“You do only what you can:” Florchita Bautista on exercising at CNH

Sep 5, 2023 | Community Stories

At 87, Florchita Bautista doesn’t seem to be slowing down. After decades of work supporting
labourers on the picket lines and amplifying the cause of Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada
as a nun, she’s now taking her time focusing on her well-being.

Florchita, who first moved to Toronto from the Philippines in 1987 where she spent 15 years
advocating for domestic workers, moved to Vancouver in 2001 after retiring from her role. She
first heard about Collingwood Neighbourhood House’s recreation programs while attending
service at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church. She had been previously exercising at the
community centres in Burnaby.

“I was looking for a place where I can exercise. Then I heard [about] this one and thought, why
don’t I try that one? I felt that my limbs are already starting to get rusty,” she said. Now she
encourages her fellow seniors to get moving as well.

Florchita looks forward to attending the recreation classes as much as she can. She likes the
flexibility that the programs offer, especially after she survived a heart attack.

“Even if I am not able to follow as vigorously as the others anymore, our facilitator/teacher is
very nice. She tells me, “you do only what you can.” The doctor also told me that. And if you feel
you are already too tired, you start feeling it a little bit, stop. And that’s what I do. So I am not
ashamed if I’m doing the other exercises already sitting down. I take myself for what I am.”

Florchita adds that exercising at Collingwood Neighbourhood House has helped her stay active
and regain her strength.

“Especially after my heart attack, I was more or less just at home, but now, I feel that [the
recreation classes are] really helping me.”

She also appreciates her fellow class participants for being understanding and supportive of her
accessibility needs.

“They are very nice—they are the ones to take the chairs, to bring back the chairs. And they do
not like me helping out to lift the chairs anymore, realizing my age. I really am the oldest among
them,” Florchita says.

For more information about recreation programs at CNH, please visit cnh.bc.ca/recreation
Portions of Florchita’s interview have been translated from Filipino.

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