Happy Filipino Heritage Month!
As a result of following more Filipinx folks on social media in 2020, I learned that Americans celebrate Filipino American History Month in October HARD. I wondered if there was an equivalent month in Canada, and there is, in June! Not every province celebrates the month, so I decided to challenge myself by posting about one Filipinx entrepreneur, independent professional, or partners in a business from or working in BC every day in June on my Instagram account (@sandranomoto) with the hashtag, #FilCanChallenge. Because some of these businesses are owned by more than one person, instead of 30 professionals, there are actually 36!
Here they are:
1. April Bellia
April’s professional career started as a cake designer, under the namesake April Cakes. Her next company, Granola Girl, was founded in 2008 and sold in 2020. April is also a co-founder of Serendipity Tea Party networking events. She is an intuitive life purpose coach, business consultant, and Spiritual Guide to help others launch a soulful business through her 10 week program, the Optimystic Entrepreneur.
With friends, April loves clever banter, laughing out loud, confidence, and connection. Resonance and alignment on multi levels is a must for her. Appreciation for gourmet food is a must as she is on a constant lookout for the BEST of the best. As someone who lives life to the fullest, April seeks mini adventures and impactful encounters. Her dream is to host annual womens’ retreats to France and showcase all the best that Paris has to offer.
With clients, April is passionate about authentic connections and seeing people’s essence and true nature. Her coaching style is unique as she incorporates her Sacred Gifts of Encouragement, Vision, Wise Council, and Extraordinary Trust. Working with April, you will feel like you are talking with a trusted friend who has your back. You will feel seen, heard, acknowledged, and supported like no other can provide for you. There is no preparation except to show up fully and completely. Be open to the possibilities and opportunities for growth and positive transformation through her 10 week program, The Optimystic Entrepreneur – getting into alignment to launch a soulful business.
Reach out for a 30 minute free discovery call. Find out more about her process or come to the call with a particular concern that’s keeping you up at night. April will be able to provide more clarity and suggest a few action steps you can achieve today. aprilmaybellia.com
2. Jay Castro
3. Malania Dela Cruz
Malania Dela Cruz is a brand partnership and PR expert. With over a 13 years spent managing national PR programs for top fashion, lifestyle and cannabis brands, Malania takes a results-driven, entrepreneurial approach to exceeding business objectives.
Malania is a “relationships queen”, with four of her top five strengths falling in the Gallup StrengthsFinder Relationship bucket, maximizing on her empathy and includer strengths to build trust, respect and inclusivity with colleagues and clients. She believes in creating equity for all and is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
4. & 5. Paolo + Iona Fresnoza
Kapé Philippine Coffee is a social enterprise helping Indigenous women coffee growers in the Philippines thrive and build sustainable livelihoods by promoting their unique coffees to the global stage. Behind this venture are wife and husband team Iona Santos-Fresnoza & Paolo Fresnoza, who met at a café in 2005 and have since brewed countless cups of coffee together. Working closely with native coffee growers in Benguet, Cordillera, Davao Del Sur, and other coffee farming communities in the Philippines, Kapé brings some of the most unique and flavourful coffees from the homeland’s highlands to Canada and beyond.
Kapé aims to highlight the stories behind each cup; honour strong women and families behind great coffee; and make a difference by creating more equitable coffee practices from origin to cup.
6. Saschie Maclean-Magbuana
7. Mark Tagulao
La Glace co-founder & culinary director, Mark Tagulao, showcases his Filipino heritage by re-creating his favourite childhood desserts into gourmet ice cream. Since childhood, Mark saw the kitchen as a playground; a fun place to experiment and try new things.
After graduating from the University of British Columbia, Mark began working full time at a bank. Not satisfied with a life of finance, he started apprenticing with a local cake decorator on the side. This experience would eventually lead him to attend pastry school abroad and travel the world gaining culinary inspiration.
Through his overseas training, Mark honed many of the skills, tips and tricks that he uses to this day. Upon returning to Vancouver, he began working with local food entrepreneurs to help refine and perfect their products.
Mark’s love of competition and adventure drove him to the booming televised cooking competition industry. In 2011, Mark appeared on an episode of Recipe to Riches on Food Network Canada with his recipe for “Teopolitan Ice Cream,” a twist on the classic Neopolitan with layers of green tea, earl grey & vanilla cardamom. Three years later, Mark went on to compete on the American program, Donut Showdown, where Mark received the top prize.
In 2014, Mark and a local entrepreneur, Juliana Eng, founded La Glace with the goal of introducing French ice cream to Vancouver, using ingredients and flavour combinations from their travels around the world.
