Top 5 PROBLEMS we encountered as a NEW immigrant in Canada

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Settling into a new country is a very long journey filled with stress and tension and more often than not, the whole process is arduous and draining. You basically feel like complete strangers trying to fit in a whirlpool of a new and modern system in a foreign land when you initially settle in. The hope of having a better and brighter future for your family seemed to be elusive at first but fear not, once you embrace your new life whilst accepting the fact that the forthcoming journey would be very difficult, all your hard work will eventually come into fruition. Trust me, mine did.

A year after our arrival, I will tell you straight from our experiences the difficulties we faced when we first arrived here in Canada. As everyone knew firsthand, the move has not been easy for us. We all knew that moving in between countries is an expensive process which involves a lot of money, time and most especially, a lot of effort. Aside from that, here are the list of the difficulties we faced in our first year (in no particular order):

1. Lack of Credit History
In Canada, when it comes to making purchases, most people use financing. For newcomers like us, basically we have a zero credit rating (since we are relatively new and we do not own any property). What affects us are the following:
1.1 Finding an Apartment
Since we, like most Filipinos who migrate to Canada, are not millionaires when we came here, we couldn’t afford to buy a house right off the bat, therefore we needed to rent an apartment but since we don’t have a credit history, they rejected us in renting an apartment. In our case, we needed to pay a whole year’s worth of rent expense in order for them to accommodate us. Yeah, it sucks but that’s their way of making sure that they are paid even when all hell breaks loose and you find yourself in unlucky situations.
2.2 Commuting
At first, I knew nothing about this little City of Winnipeg. Going from point A to point B proved to be very difficult because I am a newcomer! Especially when your only medium of public transportation a.k.a the bus (taxis are impractical especially when you’re a newcomer, transit fares are cheaper), have a designated time of arrival only on designated stops that you will have to wait. Obtaining a driver’s license is also extremely difficult because of all the rules you have to memorize and all the tests you will have to prepare for. Purchasing a car, especially a brand new one, right off the bat is also quite impossible since most likely you will be rejected because of your lack of credit history unless you are paying with cash which is also probably running out by that time. So, your only chance of reaching point B is to ride the transit whether you like it or, you have no choice, you WILL like it.
In short, our budget was drained in just a few months after our arrival. Now I know why Immigration Canada requires a settlement fund for all aspiring immigrants. Of course, we couldn’t have done it without the help of our sponsors and relatives, because of them we overcame all our problems.

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Advice: Make sure you have enough settlement fund (extra is always better). Settling, especially if you don’t have any relatives, would be more difficult.

2. Weather
By now, I think everyone would probably know that Winnipeg is the coldest city in Canada and the world. After all, they named it Winterpeg, Manisnowba. Of course, our first winter was an amazing experience and we will always remember it as something very unique and special. Since we were born and raised in a tropical country, adjusting to the harsh winter climate was one of the greatest challenge we ever faced. The winter here is so severe that you will need to wear glasses to protect it from the cold because your eyes can freeze like ice pops LOL. It’s so cold to the point that all your blood are being squeezed out from your skin and your paled, cracked and pinched extremities suffer the brunt of the savage wind-chill. Oh, what is it called? Dry skin, clogged nose, cracked blue skin that develops into a wound and, God forbid, hypothermia? Well, just imagine you are in a place colder than your average refrigerator where temperatures plummet down up to -50 at broad daylight, but I guess it’s alright, at least we get to enjoy ice skating and tobogganing, eh? Not to mention Canada’s sport, hockey.

Advice: Always check the weather before heading out for the day. Maybe turn your television on and watch out for the news while you enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, or check the weather app in your smartphone. It won’t hurt. Bringing an extra layer of clothing or jacket would also prove to be very smart rather than face old man winter’s fury and freeze to death. Our winter tips can be read here.

