons charged with offences under the Youth Criminal Justice Act and the Criminal Code of Canada. Originally from Winnipeg, she obtained her law degree from the University of Manitoba in 2011. Desiree was first exposed to criminal law when she volunteered with the legal aid clinic at the University. She articled with a well-known criminal defence firm in Winnipeg, and later worked there as an associate lawyer. In 2013, she joined the Youth Criminal Defence Office, a branch of Legal Aid, in Edmonton before moving to their Calgary office in 2014, the office that she now manages. She has successfully argued cases up to the Supreme Court of Canada and she is passionate about Human Rights, Constitutional and Criminal Law, as well as advocating for youths. She goes back to Winnipeg to visit her family often and travels to the Philippines or other tropical destinations when she able to get away from her work for longer than a week. She always makes sure she never forgets her Filipino roots and where she came from.
About TFCC of The Year Awards
• To recognize the importance of the Filipino-Canadian Professionals and their contribution to Canada’s economic development and image as a free and welcoming country.
• To celebrate the accomplishments of our fellow countrymen by recognizing their hard work and dedication to their respective careers.
• To bring the community together by inspiring them through the recognition of our outstanding professionals.
• To carry out TFCC’s Core mission – Connect, Share, Inspire.
•To live TFCC’s values – RICE- Respect, Integrity, Community, Excellence
Why is this important?
TFCC has been a platform for outstanding Filipinos in Canada who have achieved great achievements for themselves and for their community.
June is Canada’s Philippine Heritage Month. Part of our heritage is hard work, dedication to our careers, and providing excellent value to the organizations we work for. This is part of our culture.
This is part of our heritage that we want to celebrate and focus on. Filipinos are more than just the different cultures from different islands, or the unique foods we prepare, or the dances that we perform. Our culture is that of progress, contribution, industry, hard work, and leadership.
The Filipinos are one of the biggest sources of labor force for Canada. It is the fastest growing ethnic group. From the fast food restaurants, hospitality industries, medical, engineering to telecommunications, Filipinos are present.
It is time that we celebrate the men and women who get up each working day to represent themselves and their community. This is what the TFCC of the Year Award is about.