Filipino language curriculum being developed for Alberta schools

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    By Quay Evano

    The Alberta government announced the development of a K-12 Filipino language and culture curriculum during a meeting with Premier Rachel Notley and Filipino community leaders on Feb. 1 in Calgary.

    “The Filipino community has brought essential skills to our workforce and added so much to our social fabric,” Notley says. “Creating a K-12 Filipino language and culture curriculum will ensure this vibrant community can continue to grow.”

    Education Minister David Eggen says adding languages to Alberta’s school curriculum can have positive spin-offs.

    “Providing learning opportunities for students in a variety of language programs helps youth maintain their heritage, strengthen their cultural identity and build language and literacy skills,” Eggen says. “Strengthening language programs based on local need and demand can be an effective tool in addressing racism. In fact, this is one of the ways we’re acting on the feedback we heard, and commitments we made, in our government’s anti-racism consultations and report.”

    Filipino community leaders lobbied for the inclusion of the Filipino language and culture in the Alberta school program.

    Last year, the Alberta government declared June Philippine Heritage Month after receiving a petition signed by Filipinos from all over the province.

    At present, there are around 170,000 people of Filipino heritage in Alberta and is considered the largest and fastest-growing community in the province.

    Filipino culture and language teacher, Dolly Castillo, says this move by the government is another historic gift by the Alberta leaders to the Filipino-Canadian community.

    “This strongly demonstrates the respect for a culture’s diversity and uniqueness through its language,” she says. “Programs like this in still pride in students and their heritage and results in active and engaged citizens.”

    The Philippine Consulate in Calgary welcomes the Alberta government’s announcement.

    “That the expansion of the teaching of the Filipino curriculum at Alberta schools would open many opportunities to generate a deeper involvement of the Filipino community and ensure that generations of young Filipinos will continue to learn and appreciate their rich culture and unique identity,” the consulate stated. “This move will be a source of pride to the Filipino community. It will inspire them to become more productive and responsible members of the Alberta community. The Philippine Consulate General in Calgary encourages the Filipino community across Alberta to actively engage the local authorities regarding the introduction next year of the K-12 Filipino curriculum within the school districts where there are large Filipino student populations.”

    Since 1996 the Philippine Cultural Center Foundation has been teaching Filipino language and culture in Calgary.

    Classes are held Sundays from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

    According to the group’s website, “The PCCF, together with Alberta Education, Calgary Catholic School Board, Edmonton Catholic School Board, and Filipino Canadian Saranay Association of Edmonton and have developed a three- year curriculum that allows students to learn Filipino language and culture.

    Accredited Filipino language and courses are being offered to high school students as optional subjects. Non-accredited students are grouped according to age and knowledge of the Filipino language. Instruction time depends on the age level. An additional adult class is also provided for interested mature students.

     

     

    Filipino-Canadian Accepts NDP Nomination for Calgary-East

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    Cesar Cala

    By Adrian Dayrit

    A Filipino Calgarian will be running for the New Democratic Party (NDP) in the upcoming Alberta election.

    Cesar Cala, a long-time resident of Calgary has accepted the nomination from the NDP to run for Calgary-East.

    It is currently held by independent Robyn Luff who was removed from the NDP caucus in November 2018.

    Calgary-East includes the following neighbourhoods: Abbeydale, Applewood, Penbrooke Meadows, Erin Woods, Forest Heights, Forest Lawn, Southview, and East Dover.

    “I want to support Calgary-East become a greater place to live, learn, raise a family, make a living and be part of a community” says Cala about his campaign focus.

    Cesar Cala moved to Calgary from the Philippines with his wife in 1996 and will be the first Filipino-Canadian to be an official candidate for MLA in Calgary and Southern Alberta.

    This nomination comes following the announcement by the provincial government to enact plans to add Filipino language and culture curriculum in K-12 schools.

    According to the provincial government “there are more than 170,000 people of Filipino heritage in Alberta” and is the “fastest growing ethno-cultural community in the province.”

    Cala co-founded several community-serving organizations.

    This is the first time he will be running for political office.

    “This decision did not come lightly nor quickly, but it was a decision that I cannot ignore,” he says. “I feel strongly that the next provincial election will set the path for our province for years, if not generations, to come. Who will win and form the next government is important but equally important is what will be the tone and the discourse of the election.”