3. Language Barrier
I’m not entirely biased, but I think Filipinos have this very special ability of adapting very quickly and effectively in terms of speaking in a foreign tongue amongst all other Asians in here. We can speak or should I say “I” can speak English carabao but my biggest problem is understanding their words when they speak with an accent. Yes, I had a hard time understanding them but it’s just a matter of time, I’m sure you’ll get used to it. Grammar wise, I always have my ‘palusot’ since I got my degree, “I am an Engineer, there is no wrong grammar in Math”. Of course, it was only in my mind. Let me put it this way, it’s not only you. You are not alone. There are lots of people who doesn’t even have a perfect grammar, even Canadians!

Advice: Relax, just be yourself. The most important thing is that you convey your message, you get your point across and everyone understands it. Canadians are naturally forgiving and understanding. They won’t poke fun at you because you don’t have an accent and you can’t speak English fluently because truth be told, the first who will scrutinize you is, unfortunately, your own race.

4. Social Interaction
Missing the support of friends, family and extended social circles is a big factor for most newcomers. Luckily, there are a lot of orgs, clubs and Filipino institutions that you have at your disposal whenever you’ll need them. In Winnipeg, look for Manitoba BM if you are in process on your visa,  Life of Peg if you want to discuss life in Winnipeg and some sports buddy and 204 FM, the hot group as of today if you miss Filipino foods and of course, our relatives here. Most especially, our Pinoy-Canada.Com followers and subscribers who continues to support and spread the joy of the Filipino spirit through the use of the internet. Mabuhay kayo!

Advice: Look for Filipino Communities in your area (hanging out with your fellow kababayans will surely make you feel at home!) and Like our page!

5. Jobs
Finding a job was probably the most difficult circumstance I’ve ever been through and it definitely is on the top of my list. I was a Licensed Engineer back in the Philippines but when I came to Canada I learned that they do not recognize credentials from other countries. It’s just either you “challenge” it by taking a test or you go to school again to acquire Canadian credentials for you to maintain your profession. I’ve worked in Singapore before but still my foreign experience was ignored. I will write a separate story of my survival jobs.

Advice: Take whatever job is available. I know this is VERY difficult for some especially when you have a high paying white collar job back in the Philippines. Finding a job and slowly moving up the ladder is incredibly difficult. I started as a sub-contract in my current company, received a salary increase after 6 months and before my 1 year, I was absorbed and am now a regular employee. Hooray! Long way to go!  Ooops, didn’t I tell you I will write separate story on this? 

In conclusion, we experienced highs and lows during our first year in Canada but I am still grateful because based on the statistics of most people I talked to, most of them took 2-3 years before they become stable and if you did that in just a year, you are lucky! (and rich, I guess) For us, well, we are not at the same level as what we have been before migrating but we are on the right track. Looking back, I can now proudly say that we have come a long way (no pun intended), we have gone through terrible times and we are still standing and all I can say now is it’s all worth it. Up to now, I can never deny that we still face problems in any way, shape, or form in our daily lives but the best feeling above all is having that sense of fulfillment when you overcome these hardships knowing that you worked your butt off trying to reach this point, knowing that nobody handed you the good life, you worked hard for it, you EARNED it.

Good luck newcomers!

Note: This is a case-specific problem. It may differ from yours. Like those who has children, no family etc. So, if you have encountered problems aside from the ones aforementioned above, you may add them in the comment section below so we can know how you successfully overcame all of them and who knows, maybe we will add in a Part 2 with your name on it so that you can effectively share your amazing story with the rest of the world.

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STUDENT PATHWAY Part 2: Frequently Asked Questions

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1. Magkano ang Show Money? – Show money may deceive you by thinking that it will really end up as “show” money (aka pwedeng-utangin-muna-then-ibabalik-pag-na-approve-na). NO! Big NO! If you think this is possible in other streams, in student pathway, you CANNOT. The funds you used to “show” in your application should be proven accessible UNTIL YOU ENTER Canada. So this cannot be returned to wherever you took the funds from. This is not necessarily in cash form but could be presented as manager’s cheque or bank drafts (other forms available in cic website).

