People often say religion and politics don’t mix. But for Emmanuel “Manny” Yanga, the two sectors of society work together just fine.
Leaving a life behind
Manny’s family moved to Canada on February 1994.
“My only brother, a family doctor in Toronto, was instrumental for my family’s migration in February 1994,” Manny recalled.
His brother’s busy schedule between the hospital and family clinic made it difficult for him to look after their parents who also migrated to Canada in 1985, as well as visit Manny’s family in the Philippines. His hectic schedule moved him to ask Manny and his family to join him in Canada and stay with their parents.
“So, in 1992 he phoned and asked if we can come over and be with our parents,” Manny shared. “It took us more than a year to fully decide… It was a real tough decision.”
As an employee of a corporate giant for 18 years and with their children still attending school (two daughters, 9 and 14 years young at that time), the decision to move to a foreign land didn’t come easy.
Manny knows greener and better pastures await them in Canada, but leaving their life in the Philippines wasn’t easy to do.
Back then even Manny’s eldest son wasn’t ready to leave everything behind.
“My eldest son, who works for television and the movies, decided to be left behind when we came,” he said. “I should say [that’s] the best decision he made.”
His eldest son became one of the most “sought-after scriptwriters for primetime shows and TV commercials.” Today, Manny’s proud to say that his son is now a very successful man.
“He is currently the Vice-President of the company they established with his 4 colleagues in the business for other TV stations and corporate events of big companies as well for ads and movie commercials,” he beamed.
Leaving the place where one grew up, fell in love, and built a life is never easy. In spite of homesickness, Manny and his family did their best to overcome the obstacles they faced in their new home.
“The change in culture and climate were the differences that almost changed our plan and [almost went back] to Manila a year after,” Manny confessed.
The differences in culture and the extreme weather situations in Canada almost broke their will, but they together they stood and stayed. But there was a bigger challenge ahead.
At some point after moving to Canada, their younger son decided to go back to the Philippines to take a pre-medical course for two years.
“[It] made my wife worry because our two young daughters look up to my son for help going around Toronto,” he shared.
Being far away from his son caused some distress, but thankfully—just two weeks before his son’s immigrant status expired—they got a call from him saying that he’s going back to Canada for good.
“That was the turning point,” he pointed out. “I attributed it to our family prayers and my son’s love for his younger sisters and us—his parents… That drew him to come back to Canada for good.”
Like most Filipino-Canadians, Manny still has relatives in the Philippines whom he misses terribly. However, when we asked him what he missed the most about his home country, Manny answered with a smile.
“The things I missed most are the people, the sumptuous authentic Filipino food, the fresh fruits, and the beautiful and fascinating vacation resorts,” he answered.
From faith to power
In his community, both in the Philippines and in Toronto, Manny is known as a man of faith.
“Being very active way back in the Philippines, I was exposed to a lot of social, civic and religious organizations then,” he shared.
“I was active then with Rotary Club of Cubao East as Club Secretary, Charter President of Manila Buklod-Bayan Lions Club and Manila Bisig-Bayan Lions Club in Mendiola and Morayta, Manila,” he enumerated. “At the same time, [I’m] an active leader of Couples for Christ Catholic Charismatic prayer group and the Knights of Columbus – Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Council in Antipolo where we hold monthly medical and dental services to poor kababayans in the community. [I was also] a Euchristic Minister and a Lector-slash-Commentator at Sunday masses at the Antipolo Church Cathedral.”
Now, after living for 20 years in Canada, he decided to run for local office. So, why the switch from church to politics?
“Actually it goes hand in hand,” he said about faith and public office.
“When you meet people in the church, it’s more likely almost always the very same people you’d come to serve in the community. In essence, it’s doing the same kind of service just in a different country,” he continued.
His faith led him to serve the people in his community as a member of the church. Now, Manny is campaigning to be a TCDSB Trustee of Ward 7 North York – Scarborough.
As a Filipino, he wants to instill a specific Pinoy trait to his community.
“The Filipino trait I want to teach and remain in the hearts of all Filipinos is the bayanihan spirit,” he said.
The bayanihan spirit—coupled by his strong faith—fuels Manny to do more and do better for his community.
When asked about his campaign platform, he came up with a straightforward answer.
“My campaign platform is pretty simple: To bring back and keep our Catholic faith, teachings, and culture in Catholic Schools,” he answered.
“Our kids [should] learn the value of being a true, practicing Catholic. We need to uphold the basic teachings of the Catholic Church no matter what [the] circumstances may be,” he added.
The elections for TCDSB Trustees will be on October 27, 2014.