    Cala has received several awards for his dedication to his community including the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for Unsung Heroes.

    “I am passionate about building welcoming and safe neighbourhoods and communities, free from racism and discrimination,” he says. “I want to see Filipino-Canadians be proud of our heritage, contributing to the province’s future and represented in the province’s civic and political leadership.”

    The election date will be set between March 1 and May 31. This will be the first election held after the Alberta NDP defeated the Progressive Conservative government in 2015.

     

    Filipino candidates shut out in Provincial election

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      Cesar Cala

      By Adrian Dayrit

      Both Filipino MLA candidates walked away disappointed Tuesday night following the Provincial election, where the United Conservative Party won a majority government.

      Filipino candidates from Calgary and Edmonton representing both the NDP and UCP parties experienced disappointment in their first run in provincial politics.

      NDP Calgary-East candidate Cesar Cala lost to UCP candidate Peter Singh. As of 11 p.m. on April 16, Cala trailed Singh by 1,200 votes.

      Cala stepped in to Calgary East, which was won by former NDP candidate Robyn Luff in the 2015 election. However, Luff was removed from the NDP party in 2018 and sat as an independent. Luff did not run in this election.

      “Well of course we are disappointed with the result, but it is the decision of the people and I respect that,” he says. “We had a lot of good breakthroughs in our riding and were able to engage new voters.”

      Cala recruited family and friends to door-knock and volunteer for his campaign, many of which were first-time volunteers in a political campaign.

      “We had a lot of new volunteers, and a lot of walk-in volunteers comprising mostly of young people,” he says. “It was a good experience for all of us.”

      Cala says he will continue to be involved in the community.

      “When the dust settles, we will use the lessons we learned from this campaign to continue to serve the community,” he says.

      Cala campaign volunteer, Simon Bondoc says the election outcome was not a surprise.

      “I expected the results and I feel we ran a good campaign,” Bondoc says. “I’m proud to have volunteered for the official opposition.”

      In the Edmonton-Glenora, UCP candidate and Filipina Marjorie Newman, lost to the incumbent, former NDP health minister Sarah Hoffman in a landslide vote.

      Hoffman took 58 per cent of the vote in that race, winning with more than 5,000 votes over Newman.

      The UCP will form a majority government taking 63 ridings, leaving the NDP as the official opposition with 24 seats.

      Cesar Cala is making history in Alberta’s Provincial Elections

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      Cesar Cala

      By Edwin Badosa

      Cesar Cala is hoping to make history in the upcoming Provincial election.

      Cala is the first Filipino candidate to run as Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) in Calgary and Southern Albert, and the first MLA candidate of Filipino descent for Alberta’s New Democratic Party.

      He is running for MLA in the Calgary-East riding, known for its diverse population in community like Dover, Erin Woods, Forest Lawn and Penedo.

      “For me, this election will set the path for Alberta for years, if not generations, to come,” says Cala.  “I firmly believe and stand for an Alberta that is diverse, prosperous, respectful and inclusive for all – regardless of where we are born, the color of our skin, how we worship, who we love and how much we earn. I want to pursue these values. That is why I decided to run.”

      Cala says supporting family, education and the health care system are his priorities.

      “I want to support Calgary-East to become a greater place to live, learn, raise a family, make a living and be part of the community,” he says. “I want to ensure that all Albertans benefit from a strong and stable public health system and good schools.” Cesar has worked in community development and in civic engagement at United Way of Calgary and Area and the Calgary Foundation.

      More recently, Cala worked as a special advisor for the Government of Alberta, building engagement between ministries and diverse communities.

      He co-founded several community-serving organizations, including Sunrise Community Link Resource Centre, the Ethno-Cultural Council of Calgary (now ActionDignity), Children’s Legal and Educational Resource Centre (now named Youth Law), Urban Youth Worx (now part of Antyx), and the Asian Heritage Foundation. He has been recognized for his community service several times, including a Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in 2015, a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, an Immigrant of Distinction Award in 2009 and an Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005.

      Cala says he will continue to advocate for the Filipino community.

