The Philippine Honorary Consul General in Winnipeg, Orlando Marcelino, came to Neepawa last Aug. 30.
We Filipinos all know him as our “Kuya Orli”. The word “kuya” means “older brother” in Filipino.
He is a very popular figure amongst the Filipinos in Neepawa because he is the Manitoba Consular Outreach Coordinator who leads a team of volunteers that help us with our passport renewals in Winnipeg.
For the past three years, Manitoba's 65,000 Filipinos did not have a Consul General. So we had no choice but to make do with the aperiodic visits that the team of the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto holds twice or thrice a year in Winnipeg.
Marcelino was officially appointed by Philippine President, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III through the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Jose del Rosario, on July 9 of this year, and was sworn into office on Aug. 16.
The new Honorary Consul General, his wife, Flor Marcelino, who is a Minister of Culture, Heritage and Tourism in Manitoba, and their assistants were given a guided tour around the town of Neepawa but the Mayor and HyLife's Laarni Santos.
Then they were brought to the HyLife plant for a tour of the facility as well. Kevin Cook led us through the numerous conveyors and machines that carried and sliced all the meat products.
It was the very first time I saw the production floor. I often get lost in conversations with my friends from HyLife when they talk about work.
I was genuinely fascinated as I witnessed the mechanisms that made up this multi-million-dollar hog plant.
The Consul General and his companions were amazed at the number of Filipino employees at HyLife.
The Human Resources Head Don Dufort and his team were there to answer all inquiries with regard to the company and its workers.
The officers of the Filipino Association of Neepawa and Area Inc.
including, the President, Eleazer Resolis, Vice President Mike Malli, Secretary Lyane Cypres, Treasurer Rochelle Unico, Assistant Treasurer Ogie Dizon, Assistant Auditor Vernalyn Almachar and this writer, who is the Public Relations Officer, were present during a short meeting at the company conference room.
When Dufort asked Marcelino what his position entails, the latter informed the group that he will continue what he and his team have been doing in the past years with the Consular Outreach Programs.
This includes visa and passport processing.
Marcelino also said that there will be an Outreach Program activity for passport renewals from Sept. 21-24 but will only cater to those who sent emails or called for an appointment. He added that the next session will be Nov. 16-19 in Winnipeg.
The Consul General advised Laarni Santos to make a list of those workers who are up for passport renewals and submit the compilation to the website of the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto.
For those who work outside of HyLife, Marcelino gave FANA the task of collecting the names and passport numbers of those who want to apply for renewal.
Orli Marcelino has always been into public service. His wife, Flor, mentioned in one interview that, when they were younger, they were often involved in activist ideas of social justice and human rights.
Marcelino graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts, Major in Visual Communications at one of the Philippines most prestigious schools, the University of the Philippines.
When the couple first moved to Canada in 1982, he was employed as a Technical Illustrator and Contractor in various companies in both Montreal and Winnipeg. At one time, Marcelino worked in Savannah, GA in the United States of America.
In January of 2012 till May of this year, he worked as a College Instructor at Red River College.
Despite the fact that Marcelino and his wife both worked on a full-time basis, they were active members of their church and community.
In 1996, they started a community newspaper in Winnipeg called the “Philippine Times”. They wanted to keep the Filipinos aware of the issues back home.
Flor Marcelino, MLA, was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba in 2007 in the electoral division of Wellington. She was then re-elected in 2011 in the new electoral district of Logan.
The couple has five children, the youngest of which is 19 years old.
The Filipino workers and their families are very much relieved that there is now a Consul General who can help with visa and passport concerns.
I met Orli Marcelino during one of his Outreach Programs in Winnipeg last June. He is such a pleasant, charismatic and intelligent person.
The group of Filipinos from Neepawa who travelled all the way to Winnipeg that day admired him for being so candid and accommodating.