If you don’t have money and need medical attention in the Philippines you die, said Sheila May Annang, one of the two founders of Shandigang Pinoy.
The non-profit organization – that helps Filipinos have a sense of community, not forget where they came from and smoothly transition to life on P.E.I. – celebrated its first anniversary March 16, with traditional music, dance, and a potluck lunch at Trinity United Church in Summerside.
“In Canada, you have a health card and can visit the hospital without needing money and education is free," Annang said. "But where I’m from, the Cagayan Valley in the Philippines, it was crowded and hot. It floods, and temperatures can soar to 40 degrees in the summer."
Annang’s family immigrated to Canada after meeting the requirements for the provincial nominee program under family connection. They stayed briefly in Ottawa, before moving to Toronto, but it wasn’t the life for them.
In 2011, Annang and her family ditched the skyscrapers and traffic for the quiet life in Summerside.
But while moving presented many opportunities, it was definitely not all sunshine and rainbows.
“I missed (and still miss) the culture back in the Philippines. The lively celebrations, great variety of food, dancing, and singing that can be found at a party,” she said.
“Sometimes there are language barriers, fear or shyness of saying the wrong words to Canadians so that’s why we created a centre for assistance.”
To keep her colourful culture alive, as well as to help other Filipino’s integrate into Canadian society and contribute, the Shandigang Pinoy organization was born on March 16, 2018.
“When you arrive on the Island from the other side of the world and don’t know anyone, it can be extremely hard to adjust and find help,” said Sherilyn Manantan, the group’s other founder.
Manantan moved to Summerside eight years ago to escape the poverty of Benguet in the Philippines.
“Coming to Canada and trying to figure out where to get your health care, schooling, including temporary foreign work can be overwhelming,” she said. “Sometimes there are language barriers, fear or shyness of saying the wrong words to Canadians so that’s why we created a centre for assistance.”
With the help of Belinda Woods, a settlement worker, the organization provides support and services to the Filipino community.
The vision is to preserve the Filipino culture and traditions, as well as encourage and promote health and wellness through recreation, sports, cultural, and community events.
Manantan said the organization is in need of sponsors.
“We are still learning how to run this organization while working full-time jobs, so if anyone has advice on what to do next because this is still new to all of us,” she said.