      “I want to see Filipino-Canadians be proud of their heritage, contributing to the province’s future and represented in the province’s civic and political leadership,” he says.

       

      He is an organizer of the Philippine Emergency Response Team (PERT) that supports post-disaster rehabilitation efforts in the Philippines and in Alberta. More recently, he helped lead efforts towards the proclamation of Philippine Heritage Month in Alberta, and the organizing of the first Alberta-wide Filipino Leaders Conference in 2018.

      Alberta’s Provincial election is April 16.

       

      Calgary Teacher Admits to Sex Related Offences

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        A Calgary teacher and music teacher has pleaded guilty to 17 charges in a Calgary courtroom April 4.

        Christian Allen Sarile, 29, admitted to offering girls as young as 12-years-old money, vapes and alcohol in return for sexual favours.

        In a 72-page agreed statement of facts, Sarile admitted to contacting girls between the ages of 12 and 16 through a multitude of social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Ask.fm.

        He extorted nude and pornographic images and videos from young girls online and met some for sexual favours at LRT stations, parking lots and parks. Sarile was 27-years-old at the time.

        Using fake names, like Josh and Brandon, Sarile lured girls promising hundreds of dollars, vapes, clothes, rides and food to get them to meet him and perform sexual acts on him. He also sent some girls pictures of other boys, typically a blonde, blue-eyed teen, to disguise his identity. He told his victims he was between 16 and 19 years old.

        In one case, posing as someone else, he told a victim if she didn’t have sex with Sarile, he’d be beaten up. In another situation, he posed as a teen who was being abused by his step-father.

        In some cases, when Sarile received images or videos from victims, he’d threaten to share them with friends and family unless they sent more.

        Sarile was originally arrested in May 2017 on his way to his teaching job. He was later released and ordered not to possess a smartphone or use the Internet.

        Further police surveillance showed Sarile continued to engage in sexual acts with underage girls and he was using his phone and computer to contact more victims.

        Police officers again arrested Sarile in Dec. 2017 and he was denied bail.

        While Sarile was in the Calgary Remand Centre, more girls came forward and additional charges were laid against him.

        Investigators from the Internet Childhood Exploitation unit found thousands of child pornography images on Sarile’s phone and laptops.

        He pleaded guilty to sexual assault, sexual touching, communication with girls under the age of 16 for the commission of an offence, obtain nude photos and/or videos by threats and making child pornography.

        Sarile is now awaiting sentencing.

        Filipina Running in UCP Edmonton Riding

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        By Marianne Rosal

        In Edmonton, Filipina Marjorie Newman is running in the Edmonton-Glenora riding for the United Conservative Party.

        Newman is a registered immigration consultant with ICCRC. She is involved in her community and various Filipino associations in Edmonton. Influenced by the stories of her fellow entrepreneurs and business owners who were unsatisfied with the way current government policy affected their livelihood, she decided to run for MLA.

        I aim to help reignite the Albertan economy, to represent my Edmonton-Glenora riding and be the voice of the Filipino community in the Alberta legislature,” Newman says.

        As an immigrant, she’s faced many struggles moving to Canada. Like many kababayans, the allure of Alberta’s once-booming industry was a promise for her to better her family’s quality of life.

        She says she is moved and influenced by the stories of the people she meets, people who she hopes to help and people whose lives she can help.

        The Alberta Provincial election is April 16.

         

        Calgarian Wins Award for Miss Empress Universe Pageant

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        Written by: Chelsea Tan

         

        One can say that pageantry is ingrained in Filipino culture. Two Filipinas have been crowned Miss Universe in the last four years.

        Traditional pageants such as Miss Universe come with strict criteria for entrants. They have to be under 28 years old, never been married and never been pregnant or with a child.

        Enter Miss Empress Universe, the first pageant of its kind to welcome participants from different backgrounds and different stages of life.

        Dee Reyes, proud mother of a nine-year-old boy and a commercial portfolio account manager by profession, embarked on a trip in December 2018 to represent the Filipino community and to compete in the Miss Empress Universe finale in Goa, India.

        “Empress Universe has categories for ladies who are married, who are way past their 30’s and for petite ladies like me,” she says.

        Reyes placed the second runner up in the petite category and was named International Fashion Icon for all categories.

