Four newcomers from the Philippines were welcomed to Portage la Prairie in a manner that was beyond their expectations, causing them to say that Manitoba really is 'friendly.' MLA Jeff Bereza hosted a welcome lunch with several local political representatives along with immigration service workers in attendance. 

All of the new residents are nurses, helping to fill a concerning gap in our system. Two of them included Jonald Regio and Krishia Banegan.

Regio says he's still adjusting, but he's halfway there in working with the culture and the community. 

"It's a lovely city," says Regio. "We met the mayor and everybody else. It was a warm welcome. We got to Portage last December 1, and into Canada on November 29. I'm from Manila, Philippines."

He adds that Portage is lovely so far, except for the weather. Despite a much warmer winter for us, it was still overwhelmingly extreme for them, being from the tropics. 

Krishia Banegan is working as a health care aide at Lions Prairie Manor.

"I like Portage, It's slow-paced. I didn't grew up as a city girl, as well," says Banegan. "Where I lived in the Philippines is kind of similar to Portage, except there are a lot of beaches where I came from. I'm used to being at the beach. But coming from a tropical country, it was kind of overwhelming at first, but you get used to the weather. So, it's been nice."

She notes she lived in Manila and worked there for a few years, but originally is from a province in the Philippines of Quezon, a six-hour drive from the city.

"I think I was meant to be in Portage, as well. It's been lovely. I see myself still living here five to ten years or even longer. I love Portage."

In our next edition of the newcomers installments story, PortageOnline will have words from two others who also enjoyed the welcome at the MLA's lunch.