8. Kei Baritugo
9. Bernadette Pacana-Yap
Bernadette Pacana-Yap, R.H.N. is a yoga teacher and a Holistic Nutritionist. She offers yoga classes and training, as well as nutrition consultations. She is passionate about supporting people in optimizing their health through mindfulness and plant-based nutrition. She is a believer that food, coupled with mindful movement, can be our medicine.
If you are someone who has been wanting to transition to a more plant-based diet, integrated with yoga, she’s got you! Take this journey with her: byogawellness.ca
10. Charito Kaay
Charito Kaay is the founder of Vibrant ALIVE. Since 2012, she has been a certified raw vegan chef and holistic health coach. She left a 10 year career in environmental engineering to pursue her passion to help empower families to make simple lifestyle switches, improve emotional well-being, and incorporate natural remedies. As part of her services, Charito provides aromatherapy consultations and custom natural health formulations for Young Living Essential Oil customers in Vancouver, BC, Canada. vibrantdroppers.com
11. Dianna David
Dianna David was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She left her job as an engineer to pursue her dream of becoming a performer. She then enrolled in clown school, where she discovered the “special thing” that helps her connect with her audience.
She is the founder of the Red Ball Movement, where she uses expressive therapy to engage her audience and inspire them to follow their own dreams.
During her talks and performances, she combines dance, contact juggling, and storytelling to provide a visually appealing foundation from which to share her story.
Right now, she’s offering:
1) PLAYformances – Activating spaces for conscious inner child awakenings through a motivational talk, interactive movement & dream designing
2) Private Online Life Performance Training & Coaching
3) Be.Well.Experiences – Exotic Build Your Own Retreat in Mexico with Dianna’s Faculty of Experienced Facilitators that help you reconnect to the Greatest Expression of You!
Watch her TEDx video, “Have the balls to follow your dreams,” here and read her profile in 9 Best Female Motivational Speakers to Watch in 2021 (credited for some of the text here). diannadavid.ca
12. Veronica Gomes
Veronica Gomes is the founder of Emme Hair, Vancouver’s very first hair extension salon. She began her career as a hairstylist in 2004 and very quickly made the salon her second home. When she is not busy leading her team at the salon, she is enjoying time with her husband Mark and their 2 beautiful children, Kingston and Naomi. Veronica and her sister Maria opened the doors to their first ever hair extension salon in 2016 and outgrew the space immediately, which led to the birth of their Kitsilano location in 2018 and Emme Hair Langley at the end of 2020. Veronica’s passion for mentoring and teaching other hairstylists is what keeps her motivated to continue to expand her team at Emme Hair. She finds great fulfillment in helping people fall in love with their hair by getting them to their hair goals. Veronica looks forward to continuously growing her company to help more and more people.
13. Romeo Reyes
Romeo Reyes is a Filipino Canadian Tattoo Artist and owner of Zen Tattoo in Richmond, BC. He is also an actor, singer, and Transgender Advocate.
Romeo specializes in Floral and Asian style tattoos. He also tattoos Baybayin Script upon special request.
Romeo is passionate about sharing his culture and advocating for the Transgender Community through his art. He hopes to inspire youth and people to live authentically.
14. Nathalie De Los Santos
15., 16. & 17. Sammie Jo Rumbaua, Kimberly Rumbaua, Vinelli Rumbaua-Teguibon
Day-of Coordinator / Emcee Sammie Jo, Design + Decor Kimberly and Principal Planner + Day-of Coordinator Vinelli make up power of threee. (yes, with 3 e’s). We are threee sisters, we’re best friends and we’re business partners. We understand the importance of women inspiring each other and that together we are a stronger force. We believe in pushing one another forward instead of holding each other back.
18. Andrea Mendoza
19. T.J. Almodovar
T.J. is a Medallion Club member, recognized as the top 10% of realtors based on number of transactions. He’s also been a recipient of the Macdonald Realty Award of Excellence on multiple occasions. He credits his success to the amazing support received from his clients and friends, in addition to always honouring his core values: professionalism, honesty, dependability, and seeing the world through a lens of abundance and gratitude. At the moment, he is relishing his new role as a father and in his free time, enjoys exploring the various local restaurants and shops that Greater Vancouver has to offer. Drop by and follow him on IG @t.j.almodovar for market updates and tips. Whether you’re in the advanced stages of buying/selling or just have a general question, don’t be shy! You can contact him directly by sending him a DM on IG!
20. Abegail Woods
21. Adina Neufeld
Adina (she/her) is a Founding Member and business mentor with Beautycounter, the leading clean beauty brand in Canada and the US. As an educator, she helps families make clean swaps in personal care products with the view to lightening their body burden. Since our skin is our largest organ, the products we use daily like soap, moisturizer, sunscreen and makeup, are an important part of the health equation. For this mother of two, high performing products x safety x transparency x advocacy (for more health protective laws) = a winning combo.