        “My title was not a free pass,” she says. “There were about 3,000 applicants initially that went down to 800 contestants around the world.”

        The initial screening for Miss Empress Universe was done online via Skype, videos and phone calls. Reyes competed remotely by submitting videos that showcase her talents and prove her experience in social ethics and community building.

        Reyes has other Filipinas to emulate in the pageantry world. She says she loved seeing Catriona Gray’s win as Miss Universe 2019.

        “She is definitely a good representation of not just our Filipino heritage, but of a truly remarkable woman,” Reyes says. “And I love her slow-mo walk, oh my gosh to die for.”

        She is referring to Catriona Gray’s “Lava” walk which became viral after being showcased in the Miss Universe runway.

        Reyes says for her the most appealing part of competing in pageants is that winners are chosen based on their ability to empower other women and inspire change within the community.

        “It’s about the journey, the character building,” she says. “It’s something you can’t buy or fulfill externally. [Pageantry] boosts you to become the best version of yourself.”

         

         

        Happy Heart Month!

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        Happy Heart month everyone!

        Being only two months into this new year you may be one of the people who’ve already given up on their new years resolution or who are telling themselves that they have LOTS more time to get back on track!

        Whatever side you fall into this equation have no fear. Let me be the first to tell you ‘It’s OKAY!’

        When it comes to eating properly, it isn’t a matter of restricting but knowing!  What I mean is there is no better way of understanding what you’re eating and what ingredients are going into your food than cooking your own food! Don’t worry, the recipes I will be sharing with you today are very simple and straightforward, but I’ll get into that later!

        February is officially Heart Month. Not only is it a month filled with love and romance, but it also one of the shortest months in the year. So, what better month to try a new challenge than this month!  Growing up in a busy Filipino household, one thing I could always count on was that my parents always had food ready to reheat and eat at a moment’s notice!

        As I grew up and I began my journey into culinary and meal prep, I learned to appreciate how much time this saves you through the week! If meal prep or cooking your food ahead of time Is not your forte or a priority, don’t stress because there are companies in and around the city that’s will to do the process for you and it’s then as simple as popping the food in the microwave to reheat! At least you know if you go through any one of these companies your getting whole ingredients, some even deliver through the week to help optimize freshness!

        In honour of Heart Month I’ve brought you two simple, yet favorite dishes of mine! They are heart Conscious and packed with the nutrients and flavour your body wants and your flavour receptors will thank you for!

        Side note with these recipes you can also use a slow cooker and have the hassle cut in half!

         

        Hearty Vegetarian Chili

        Serving: 4 Large portions or 6 small portions

        Ingredients

        2 Medium Red Peppers Medium, diced

        1/2 Medium Red Onion, diced

        1 Small/Medium Carrot, chopped (bite sized)

        3 Celery Stems, chopped (bite sized)

        1 Can Pinto Beans

        1 Can Black Beans

        1 Can Diced Tomatoes

        5 Tbs Lime juice

        5 Tbs Chili Powder

        2 Tbs Cumin

        2 Tb paprika

        3 Bay Leaves (dried)

        1 Cup Cooked Rice (white or brown)

        2 Tbs Canola Oil

        Salt & Pepper to Taste

        ½ Bunch of Cilantro, chopped (garnish)

         

        Optional Ingredients

        1 Tbs of Sour Cream

        Shredded Cheese (garnish)

         

        Procedure:

        • Strain the Beans (Pinto and Black Beans) and place in a container on the side
        • In a medium to large pot sauté the veggies at medium to high heat with canola oil
        • Once veggies are halfway cooked, add the spices, be sure to let the spice’s aromas really come out and mix into the veggies.
        • When veggies have been coated with the spices, add the pinto beans, black beans and diced tomatoes. Be sure to drain half the liquid in the can of diced tomato, as the moisture from the veggies adds a lot of water to the chili.
        • Add the dried bay leaves and lime juice to the chili and let it come up to a boil
        • Once chili begins to boil lower the heat and bring it to a simmer, let the chili simmer for roughly 30 mins
        • Add the rice to the chili and let it simmer for another 15-30 mins. Be sure to mix your pot and make sure the bottom of the pot does not burn
        • Once the chili thickens up from the rice, garnish with cilantro and any optional garnishes. Don’t forget to remove dried bay leaves prior to serving, feel free to have this chili with your favorite scones or bread!
        • The great thing about chilli, just like Filipino adobo, is it gets better the longer it sits. So the chili you taste today will taste completely different from the chili that you taste later on in the week. This is due to the spices coming out and infusing more flavour into the chili.

