BLOG: “Nothing warms the heart like an old friend.”


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.

Posted in Annoucer Blogs, Donna Natividad-Arenas