So how much do you actually need? Depende sa school kung san ka makakakuha ng LOA (Letter of Acceptance). Tuition from schools are not the same so when you do your computation, make sure you INCLUDE your whole expenses for the school and your funds for 1 yr (10,000CAD). If your course is longer, more funds will be needed. Do the math (mahina ako jan hehe). If you are to go with a family member, you will add 4,000 CAD per year for the 1st family member and 3,000 cad per year for the 2nd family member and succeeding members. Again, do the math 🙂 You can consult cic website for a clearer picture of this. In my case, our savings account plus the accounts of my parents put together were indicated clearly in my SOP.

2. How much ang expenses when you decide to take this path? – Expenses vs Proof of Funds. Expenses are the money you need to cash out to prepare your documents and requirements in preparation for your application. This also includes expenses for accompanying family members.

IELTS Exam – Academic ONLY for schools that require it. Again, check if you need to take it before booking for an exam. You may need to contact the school directly for this information. You may also need to enroll for review classes if you’re a first timer. This costs around 9,000 pesos depends kung British Council or IDP. If you need to review, include the review fees as well.

• Transcript of Records – Schools may require this when they process your eligibility so make sure you have copies of these or you may have to request these in your respective schools.

3. How long will the process take? – Lodging of student permit application per se is about 6 weeks in average. Ours took 32 days to get approved. It really depends on how fast you can comply with the requirements. It is the longest 32 days of our lives. (Grabeeeh)

Can I bring my spouse with me (as Open Work Permit)? Can we lodge the application together? – YES and YES. Kelangan lang din to ng diskarteng petmalu. While it is possible to bring even your entire family in applying for student permit, you need to strategize your technique in doing so. Huwag bira ng bira. You need to consider this as well when writing your SOPs, you have to explain EVERYTHING. Why are you bringing your family members with you? Why is it important that you are together? Do you have ENOUGH FUNDS for the entire family?

Children are also to be considered in doing your application. How old are they? Do you need someone else to tend to them when you’re busy studying and your spouse working? Can you manage the household with that set-up? Remember that while you are adjusting to the new environment, your children do too. Ponder on that scenario when all of you are adjusting but needs to do work or study and also be parents to your children. Kung kaya naman, then push through with the application. If you have doubts you can do it, especially if you don’t have relatives in Canada, maybe you can postpone (not cancel) bringing your family with you.

5. Does Student Path have age limit? – Wala po. Pero like sir Nyorks Abayon always say, issue ang gap of study with connection to age. The VO may doubt your true intentions in being a student. “Why only now and not when you’re younger?” You NEED to explain and justify your situation in your SOP.

6. Can I apply for PR after studying? – It is not the Canadian Education that will give your application a boost (though it can also boost it, not so much though) but the 1 year Canadian Skilled Work (under NOC A B 0) experience after studying. Make sure you have enrolled in a public school so you can be given a Post Graduate Work Permit after you finish school. That 1 yr skilled work will be your ticket to Permanent Residency. Process is not automatic so you have to apply this the moment you have already complied with the requirements aka Graduated from school. Tyaga tyaga lang po.

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#1, Canada is the 2019 Best Country for Quality of Life

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The 2019 Best Countries Ranking is published by U.S. News and World Report and done in partnership with BAV Group as well as the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is based in a study that surveyed more than 20,000 global citizens from four regions to assess perceptions of 80 countries on various metrics.
Canada took the top spot for the Quality of Life category in the latest rankings. This is the country’s fourth consecutive time in the category ranking’s top spot.
In this category, countries are ranked based on 9 metrics: goods and services affordability, a good job market, economically stable, family friendly, income equality, politically stable, safe, well-developed public education system and well-developed public health system.

Top 10 Countries for Quality of Life

  1. Canada
  2.  Sweden
  3. Denmark
  4. Norway
  5. Switzerland
  6. Finland
  7. Australia
  8. Netherlands
  9. New Zealand
  10. Germany

There are other subrankings which Canada was regarded to be part of the Top 3 (see below). In fact, in the Overall rankings, Canada was the 3rd best country in the world out of 80 countries.
Overall Best Countries Ranking

  1. Switzerland
  2. Japan
  3. Canada
  4. Germany
  5. United Kingdom
  6. Sweden
  7. Australia
  8. United States
  9. Norway
  10. France