        *** Side note: If you are using a slow cooker, add all ingredients to the pot and set it to high heat for four hours and enjoy. Be sure to check on it after three hours and if it has the consistency you want feel free to turn it off! ***

         

        Creamy Dairy-Free Alfredo

        Serving: 6 Servings

        600 ml of Coconut Milk

        150 ml of chicken stock (or broth)

        6 Tbs of Nutritional Yeast (can be found in organic section of your grocery store)

        2-3 Garlic Cloves, minced

        6 Tbs of All-purpose flour (use gluten-free flour if you want this recipe to be gluten free)

        240 grams of dried spaghetti (use gluten-free spaghetti if you want this recipe to be gluten free)

        Salt and Pepper to Taste

        1 Tbs of Canola Oil

        Optional Proteins to add:

        3.5 oz of Salmon

        Or

        3.5 oz of Chicken breast or thigh

        Or

        4-5 medium to large shrimp pieces

        Procedure:

        • Sauté the garlic cloves in canola oil
        • Add chicken broth and wait for it to come to a boil
        • Once boiling, add the coconut milk and stir in the nutritional yeast
        • Let it come to a boil and lower the heat to simmer for 15-20 mins
        • In a separate pot, add water and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling add salt to water and place spaghetti noodles in boiling water. Let it cook for roughly 15 mins or to al dente (meaning the noodle is just under cooked. This will add a nice texture to your pasta and make it a little chewy.
        • Once sauce is simmering, make a flour slurry. This is done by adding cold water to the all-purpose flour in a separate bowl or cup and slowly adding this mixture into your sauce. This will help thicken your sauce and help it latch onto the spaghetti noodles.
        • Your sauce should be at the right consistency, but if not feel free to play around. If you want it thinner add more chicken stock and if you want it thicker make more flour slurry and add it into your sauce. It’s important to note that the flour does take time to thicken up the sauce as opposed to cornstarch, so be patient and give the flour some time to cook before adding more flour slurry.
        • Combine spaghetti noodles and sauce together. Cook your favorite choice of protein and serve! Here I added salmon and chicken into mine, but this is where you can be as creative as you want!

         

        *** Side note: if you have a slow cooker add all ingredients, except the noodles into the pot and give it a good stir with a whisk.  Set it for two hours on high heat. Boil the pasta in a separate pot and don’t forget to cook your favorite protein and set them to the side. Once the sauce is done you can add the noodles to the slow cooker pot and serve with your protein choice on top! ***

         

        Happy Heart Month! I hope you enjoyed those recipes and if you love the idea of meal prep ahead of time, but don’t want the hassle of cooking, feel free to check out companies like The Fit Bar who provide this service and deliver all across the city! Check them out here at https://thefitbar.ca/

         

        Michael Juarez Bio

        Chef Michael Siapno Juarez is known to many as a jack of all trades. He is the executive chef for The Fit Bar in Calgary. If he’s not busy in the kitchen making health-conscious food that is not only nutritious but also packed with flavour, you may find him helping you sell your home or buy your next one!  Or you might find him onstage as an emcee for one of the largest Filipino Fiestas in Alberta, Fiesta Filipino, or the many events held by the PFCA!

         

         

        Fun Page

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        AWAKENING THE NOBLE CALLING OF A TEACHER IN ALL OF US

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        Dolly Punsalan Castillo

         

        We always hear about the unwavering belief and acknowledgement of teaching as a noble profession. This is what precipitated my deeper examination of this concept.

        The title preambles where I want this topic to progress. It’s not the formal schooling or academic certification of the profession I refer to. I believe in the innate desire of each decent, well-intended person to share, to advice, to counsel out of their experiences that which benefits others.

        It’s at times, a kneejerk reaction to offer one’s peace of mind to a situation. Behind it, all is the desire to help fellow beings find their way in this sometimes confusing world.

