Last Sunday afternoon, March 3, the Ateneo Alumni Association of BC (AAABC), whose members remain committed to being “Men and Women for Others”, held its first outreach seminar at Collingwood Community Centre. The seminar was aimed at helping newly landed immigrants, caregivers, contract workers and open permit holders to have more access to information.
Answering his own question of why the program was launched, Ian Choa, the current AAABC President simply said: “We want to pay it forward.” In his opening remarks, he recalled how he and his wife, Lea, were helped by fellow Filipinos get settled down when they first arrived in Canada. Choa mentioned that the program was conceptualized in collaboration with the Filipino-Chinese Association of BC, the Minister of State for Multiculturalism, Hon. Harry Bloy, the Minister of Social Development Hon. Stephanie Cadeaux , Ashton College and Investors Group, the program’s Gold Sponsor and Silver Investors, respectively.
Rene Vicencio, master of ceremonies outlined the many topics that attendees could benefit from during the three-hour program.
Options While in Canada
The Keynote Speaker, Francis Ng, introduced by Atenean Francis Manalo, is a certified Canadian immigration consultant for over 30 years. Ng was also a graduate of Harvard University and an instructor at Ashton College. He discussed the options for permanent residency under various categories such as the temporary worker, visitor, live-in caregiver, provincial nominee and family sponsorship programs. He also pointed out that a speedy option for parents and grandparents to come to Canada is through the supervisa which is a part of the government’s family reunification program. This requires the sponsor to meet the low income cut-off (LICO), secure medical insurance for the parent or grandparent for a full year and for every entry, among others, to qualify for a 10-year multiple entry supervisa. He also mentioned that foreign students may also apply for a student permit to take up two full years of post-secondary education, after which they are eligible for a 3 year-open permit and thereafter could apply to become a permanent resident. Ng cautioned that those with temporary permits or status who intend to file for change of status or extension of permit to do so while their permit or visa has not yet expired in order that they will not be out of status.
Marco Goco of Investors Group discussed how financial planning affects the quality of life. He noted that a number of Filipinos working in Canada end up with no savings and no funds for emergency situations as they were sending their money to the Philippines. He briefly tackled what their company considered an investor’s cornerstone philosophy and the pillars of financial planning to gain financial independence: the power of compound growth and finding hidden money.
Canadian Educational System
Joy Jose, from the Vancouver School Board spoke of how the Canadian public educational system in the primary and secondary levels differ from the Philippine system. She said that new students who come to Vancouver undergo central screening and are placed on grade levels in accordance with their age; that the additional 2 years in high school in Canada and the age-based placement to primary and secondary schools compound the differences between the Canadian and Philippine school system. She also pointed out that grade 12 students in Canada must take the provincial exams, render volunteer work, engage in at least 150 minutes of physical activities and develop a career life portfolio; that the pathways to education after high school could be either thru pursuit of a university degree, going to community college for degree programs or even attending Adult Education classes which are given free.
Margie Trinidad talked about the courses and programs of general interests offered at the Continuing Education Division of the Vancouver School Board for kids from 5 years old and adults up to 95; that school children could take summer courses instead of taking them during the regular school term and that diploma and certificate programs are also offered.
Margie Ocaya, a human resource professional stressed the importance of attitude and the proper frame of mind in adjusting to making it well in a Canadian workplace. She summed it up in a philosophy embodied in the acronym O’DREAM, read backwards. Thus: M- mind set; A-ask for help; E-expand your network, R – reality check (getting your professional credentials assessed, looking into the financial, psychological, emotional and financial aspects of your life), D- Dream big and O-opportunity is how you should look at a situation instead of it being a problem.
Pete Capitulo, representative of the Riverside Mortgage Group shared information on what home buyers should know about mortgage, how to qualify for a mortgage loan, credit score, payment terms and the role of the Canadian Home Mortgage Corporation.
Philippine Consulate Services
Deputy Consul General Hon. Mandap, who graced the occasion together with Consul General Hon. Joey Ampeso and Labour Attache Bernie Julve, head of the Philippine Overseas Labour Office, discussed the various services available at the Philippine Consulate. He said that other than passport and visa issuances, their office also does notarials, authentication of documents, and assistance to Filipino nationals in distress situations to enable them to get in touch with their families. As well, he mentioned about the dual citizenship law as options for former Filipino nationals to be restored to the rights of Filipino citizenship. He also mentioned that Filipinos my register for absentee voting for Philippine national elections.
Following AAABC Vice-President Mike Calingo’s closing remarks, the attendees had opportunities to field questions to, and converse with the speakers during the open forum. The well-attended seminar ended at 8:00 pm with not a few wishing that there will be more informative seminars like this one.