Best Countries for Citizenship

  1. Norway
  2. Canada
  3. Switzerland

 
Best Countries for Women

  1. Sweden
  2. Denmark
  3. Canada

 
Best Countries for Education

  1. United Kingdom
  2. United States
  3. Canada
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Look: The Top 6 Canadian Provinces with Huge Filipino Presence

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Canada is one of the top destinations in the world, may it be for tourism or immigration. There are many reasons why it is and one will only find these out if one tries to learn more about the country.
Being a vast country, Canada has a lot to offer be it in terms of lifestyle or tourism, nature or bustling city life. It is also one of the worlds’ most multicultural nations. Various nationalities and cultures are well represented in all ten provinces and three territories. In fact, the influx of Filipino immigrants began in 1960s and continued on until today.
Most Filipinos were brought in as part of job recruitments early on. However, due to Canada’s Family Reunification Program that began in the 1970s, more and more Filipinos have also moved in. With the Filipino population rapidly growing, let us get to know the unique attributes and attractions of the top six provinces (with huge Filipino presence) that made them stay. 1.

6. Saskatchewan

Capital: Regina
Population: 1,098,352 (33,630 Filipinos)

Saskatchewan is the third prairie province, located between Alberta and Manitoba. In terms of economy, Saskatchewan supplies more than half of Canada’s wheat. It is the second largest oil producer, and the third largest producer of natural gas in the country. The agriculture and energy industries here employ most of the Filipinos in the province.

5. Quebec

Capital: Quebec City
Population: 8,164,361 (37,910 Filipinos)

Quebec is the second most populous province and is located in the eastern part of the country. It is a mainly French-speaking society and Quebecois are very proud of their language and culture. As a matter of fact, Quebec City and Montreal clearly show the presence of their rich culture with the restored and maintained historic buildings and other infrastructures.
The economy of Quebec is mainly based on the services and mining sector. Most of the Canadian IT companies are based in Montreal and Quebec City. The mining sector of Quebec ranks among the top ten in the world.

4. Manitoba

Capital: Winnipeg
Population: 1,278,365 (83,530 Filipinos)

Manitoba is located in the center of Canada, Ontario on the east, Saskatchewan on the west, Northwest Territories on the north, and North Dakota on the south. It is known as the “The land of 100,000 lakes” due to its watery geography.
There was a high influx of Filipinos in Manitoba in the 1960s-70s due to the recruitment for workers and professionals in Manitoba. Manitoba’s economy relies heavily on agriculture, tourism and energy. Big Food Manufacturing plants that supply fast-food giants, like McDonald’s and Wendy’s, are located in Manitoba.
Filipinos can easily feel at home and find work anywhere in this province. In fact, there the only Jollibee stores in Canada are located in Winnipeg.

3. British Columbia

Capital: Victoria
Population: 4,648,055 (158,215 Filipinos)

British Columbia, colloquially referred to as BC, is Canada’s westernmost province bordering the Pacific Ocean. Many mountain ranges run through British Columbia, including the Rockies, Selkirks, and Purcells. Thus, the province has the best climate for Filipinos as it can warm but not sweltering, and cold but not freezing.
The forestry and mining industries in this province is big and most of the first Filipinos here work in these industries. The employment market in the service industry here is growing mostly in finance, insurance, real estate and corporate management.

2. Alberta

Capital: Edmonton
Total Population: 4,067,175 (175,130 Filipinos)

Alberta is a western province sandwiched in-between British Columbia on the left and Saskatchewan on the right. It is the fourth largest Canadian province and one of the three Prairie Provinces. The province is rich in terms of natural resources. The oil and natural gas, and sugar industry are big here and they employ a lot of Filipinos.
There are many different kinds of natural landscapes, such as forests, a portion of the Canadian Rockies, flat prairies, glaciers, canyons, and lots of farmland. Alberta’s national parks are home to wildlife creatures. As for urbanized areas, Calgary and Edmonton are popular large cities in the province.