        It’s fascinating to hear and see such people react, be it in a subtle form or to the point of being perceived as meddling.

        If moderate teaching is offered to help and enlighten and not to pose as self-righteous on the part of the informal teacher, it should be taken as helpful.

        Another aspect of this topic is a gospel excerpt that admonishes people to remember a moral obligation. This is to speak up when something blatantly wrong or unethical comes up. For self-survival, most people choose to be quiet on the sidelines. For a legitimate cause, they could be unsure of the process and don’t want to risk the fear of rejection.

        However, if one’s own sense of fairness or even justice intuitively goads them to say their piece, then do so. Only with practice, can this skill of voicing out, earn it laurels and positive effects.

        It’s sad to join the bandwagon of silent timid people who live life unencumbered, uninvolved, and unaffected. However, there can be enough bold people who can stir the pot and lead the majority to an awakened state of vigilance.

        We are fortunate to be in a country that champions freedom of speech. To hear the voice of the grassroots masses through bold leaders who risk being misunderstood, ignored, or rejected is worth the forward step. It’s the noble calling of a teacher, be it in a formal or informal sense, to put the word out there.

        Nothing ventured, nothing gained. A word of caution to the over enthusiastic teachers : always remember to uplift rather than put down, always say it with the purpose of letting people grow and develop their character and outlook, always present the new lesson as a possible option that might be adopted or not, and lastly from a place of love as a service to fellow human beings.

        Buwan po ng mga puso, pag – ibig, at pagmamahal. Kung paano po ito naipapakita at naipapadama ay di lang sa buwan at araw na ito. Kahimanawari, ay sa buong taon at buhay. Nagbabago na rin po ang mukha ng pag -ibig. Ang ibig lang pong sabihin ay hindi lang ang tradisyonal na pagpapakita at pagpapatunay ng pagmamahal ang namamayani. Exciting at makahulugan din ang modernong pananaw na nirerespeto ang kabuuan ng bawa’t isa – independent, bold, intelligent, respectful at grateful sa pagtatagpo at pakakakilala ng baw’t isa sa makahulugan na relasyon. Namamayani po ang kapakanan ng bawa’t isa na walang pag -iimbot at pansariling intensyon. Sana po ay maranasan natin ang bagong mukha at pananaw ng pag -ibig at  pagmamahal na mas naaayon sa utos ng Poong Maykapal.

        Martial Arts Dojo Brings Together Families

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        By Will Tigley

        Sensei Bryan Litorco says martial arts builds mind and body and can also build a family.

        With over nine years of teaching experience combined with nearly three decades of practicing martial arts, Litorco is happy to have launched his new dojo, focusing on the Zen Karate Discipline, in Brentwood Mall in the city’s northwest with his family.

        “We’re really focused on the family aspect of learning martial arts together,” explains Litorco. “With my own family I found very few family martial arts programs, so it’s nice to start my own.”

        Litorco and his wife, Connie and daughter, Celeste, welcome all students interested in learning fighting styles that combine techniques from Shotokan Karate, Taekwondo and kickboxing.

        “I found that martial arts is good at building a family dynamic,” says Bryan. “The parent-child dynamic is really quite interesting when learning martial arts together. In some cases, children may learn faster than adults, so parents need to be open to listening to their children for their own learning.”

        They held their grand opening week in January

        and Bryan is already finding a lot of students showing interest in the new dojo.

        A major aspect of owning the dojo is preparing for competitions.

         

        The Litorco family are already in the midst of training for their next competition later this month in the Alberta Zen Interclub Tournament in Red Deer.

        “We really want to get families competing together,” says Bryan. “Joining competitions as a family brings a whole new aspect to competing as a team. You need to build trust and team work together and families can hold each other accountable.”

        Competing together is a great experience to encourage and help each other develop their skills, the Litorcos have found.

        Opening Litorco Martial Arts have also developed them as a family as well, with Bryan teaching classes, Connie running the office and business, and Celeste assisting in classes.

        “Martial arts have been great for my family and has given us a lot,” says Bryan. “I’d encourage anyone interested in learning a skill to come to join us for a drop-in class and see if it’s for you. Whether you come with your family or not we’ll always help develop your physical strength and mental fortitude.”

