The Canadian experience

THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) - April 6, 2020 - 12:00am

Quarantine has been a challenging experience for ordinary people and governments across the globe. Nations are caught up in the struggle to contain COVID-19, police their citizens, and still function while bearing the burden of keeping its citizenry fed, financed and virus-free. The Philippines is starting to get a grip on the situation, while the US is now the new breeding ground for the infection. As this writer noted in Saturday’s column, if the most prosperous gambling city Las Vegas is now a veritable ghost town, that should serve as a stern warning.

What about across the US’ eastern border, in Canada? America’s neighbor has always had a strong health care system and renowned educational system. It is also known for lighter taxes that have attracted major Hollywood film and television producers. Those are some reasons why even Filipino sports personalities have been choosing to live there for decades. How are they coping with the pandemic?

Former race car driver Pia Boren migrated to Vancouver about six years ago. The outspoken Filipina-Finnish sportswoman brought a lot of attention to motor sports for years, and was photographed for several magazines for also pioneering drifting in the country. Boren was also the television courtside reporter for the San Beda Red Lions when they started dominating NCAA basketball 13 years ago. She has explored business ventures and started a public relations practice in Vancouver.

“I’m one of the lucky ones, because I still have some PR work,” says Boren, who independently sought out sponsors to sustain her racing career. “Although it’s been reduced a lot, I still have some income. I hope everyone at home stays healthy and strong.”

Meanwhile also in Vancouver, security expert and former PBA on-court security professional Jason Asuncion is likewise feeling the pinch. Asuncion, whose company APS Security provides protection for high-profile sports and entertainment celebrities like NBA players and big-name American bands who visit the Philippines, migrated with his family to Canada in 2009. In addition, Jason has since become a successful actor in the city dubbed “Hollywood North.” He has appeared in major American TV series like “Van Helsing,” “Bates Motel” and “Minority Report,” as well as dozens of commercials there. His latest triumph is a recurring role in the maiden season of Warner Bros.’ “Batwoman” television series starring Ruby Rose.

“No shooting for now.  Even my bouncer gigs stopped due to the shutdown,” Asunsion told The Star. “At least I still have my First Aid/Monitoring job at the seniors’ home. Hoping for the best for everyone back home.”

Former sports columnist Ramon Datol left the Philippines for cold, snowy Toronto roughly two decades ago. His popular column “Datol Order” was one of this writer’s favorites. He has been a pillar of the Filipino community in Toronto through his radio program there, and his newspaper The Filipino Courier, which he unfortunately had to shut down last November.

“I’m also under house quarantine,” Datol confirmed. 

“I only go out when I have a doctor’s appointment and to buy some basic needs. I’ve temporarily closed down my radio program. We were already losing money on the tabloid, so now I’m shifting focus to internet radio.”

It’s tough everywhere. But for Pia, Jason and Mon, the goal is to keep going and ride out the storm. Their Filipino drive to succeed keeps them going. 

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