When she’s not leading clean beauty consults or coaching her Beautycounter team, Adina’s immersed in the world of Super Powers. As a Discover Your Sacred Gifts™Guide, she mentors clients in identifying their unique gifts and designing a life that feels more on purpose and in flow. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook and at adinasocial.com.
22. Chadley Abalos
Co-Owner, Operations, Marketing, + Designer Chadley Abalos is a Filipino Canadian entrepreneur from Surrey BC. After graduating high school, Chadley took the unconventional route and worked in retail operations for multiple brands and businesses for two years where he gained multiple skills and knowledge in the industry of sportswear and footwear. After realizing his passion for customer service, business, branding and footwear, Chadley pursued a marketing entrepreneurship program at BCIT in 2011.
23. Gino Coronado
At the young age of 6, Barber + Co-Owner + Entrepreneur Gino Coronado had a detailed eye when it came to hair, especially drawn to the medium as an outlet for expression and identity. Having grown an entrepreneurial mindset in his teenage years, as well as having started cutting hair in 2006, the inception of ideas led to the curation of Haides.
Gino’s passion for hair as a craft, alongside the value of creating authentic relationships through serving others, has resulted in exponential growth behind the chair, as an individual, and a businessman. With over 15 years of industry experience, specializing in men’s hair cutting as well as personal development, his career has taken him around the globe: across Europe, India, Asia and east to west through North America. He worked alongside industry leaders, unconditionally studied the art of barbering, and now providing education. All while continuing to provide premium barber services.
24., 25. & 26. Rose Samaniego, Philip Samaniego, Roy Pagulayan
Immigrating from the Philippines in the 90s, spouses Rose and Philip and long time friend, Roy, only had each other for support. Being so far from everything they knew, the only thing that comforted them were the dishes that transported them back to their nanay’s kitchen.
Some of their fondest memories were exchanging stories over shared plates with those they love the most. So with Kulinarya, it was important for them to create a homey and comforting space for others to do the same. Rose, Philip and Roy are grateful to share traditional Filipino cuisine with the community alongside the people who have helped make Kulinarya extensions of their homes.
27. Sean Blishen
Kilig Candle Co. is a Vancouver, BC based woman-owned business creating candles that ignite joy, passion, and serenity. Kilig, meaning “the butterflies in your tummy” in Tagalog, is the driving inspiration behind each specially designed scent. Hand-poured in their Vancouver studio, Kilig uses only eco-friendly materials including 100% soy wax, lead and zinc-free cotton wicks, organic and non-toxic fragrance and essential oils, and recyclable glass jars.
Since its birth in January 2020, Kilig Candle Co. has made and sold thousands of candles to date. Founder Sean Blishen, at only 27 years old, sparked Kilig in her parents’ kitchen after her love for all things DIY inspired her to create something new. Eco-friendly candles such as Mahal Kita (“I love you” in Tagalog) and Muni Muni (“reflecting” or “pondering”) are hand-crafted to not only capture and inspire those feelings in a scent, but are a catalyst for change with each purchase. With each candle sold, Kilig donates one meal to a child in need in the Philippines through Canadian non-profit Adhika.
28. Josephine Gonzales
Josephine is one of a few female Investment Advisors both at her firm and in the industry, and is passionate about being a voice for female clients who may want to work with someone who can relate to them, and understands their needs and challenges on a deeper level. Josephine is also an advocate for financial literacy and loves to work with the next generation to help them become stewards of their wealth and carry on their family legacy.
Josephine’s introduction into finance began at a young age as she always had a curiosity about “how money works”. This piqued her interest and honed her focus in post-secondary education, and every job she took on after that. Josephine holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Financial Planning from the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). Once she started her career in Wealth Management her continuous desire to add to her knowledge and skillset led her to obtain her Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation.
Josephine grew up in East Vancouver, and comes from a large, Filipino family who mainly reside in the Greater Vancouver Area. When she is not at the office or spending time with her family and friends, you can find her inside a gym trying the latest and greatest workout as she is an advocate for living a healthy, balanced and full life.
29. Crissa Koh
Crissa Koh’s passion for baking started back when she was 8 years old. Growing up in Vancouver, she loved taking the opportunity to practice baking for all her family’s occasions or even just whipping up special treats for a rainy weekend breakfast.
She relocated to Singapore in 2005 to start a family. After working as an engineer in the petrochemical industry for a few years and then happily having one too many kids, she made the leap to start her own baking business: Crissa’s Cake Corner.
