Celebrating Asian Heritage Month with Mary Jeane

Celebrating Asian Heritage Month with Mary Jeane

Mary Jeane San Pedro

For Mary Jeane San Pedro, the last year has shown her what she already knew about herself:

“Filipinos are very resilient in times of calamities, catastrophes and problems. Instead of wallowing, we always manage to pick ourselves up with a smile and hope for a brighter tomorrow.”

As all of our lives have been uprooted for over a year, Mary Jeane responded with gratefulness instead of fear. Growing up in the Philippines gave her a context that put the changes and risks of the past year into perspective. Overall, she’s thankful. Thankful for safety, for her family, and for the community of people around her.

Mary Jeane immigrated to Canada 11 years ago with her husband and two children. Now, she works as a Confidential Assistant in our Engineering department and has been with TransLink for almost seven years. When asked what Asian Heritage Month means to her, she stated the importance of recognizing and celebrating Asian Canadians:

“Asian Heritage month is an important event for everyone to learn about the contributions of people with Asian descent and how they have worked hard to make this an amazing country that we share today. It is also an opportunity to show, tell and appreciate the beauty of Asian culture and history. This event also celebrates the success of all Asian Canadian people.”

Rather than look to others for inspiration, Mary Jeane finds it within herself. She’s always moving toward continuous improvement, getting better each day to become someone the people around her can look up to. “I make mistakes,” she says, “But I make sure I learn from those mistakes and move forward and upward, positively”.

She prides herself on bringing the hospitality, religion, and resilience of Filipino culture to her community, caring for her neighbours and strangers and building genuine relationships. Part of this hospitality, in non-pandemic times, is of course sharing food. Her favourite is the Filipino dish that’s loved by all – Adobo. Adobo is marinated chicken or pork in a brown sauce that’s full of sweet, sour, and salty flavours.

Celebrating Asian Heritage Month is important for us at TransLink, and we recognize that Asia is made up of many diverse histories, cultures, and peoples. We were grateful to learn more about Filipino culture through our conversation with Mary Jeane. One of the last questions we asked Mary Jeane was what advice she would give her younger self. Here’s what she had to say:

“Filipinos always take pride in their families, heritage and culture everywhere we go. We should always inspire each other and ready to help because resilience, adaptability and faith is what makes us Filipinos. We have shown we are most compassionate, selflessly, eager and always willing to help anyone in need at no cost.”

Mary Jeane also shared that what many people might not know about her is that she sings, loudly and energetically with her family and friends when they get together. Being a good singer isn’t a pre-requisite, because enthusiasm for the songs is all that matters – which seems like a useful life lesson in its own way.