  1. Ontario

Capital: Toronto
Population: 13,448,494 (337,760 Filipinos)

Ontario is the second largest province in Canada. It is also the most populous province in Canada as it is home to the nation’s capital, Ottawa, and the world-class city, Toronto.
Northern Ontario is rich in natural resources which explains why its economy heavily depends on forestry and mining. Southern Ontario is industrialized, urbanized, and serves Canadian and U.S. markets. In fact, almost half of the people living in the Greater Toronto Area are foreign-born which includes a lot of Filipinos. The central business district of Ontario in Toronto is where most Filipinos choose to work as it offers various work opportunities in many different sectors.

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Look: Tagalog, the Fastest Growing Language in Canada

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When you ask most Filipino immigrants in Canada, they would tell you that they feel at home in Canada. This might surprise you as Canada is far from being like the Philippines. With the weather, culture and economy, the two countries would definitely be worlds apart. However, what makes it feel like home to most Filipinos is the number of fellow Filipinos they see around. The fellow Pinoys who they can speak to in Tagalog make it feel like home more than anything else.
In the 2011 census, Tagalog, being the official language of the Philippines, is the most popular immigrant mother tongue in Canada after Chinese. We have seen a huge growth in the numbers speaking Tagalog if we look at the 2016 census. Canada’s fastest-growing language is Tagalog.
Top languages other than English or French spoken at home. Census 2016

Tagalog is now the top immigrant language in the Prairies and the territories. The growth can be attributed to the fact that British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba all signed memorandums of understanding with the Philippines to fill labour shortages in the provinces. These provinces really did recruiting heavily in the Philippines in the recent years.
European languages are seen to be losing dominance. For example, in 2011, German is the top-reported mother tongue in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (other than English or French). In 2016, it has been reported to be Tagalog.
If we look at the major cities though, it may be different. Other than English or French, Cantonese is the top language in Vancouver and Toronto, and Tagalog is the top in Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Winnipeg.
Nevertheless, the growth in the immigrant languages does not mean that they are replacing English or French. In fact, 70% of people who speak an immigrant language at home also speak English or French.

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Jollibee in Calgary, Coming Soon!

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With a Jollibee restaurant currently being built in Edmonton, another one seems to be in the works in Alberta. When a lot of Pinoys are asking for it, apparently the Jollibee Canada management listens!
Our kababayans in Calgary will surely be excited about this. Based on a leaked photo, the supposed location for the new Jollibee is at the Pacific Place Mall. There won’t be a need to drive for 3hours anymore.
PhotoCredit:

Stay updated about Jollibee news by joining our Facebook group – Calgary. 
When you see anything news worthy, share it with us and we might just help you spread the news.

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Good News: Schools in Canada to teach Filipino language

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According to Statistics Canada based on 2018 numbers,  Alberta is home to 175,130 Filipinos, making up 4.3% of its population and it is continuously growing. In fact, Tagalog is the second-most spoken non-official language in the province.

With these in mind, some districts of Alberta have launched Filipino-centered curriculum back in March 2018 in selected schools. Under this curriculum, they have been offering Filipino language classes with courses that were locally developed. However, these schools have limited slots for students which confines the potential of the curriculum to reach more aspirants to learn Tagalog and the Filipino culture.

Fortunately, the premier of Alberta, Premier Rachel Notley, has announced that the local government is taking steps in expanding the learning opportunities for more students by developing a Filipino language and culture curriculum. As early as next year, families who want their children to enroll under the K-12 Filipino language and culture curriculum will have more options.

The K-12 Filipino language and culture curriculum will not be mandatory for all schools in Alberta. However, school authorities will have the flexibility in offering a specially designed program with the Filipino language course that will cater best to their community.

The Filipino community in Alberta feels pride in knowing that their province clearly respect and support of the government towards a culture’s diversity and heritage. More and more second generation to third generation Filipinos will now be able to take advantage of learning about their roots and their parents native tongue in school.

This is great news for Filipinos across Canada because this can be the start of a nationwide implementation. Will you enroll your kid in the new curriculum next year?

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Richard coming to Canada

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Arci Muñoz brought the heat in the 2017 Annual Filipino Festivals in Canada. This summer, it has been made official that the kapamilya actor will grace the festivities in Canada.