Now a mumpreneur of 4 energetic youngsters, she is able to successfully run her home-based business around her kids’ crazy busy schedules. Crissa has an eye for detail, skilled hands and has experience with a wide variety of cake designs. She also makes unique customized desserts ranging from character macarons and hand-cut cookies, to whimsical cupcakes and unique cake pops. She loves making themed desserts for elaborate dessert table set-ups and enjoys bringing flavours of Canada and the Philippines into her creations. Her kids are her biggest fans and they always start planning for their own birthdays, months in advance, every year! Crissa is happy to be doing what she loves and looks forward to the day that she and her family can all live together again in Vancouver.
30. Ryan Diaz
- Lived and trained Martial Arts in Thailand, Philippines, Arizona and Las Vegas. Trainer to many professional fighters, including current UFC fighters.
- Co-owner of The MMA Lab with world renowned MMA coach John Crouch and the greatest UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson in Phoenix, Arizona
- KOTC Bantamweight World Champion
- AFC Bantamweight World Champion
- Hook n Shoot North American Champion, 2 x PNW Champion
- Fearless MMA Champion, Canadian Muay Thai Champion
- Intercontinental Muay Thai Champion and ADCC veteran
- Veteran of over 50 professional fights all over the world. Places include Japan, Hawaii, Abu Dhabi, California, Florida, Philippines
- Events include: ONE Championship, Strikeforce, Superbrawl, Hook n Shoot, TKO, KOTC, S-Cup (Shootboxing) Japan, Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling Championships (ADCC) and Shooto Japan.
31. Jewel Tolentino
Jewel Tolentino is a full time Creative, YouTuber and Co-Founder of Essetino Artists. Her passion is helping others leverage the power of YouTube to build authority, expand their audience, make a bigger impact and monetize.
In 2015, she along with her business partner Auret Esselen launched their YouTube channel dedicated to teaching creative entrepreneurs how to grow their business and establish a solid presence online. Today, the channel has surpassed 42,000 subscribers and continues to grow with 1000+ subscribers each month.
Visit www.essetinoartists.com for a free YouTube Guide with 12 ready-to-film video ideas.
32. Ethel Garcia
Owner of Roots Cafe Ethel Garcia immigrated to Vancouver, B.C. from the Philippines in the 90s and began her career as a registered nurse. As the oldest sibling in her family, her mission was to bring her family here to Canada and build her own family.
Months later, they found Roots Cafe for sale in the area their family grew up in. Instead of starting a brand new business they kept what they had but made it into their own. January 2016 was now taken over my Ethel and Sarah-Joy. A mother-daughter duo who has spent countless hours running the business it is today. It’s not your average coffee shop, but you’ll have to go check it out for yourself.
33. Donna Fathi
From all these years of hard work and planting my seeds to grow my 3 businesses, I managed to buy my dream house and a new hot tub that I have dreamt about since I was a little girl. I kept my eyes on the prize and stayed focused on my goals to get there. Growing up and going to the fair at the PNE, I would always walk through the prize home and look at Coastal Spas’ jacuzzi booth and kept saying, “One day.” It took 40 years to get there, so to all those who dream, keep going and don’t stop until you get there, no matter how big or small your goals are. Consistency and discipline are key.
35. Raquel Stewart
Owner + Founder of Bukobaba Essentials Raquel Stewart (she/her) is the passionate founder and owner of Bukobaba Essentials Inc. Born in Las Piñas, Philippines, Raquel grew up in Vancouver maintaining strong cultural ties with her birthplace.
Bukobaba is Raquel’s vision of bridging her two worlds: bringing Philippine essentials, prepared in traditional methods going back centuries in the Philippines, to Canada where educated consumers recognize artisanal, small-batch products that support local farmers and producers in native lands.
“You have the power to do good… for your body, your soul, and for the rest of the world.”
– Raquel Stewart
36. Sandra Nomoto (yours truly)
“The Content Doctor” Sandra Nomoto is a content writer and editor for cruelty-free businesses, and copyeditor, ghostwriter, and book formatter for authors. After earning her university degree, she worked in the public relations industry for 13 years. During that time, she launched Conscious Public Relations Inc. at the age of 25. Over the 10 years in business, Nomoto was awarded the 2009 Volunteer of the Year by Women In Film & Television Vancouver, earned B Corporation® certification, and contributed to eWomenNetwork Vancouver earning the Best Social Media and Community Engagement Award. She previously served on the boards of directors of the Vancouver Mural Festival and Vancouver Short Film Festival, which she helped grow from 2005 to 2015. Nomoto authored The Only Public Relations Guide You’ll Ever Need in 2019, and writes at SandraNomoto.com and for Cold Tea Collective.