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Celebrating our Asian diversity…

Mae An De Real, Philippines

Tell us about yourself

I was born in Paranaque City, Philippines. I was a Music teacher for Elementary and High School levels in few elite private schools and worked as a writer and Musical/Choir Director in few concerts in the Manila South area for schools and churches way back in the Philippines. I also did have a Music studio for tutorials.

My husband used to work in Disney Wonder Cruise ship based in Florida, USA for 3 yrs. as he started working when our son, Israel, was 8 months old til he’s 4 yrs of age. He decided to look for another job where he can be together with us. We prayed for guidance from God. At that time, my husband went home to the Philippines, Fairmont Chateau Whistler placed an ad for job opportunities in Canada for their preparations for the 2010 Winter Olympics. My husband applied there, and November 2007 was when he moved to Whistler, Canada. He thought of our need to adjust to the weather and snow so he moved to Squamish before he brought us here on Feb. 2011. On Oct. 2012, we moved to Pemberton and fell in love with this place.

I am so proud to have 2 more extended families in this place, my church: Good News Bible Assembly and the school I work with since January 2013 up to present: Xet’olacw Community School. I am currently a Music teacher from N-7 and HS. I also offer private piano, voice, violin and glockenspiel tutorials in my home business. (The Master’s Touch Piano Studio Pemberton).

How is Canadian culture/life different from your home country?

Filipinos have great respect to elders and authorities as well as visitors. From a young age, kids are taught proper conduct and kind words to use. I find that Canadian kids are encouraged to express their thoughts and feelings at an early age. However, stressing the importance of using kind and appropriate words should also be encouraged and implemented not just in school but in the home first and foremost.

Filipinos are religious people. Although Christianity is the majority belief, there are a few different ones we have. It has been a tradition to attend church not just once a week but more often. Here, there is only 1 service on a Sunday and 1 bible study a week.

Transit availability is minimal. In Pemberton, there are 2 trips in both morning and afternoon. Whereas in the Philippines, it’s 24 hrs. There are different types of public transportation including cabs.

Which parts of your home culture do you try to keep (in Canada), and why?

We have raised our son to always keep his faith in God, as He is the one who directs our lives according to His plan. We never want our son to forget who he is: a Filipino. So, speaking our native language is still exercised at home or whenever. Being respectful at all times and a peace lover is really important. Spending time with the family should always be special. As Filipinos are known to be music lovers, we love to sing in karaoke machines or even from YouTube with a mic.

Israel De Real (Maea An’s son) and Ashanti Salio-an, a half Caribbean -Filipino, showcased Filipino songs during the Whistler Multicultural Festival 2019.

Maea An and her son, Israel. Israel is wearing a Barong Tagalog top, a formal men’s attire.

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There has been a significant increase of hate crimes against Asian in Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. How has that affected you personally?

I believe that “Hate Crime’s” root is ignorance or lack of knowledge of other cultures. If people are not exposed to other cultures and don’t understand them, it can be difficult for them to appreciate differences. Exclusion rather than inclusion, and harm to others, can be the result.

Why is it important to recognize/celebrate Asian Heritage Month? This year?

This draws the need to feature and celebrate different cultures’ uniqueness and contributions to the community to create awareness and educate everyone that even in our differences; we can work together towards the betterment of our communities, and countries respectively.

I am so thankful for all the efforts that Whistler Multicultural Network headed by Carole Stretch has been doing. Aside from celebrating and showcasing each culture, we all feel safe, informed and guided as we get to commune with other nationalities. Thank you so much for everything!

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