Joanna Bersamina is excited to be the new president of the South East-Man Filipino Association or SEMFA. 

For those that don't know her, Bersamina says she moved to Canada a number of years ago as an international student. 

She notes “I have been working as a human resources professional since I completed my program. Currently, I work as a Director of HR in an organization here in southeast Manitoba. Career-wise, I have around 14 years of leading teams, culture, program planning, and governance. I've been very, very passionate about supporting the community.” 

Bersamina actually lives in the south end of Winnipeg and commutes to Steinbach for work. Before she began her HR job in Steinbach, she had reached out to the past president of SEMFA, Greg Carlos. 

“I was asking 'how is it like there? Are there any resources that are available for Filipinos like me?' We built a friendship and then one day we we're talking about the opportunity to be the next president and I thought, 'oh, it's actually a really good opportunity with my experience and with the direction of SEMFA right now,' I thought it would be a good fit and then it finally happened.” 

Bersamina and the rest of the new leadership team began their two-year term earlier this month with their first meeting on January 20th. She notes they are moving forward with three strategic pillars to guide the organization. First, they want to focus on the people they serve. 

“We want to enhance the well-being of the Filipino community living in southeast Manitoba through the social, intellectual, spiritual, occupational and environment areas.” 

Financial stability is the second pillar. She notes “we are a pretty small organization, very, very small, so we're hoping to also have more sustainable funding and just diversify our funding streams to be able to spearhead a lot of initiatives for the well-being of the Filipinos.” 

Finally, Bersamina says they committed to enhancing social capital, adding “We want to create and sustain our relationships with our volunteers, sponsors and the public. Basically, overall, we want SEMFA to be the bridge between the Filipino community to the wider community and the community to the Filipino members living in southeast Manitoba.” 

Bersamina says SEMFA is a special organization, and she is proud to be a part of it.  

On the more personal side, we asked Joanna a few light-hearted questions to get to know her better. Here is that full conversation. 

Favorite TV show? 

Depends what's on Netflix. I do watch more often Filipino movies. There's what we call the Metro Manila Film Festival, where every December they show a lot of nice movies, so I'm starting to to watch that. 

If you were to introduce your favorite classic Filipino food to me or to anybody else in the southeast, what would you go with?  

I'm a big foodie. I used to live in north area in Winnipeg years ago and one thing that I like about that area, there's just a lot of Filipino restaurants and I live alone and it's very easy for me to just go for my breakfast or whatever. Now that I live in the South area, there's not really a lot of Filipino restaurants. The top three, I'd say like Adobo, I like also, the pastries, any pastries of the Philippines, I really like it and also the famous Lumpiang Shanghai.  

Winter or summer?  

Both. It's hard, I like winter. I really like winter and the fact that there's something to look forward to after the warm weather, I really like it. 

Sports or reality TV?  

Reality TV.  

Sauna or hot tub?  

It's hard, I like both! I like sauna, I could do it every day, but hot tub, I cannot do it every day. 

Big City or out in the country?  

I like being out in the country, but the big city is accessible just for resources, but I like the serenity.  

How about hobbies? You have any hobbies?  

In my free time, I do volunteer in different organizations. I'm part of the board in some organizations. I'm also very passionate in supporting the Filipino international community. One thing that I like about that community is that I gained a lot of friends from there, a lot of them are my closest friends right now. I do yoga, I like doing yoga and I love traveling. I like getting to know more about different cultures, customs, and traditions.