She hasn’t heard about selfies. She doesn’t know about Facebook.
She doesn’t care about smart phones. But this woman is more well-skilled and more intelligent than anyone else we know.
She is able to survive a life all by herself which started when she moved to Winnipeg forty years ago.
Call her street smart. (Sometimes I call her Dely Magpayo or Gabriela Silang).
She is Nanay Remy— my first and original Nanay in Winnipeg.
She proves me a lot of times that one doesn’t need to finish high education or have very high grasp of English to make a meaningful conversation.
You will not find her in high-profile social functions. Her smile is her only make-up. She has a modest and private life.
She is never been married but she loves genuinely. The church is her usual sanctuary.
She may look reserved or very frank at times. But she always speaks from the heart.
From her, I learned the hard truth about SURVIVAL.
Being part of the first wave of garment workers and immigrants in Manitoba in the 70s, Nanay Remy shared me lessons on how to be TOUGH.
Her only shield is her faith.
The first time our paths crossed in one of the snowy sidewalks of downtown Winnipeg was back in 2004.
I was single, newcomer. with little experience and knowledge of life in cold Winnipeg, with a few trusted friends and a few dollars on my pocket.
I will never forget this woman who gave me shelter during those LOWEST moments of my life.
She walked and rode the bus with me . She was there when I moved to my first apartment. Or when I mourned because of my father’s sudden death.
We laughed. We argued. She scolded me sometimes. But she was always ready to listen.
Nanay Remy gave me something money couldn’t buy — her heart.
Time flies. We have lost connection and only talked to each other or met once in a while in those previous years.
I have my own family now. She has long retired and is now in her mid 70s. Her physical mobility is more limited now than when we first met past 12 years
ago. Her hair is more grey than black. She is a little weak and walks slower now. But we still get along and keep conversations that only us understand.
She told me she is happy and content.
Please say THANK YOU if you see her.
Her hard work (and that of other immigrant pioneers) is one reason why Canada started to open its doors for people like me to move and settle in Canada
the years after.
She can be anyone’s Nanay but one has to to win her heart to get her trust.
She thinks like a CIA agent. But loves like a true friend and a real mother.