Aljon "Jon" Castro projects social media positivity from Wingham
BY SCOTT STEPHENSON
The Citizen first came across Wingham-based Aljon “Jon” Castro on the popular social media platform TikTok (@Itsjoncastro) - his high-energy, unabashedly pro-snow videos stand out for their positive attitude on almost every subject. His motto: dream big and make it happen!
When the weather is at its coldest and snowiest, you can find the 25-year-old Castro making videos out on the street in his giant winter coat, occasionally even making snow angels. This amount of snow is fairly new to Castro, who moved here from the Philippines in December of last year, along with a few of his friends. Much of the writing in his posts is written in Tagalog, but you don’t need to know the language to understand that Castro has seriously positive vibes. The Citizen sat down with Castro recently to learn about what brought Wingham’s new biggest fan to town.
As it turns out, Castro came here for some very classic Canadian reasons - good health care, polite people and fast food. If you’ve eaten at the McDonald’s restaurants in Wingham or Goderich recently, it’s entirely possible that your food was prepared by Jon Castro, or one of his fellow Filipino transplants who moved here last year.
All over the world, there are agencies representing fast food employers like McDonald’s recruiting employees. Canada sounded like an exciting prospect to Castro, so he decided to apply for a job. “They conducted an interview, and luckily one of my friends was chosen to come work here in Canada. My friend Brian worked here at McDonald’s for a year, and then he recommended me to his boss, Rob.”
And why Wingham? Agencies in Canada and the Philippines work together to match potential employees with locations in need. Castro’s contract said Wingham, so Wingham it was. Based on his equal enthusiasm for a tropical beach as a snowdrift outside the Dollarama, it seems he would be happy anywhere.
Castro may not have worked at McDonald’s before, but he was no stranger to fast food. “We worked in fast food already, at Jollibee, which is a very famous Filipino fast food chain… my friend even went all the way to Mississauga just to get Jollibee and bring it back for us. We miss the food from home a lot.” In the Philippines, Jollibee and McDonald’s have long been competing for fast food dominance. Jollibee is famous for its succulent fried chicken - McDonald’s in the Philippines serves fried chicken as well. If Castro has any trade secrets from either of the fast service franchises, he knows better than to share them.
The culinary history of the Philippines is a rich and complex one - many different cultures have contributed elements to form a unique food landscape full of bold flavours. Castro’s favourite food from back home is sisig - a popular pork dish often enjoyed in his homeland. Castro and his friends love exploring the Huron County food scene, specifically mentioning Wingham’s Castings Public House, but they also enjoy recreating their favourite dishes from home. Castro is also more than happy to make traditional Filipino food on his off-days for his Canadian co-workers. “I hope I can cook you some sisig. I always bring Filipino foods for my co-workers to try. Luckily my general manager really loves it.”
What else do Castro and his friends get up to on their days off? “When it’s our day off in Wingham, we just walk around and go on the trails.” Castro also likes to head to Goderich, where some of his friends live and work. “Goderich has a lot to offer, especially the lake, and the fish, so we always go there.”
Castro is looking to enhance his skills now that he’s settled here in Huron County. “I love interacting with people, because they are very nice. I want to know people from here, and be friends with the new people we meet here,” he said at the end of the interview. So if you see this charming young gentleman on the street, be sure to say hello - if you’re lucky he’ll make you some sisig!