        For more information visit litorcomartialarts.com or visit the Litorco Martial Arts Facebook and Instagram pages.

         

         

        Filipinos Take on International Food at Avenida Food Hall

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        By Will Tigley

         

         

        Two Filipino chefs are helping bring an international flavor to the Avenida Food Hall, a new food venue in southeast Calgary.

        Avenida Food Hall & Fresh Market opened in December and is already getting lots of shout outs on Instagram. The concept of the urban food hall is a similar to a farmers’ market, but with 40 different vendors in Avenida dedicated to food, the venue offers food lovers a chance to taste a number of different options.

        Many of the vendors at Avenida Food are focused on international flavours. Among the lines of people waiting for Korean, Mexican, or Italian food there are two kiosks that are inspired by the creativity of Calgary Filipinos.

         

        Arce Morales opened Oishidesu, serving a variety of ramen and poke bowls.

        Morales previously opened a number of food ventures at farmers’ markets including Mom’s Happy Kitchen and Malbork! Dips, Hummus and More.

        “It’s been really busy,” says Morales of the two months Oishidesu has been active at Avenida Food market.

        Morales says there’s been a steady line up for his shop.

        “This is my second year serving ramen,” explains Morales. “This is my second Oishidesu location. I have my first location at Granary Road.”

        With his multiple entrepreneur ventures in food, Morales is amazed at how the Calgary food scene is changing.

        “With most traditional restaurants, rent and labour is high, so having a

        smaller space allows me to cover costs easier,” says Morales. “I find if you open a restaurant you have to focus more on business than the actual restaurant. With a food hall or a farmers’ market, it’s a bit more low risk.”

        All of Morales’ businesses have relied on farmers’ market and he’s experienced great results with all of his businesses.

        “With a good product, you succeed,” explains Morales. “Calgarians are aware of farmers’ markets and it’s become a habit for many to visit. For a business owner, it’s also nice to run a stall for only four days and have three days off.”

        As an entrepreneur, Morales is always looking for the next idea and Avenida may offer his next opportunity.

        “Customers are seeing that the Avenida Food Market is really good,” says Morales. “If there’s a spot that opens up, we’ll open a Filipino kiosk. ”

        “It’s about time. We have lots of farmers’ markets and we have yet to see Filipino cuisine offered at one.”

        Also no stranger to the Calgary farmers’ market scene, Ping Ballego opened up Fantasy Mini Donuts and Pretzels at Avenida Food Hall.

        Fantasy Mini Donuts and Pretzels, is yet another expansion of her farmers market businesses.

        She is the owner of Simple Simon’s Pies, and has a Fantasy Mini Donuts and Pretzels location at the Crossroads Market. With the success of that location she decided to open a stall at Avenida Food Hall.

        For Ballego, it’ has been rewarding winning over new customers with her treats.

        “It’s been a great experience,” says Ballego. “At lunchtime you can’t even see through the crowds.”

        The business that Ballego is building at Avenida is evident in how well her pretzels are selling. During most of the four days that Fantasy is open, Ballego sells on average 1,100 pretzels, which is by far the majority of her pretzel sales at all of her locations.

        Ballego’s business takes a unique approach to German-style pretzels.

        “Most pretzels places in town you have to wait for them to cook them and then eat them immediately while they’re still warm,” says Ballego. “My pretzels, like German pretzels, can be served and eaten cold. It takes about six hours with six people to prepare, but the pretzels are homemade fresh every night.”

        Currently on Ballego’s menu she has three sweet and five savoury pretzels, but she wants everyone to know that she’s always experimenting with new flavours.

        “Right now, my most popular pretzel is the Truffle and Cheese, but I’ve also tried flavours like Asiago  Paprika and I’ve had good response to flavours like Pizza  Pepperoni.”

        Like Morales, Ballego also hopes for other opportunities with the success of her business at Avenida Food Hall. She’s looking at opportunities downtown to expand her food business.

        To check out Oishidesu or Fantasy Mini Donuts and Pretzels, visit Avenida Food Hall Thursdays through Sundays in the Avenida Mall at 12445 Lake Fraser Drive SE.

         

         

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