Antonio Ortega is a man who is always after God’s heart. Even before he began his journey in Canada, he was already doing God’s work in the Philippines.
Originally from Nivel Hills, Busay, Cebu City, Tony was born in Masbate. He grew up in Cebu, and eventually decided to study for his Bachelor of Art Major in Economics and his Master in Management Major Public Services Management degree at the University of San Jose Recoletos of the Order of the Augustinian Recollect (OAR) in Cebu City.
“Like all people my age, I wanted to make a difference in my community, and I looked to be employed in the government as a first choice so that I can serve,” he says. Tony worked in Cebu City Government from 1988 to 2009.
“I was the head of the Administrative Department of the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management under the Office of the Mayor Cebu City. I was one of the members of the board of Cebu Jaycees-a group of young leaders worldwide,” he shares. Tony adds that his exposure to the public and private sectors in Cebu Philippines was very helpful for him to fulfill his mission to serve others.
“Until now, I am still carrying the desire of having a community connection,” he adds.
Tony and his family came to Canada in 2009 under the Provincial Nominee Program and he says that he is very thankful for the opportunity that Canada gave him. He works at Ikea Richmond, but he is actively doing community work because he believes it is also his responsibility to showcase who we are as a Filipino Community.
“My family settled in Canada because I believe the future of my kids is better in a multicultural society,” Tony shares.
Tony is the founder of the Cebuano Society in Canada-British Columbia, among other community activities he is busy with.
“We decided to name it the Cebuano Society in Canada-BC for the plan to have its chapter in different provinces in Canada. I got involved with the Cebuano Association to also have it represent Cebu for its culture, tourism, arts, trade, and religiosity,” Tony says.
“I believe sharing our culture with others is the best thing that we can do so there is no misunderstanding among others and also it leads to bridging the gap. We come from different regions in the Philippines and I am very sure that as a Filipino community we have something to showcase to the world.”
Tony and the whole Filipino community is currently busy with the building of the Senor Sto Nino De Cebu Shrine in Agassiz.
“This project is a project of the whole Filipino community in BC because the Senor Sto. Nino is a Filipino icon and devotion of the whole country,” Tony says. “It is the Filipino community’s gift to the Archdiocese of Vancouver.”
The Cebuano Society and other community organizations, the business sector, and private individuals are supporting this project, which is a brainchild of Fr. Dennis Flores of Saint Anthony of Padua in Agassiz. The groundbreaking of the Senor Sto Nino Shrine will be on May 8, 2022.
“We continue to do the different initiatives to fully complete the amount needed for the construction of the Shrine,” Tony says. “This project brings us all together as a community – one that is known for the greatness of our faith in God. This is what He wants from all of us.”