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Filipino Canadian Paul Ong recognized as among Manitoba's 'Future 40'

Rowena Papasin | TFC News Vancouver

Posted at Dec 07 2022 10:02 AM

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Out of more than a hundred nominees, only ten were chosen by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) for this year's Future 40 for the province of Manitoba.

This is given to Manitobans aged forty and below who have made the province's future a little brighter.

Among this year's awardees is Filipino Canadian vice principal Paul Ong who has been doing annual concerts for a cause since 2016. Ong feels honored by this recognition of his efforts to better the lives of the less fortunate in the province.

"We've worked really, really hard with the community to create transparency and accountability with our concerts for a cause. And being recognized within the provincial level and through CBC really highlights and validates that what we're doing is credible," Ong shared.

When their family moved to Canada in 2010, Ong thought that he had also left behind his passion for singing.

But just a couple of years later, he would find himself onstage again as a semi-finalist on Canada's Got Talent.

He went on to represent Canada at the World Championship for the Performing Arts (WCOPA) in 2015 and gave a 'thank you' concert to those who supported him when he came back.

With many in the audience asking about when he would hold his next performance, Ong started working on his first 'Concert for a Cause' the following year.

He performed together with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and also invited many talented students to join him.

"As a teacher, I'm seeing that there's so much talent, and yet they're not really given a platform," Ong pointed out. "That piece I think was what's motivating me the most and the thought na nagagamit ko po yung ipinahiram sakin na talento to make a difference."

The 'Concert for a Cause has since turned into an annual event, raising over $70,000 for various charities in Manitoba. Proceeds from the yearly concerts have been used to help military families, support the Children's Heritage Fund, food and shelter programs, and cancer care. They also funded music lessons for underprivileged kids.

Ong said the children will be able to continue their lessons from the proceeds of their concert next year.

"The whole philosophy is that music and performing arts could change the trajectory of somebody's life. So that really and as a child, I think music has been a huge, huge factor on how I've been able to get to where I am right now."

The youth advocate and volunteer added he feels fulfilled that he is able to use his talent as a classical singer and performer to give back to the community.

"There's nothing more gratifying than giving back. It just fills you up and the more you give, the more you receive, and I've seen it in action and nothing, talagang nakakabusog ng puso talaga, sobra."

The 'Concert for a Cause' will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2024, and Ong hopes this will raise enough funds so they can build homes for poor communities in the Philippines.