Meet the Fil-Canadians behind 'Jeepney Cafe'

By Elizabeth Reymundo, ABS-CBN Canada

Posted at May 20 2014 10:36 AM | Updated as of May 21 2014 12:15 AM

Rich Albarquez of Jeepney Cafe's Pinoy Rainbow show

CANADA– For over for 40 years, Vancouver's Cooperative Radio Station has been "a voice for the voiceless", and one of the loudest heard over the radio waves is from a group of Filipino-Canadians in a program called "Jeepney Café".

In the heart of Vancouver's downtown eastside lies the broadcast center of Vancouver Co-Op Radio CFRO 100.5 FM, a public radio station owned by members and supported by listeners.

The 41-year-old radio station provides a voice for the different communities and nationalities that make up the city.

"We tag on so many different aspects of the community, the issues the community is facing including arts, entertainment and culture as well to connect to folks who are here, who migrated here for work, who moved here from the Philippines, to get that connection with the community," said Jon Nieto of Balikbayan Mix tape, one of the program's shows.

Co-Op Radio gives Vancouver's Filipino-Canadians a vehicle to share news and views with the community.

Jeepney Cafe is a program comprised of four different shows. It is hosted and produced by volunteers who provide information and content that are not accessible to the community.

The show "Isyung Pinoy" examines the challenges and opportunities of Filipino immigrants in Canada while "Balikbayan Mix Tape" creates a connection to Filipino roots through music.

"We bring the arts and culture component to Jeepney Cafe by playing lots of music, trying to create a connection using music, art, maybe a message with history or culture or language. So it's using arts and culture to bridge the gap for Filipinos to learn more about their culture," said Eirene Cloma, also of Balikbayan Mix Tape.

"Land in Life" puts the spotlight on issues and challenges that plague the Philippine agricultural community.

"My goal here is to bring awareness to the human environment relationship, but particularly within the context of what's going on in the Philippines. What's going on within the peasant community, what's going on in the food movement, both in the Philippines and the larger global context," said Amber Heckelmann.

"Pinoy Rainbow" focuses on issues that affect the Filipino Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.

"We also want to raise awareness and also tolerance and acceptance. It's very diverse and we would like to have this opportunity--like a platform for us show a lot of people especially the Filipinos here in Vancouver--that we are here to make a statement," said Rich Abarquez.

Jeepney Cafe airs on 100.5 FM every Saturday at 5 p.m.