As for the Winnipeg festivities, the 7th Annual Manitoba Filipino Street Festival has a new venue! After two consecutive years of having it in Downtown, Winnipeg, the Festival is moving to the Maples, the heart of the Filipino Community in Winnipeg. The Festival this year is expected to be more packed with fun and exciting events and activities. It will be a 2-day celebration which will be called “Samu’t Saring Saya! A Manitoba Filipino Gathering.” The vast area of the multiplex, including both the hockey arena and community centre, will be the place to be this summer for the biggest Filipino Fiesta in Manitoba.

The special guest this year is no other than the Richard Gutierrez also known as Supremo. The kapamilya actor is known for his most recent stint as the La Luna Sangre character, Supremo. Anyone wants to get bitten? Just kidding!
Oh right! Did we mention that he will be visiting Canada wherein 2 Jollibee stores built? Yes, he will be in Winnipeg! Joining Richard Gutierrez will be Eric Nicolas, who is known from the kapamilya show “Your Face Sounds Familiar.”
Mark your calendars! 2018 Manitoba Filipino Street Festival is on June 9th at the Maples Multiplex and grounds.

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PM Trudeau Celebrates Filipino Heritage Month With a Visit to Pinoy Eatery in Canada

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Filipino Heritage Month is an annual celebration of the Filipino culture in Canada. This happens in the month of June when Filipinos from coast to coast shares the rich Filipino culture to the Canadians.
It was first celebrated in the city of Toronto last year. This year, it is celebrated on the federal level for the first time thanks to the motion submitted by Salma Zahid, Member of Parliament for Scarborough Centre.
The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showed his support to the celebration earlier this month by visiting the Pinoy eatery in Scarborough, FV Foods. He was of course accompanied by Zahid.
 “It’s Filipino Heritage Month and Prime Minister Trudeau wanted some authentic Filipino food so I took him to FV Foods right here in Scarborough Center,” Zahid said on a Facebook post.

Trudeau also posted photos on Facebook from his visit. He was seen lining up canteen-style and socializing with Filipinos who just finished their boodle fight.

It is truly an amazing time to be a Filipino in Canada. The pride and sense of community can be truly felt thousands of miles away from the homeland.

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#PinoyPride: Pinoy Achieves the Highest Academic Distinction in University of Ottawa

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Joyce Tamayo, from Victorias City, Negros Occidental, together with her husband, Eric Tamayo was brimming with pride as she watches their son receive his diploma during the convocation ceremonies of the University of Ottawa (uOttawa) Faculty of Sciences in the Canadian Capital on June 18, 2019.

Gerlino Dominic Furbeyre Tamayo (Earl) finished his 4-year Honours Bachelor of Science Program in Biomedical Science with the highest academic honors and distinction in graduating summa cum laude from the world’s largest English-French bilingual university and regarded as among the top ranked schools in Canada acclaimed for its innovative and dynamic research and health science program.

Earl, 22 years old, was consistently on the Dean’s List in all his four years in the course, and an Ontario scholar all throughout. He associates his achievements to balancing academic excellence with civic and extra-curricular work.

Aside from studying hard he has also devoted his time volunteering in various community projects and civic activities in Ottawa and among the Filipino community in the city. In fact, he was active in student outreach movements and served as president of the Filipino Students Association of Ottawa (FILSAuO).

Philippine Ambassador to Canada Petronila Garcia, who hails from Isabela, Negros Occidental, was delighted for Earl and his parents. She conveyed her good wishes and congratulations to Earl for his achievement, hoping that his example will serve as an inspiration and role model to the young generation of Filipinos.

Dr. Ruby de Guzman Formoso, an eminent figure in the Filipino community in Ottawa, who is a mentor to Earl, was amazed at how Earl is filled with compassion, leadership, and a desire to serve. She emphasized the importance of young Filipinos embracing their heritage in staying grounded.

Mrs. Nora Arriola, president of the of the Philippine Independence Day Committee of Ottawa Valley (PICOV), commended Earl’s accomplishments and has related it to being consistent with the hallmarks of a friendly, courteous, diligent and caring Filipino

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