Philanthropist, wife, mother, friend, Filipina.
Rosemer Enverga is all that and so much more. As the wife of Senator Tobias Enverga Jr. and mom to their daughters, she continues to serve the Filipino community in Canada at the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation, which her husband founded in 2008 – roughly 25 years after moving to Canada.
A Relationship that Stood the Test
Rosemer moved to Canada four months after marrying Sen. Tobias, whom she lovingly calls “Jun.” Their relationship stood the test of time and proved that long-distance relationships work.
“At that time, when Tobias Enverga, Jr. (now a Senator in Canada) was my boyfriend (I fondly call him, Jun), he left for Canada to seek adventure and greener pasture, so to speak, leaving me behind in the meantime.
After a year and having found some economic stability in this country – by accepting an entry level position with one of the chartered banks in Canada, Jun went back to the Philippines to marry me. We married in January 1983. By April of that year, I came and joined him here.”
In a few years time after migrating to Canada as a happily married woman, she was promoted to become a team leader at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. She recalled managing over 90 people at that time.
A Day in “Greener Pastures”
She delightfully recalled her first few months living on the other side of the world.
“First challenge was the climate,” she said. “Coming from a tropical country, like the Philippines, Canadian winters were very harsh for a new immigrant.”
Other than battling with environmental conditions she never had the chance to prepare for, she had to tackle other changes after moving to Canada: cultural differences and missing home.
“[I had to adjust] to the culture. Homesickness was also an issue. Coming to Canada was the first time that I had been away from my family and friends in the Philippines.”
As time went by, she got used to the lifestyle and environment she now considers her second home. With a growing family of her own, she was able to do more than cope up with this new place – she started making a difference.
An Appointment to Remember
“Being the wife of a Senator can be very demanding, but interesting.” she beams.
Since Sen. Tobias’ appointment in 2012 as a senator, a lot of things have changed in the Enverga household.
“This role now comes with new expectations and responsibilities, not just our kababayans in Toronto, but now all over Canada. A major change was the traveling involved between Toronto and Ottawa for the Senator, resulting to greater responsibilities to organize and attend events in Toronto. My daughters are also involved with the community as well and are adjusting well to this change.”
With all the changes going on in and around their household, the senator’s wife and their family experienced disappointments as well in the form of “crab mentality.” She recalled how much people tend to “dwell on the negative when someone steps up in the ladder of life.”
Making a Difference
“Giving back to our community were always important to us. This was because we believed that we are so blessed here in Canada that we should share our blessings.”
This strong conviction gave birth to the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation in 2008. Sharing the same passion for community enrichment, husband and wife worked to help their less fortunate kababayans by organizing events for the Filipino community in Canada.
“The “Pinoy Fiesta & Trade show sa Toronto” and the Pageants take a lot of work to organize and prepare. Some of the difficulties we faced include managing the team to organize these events. But as the saying goes, difficulties come with their own rewards, too. For example, it is gratifying to see Pinoys in the country unite and work together for the fruition of these events, and on the pageants, the confidence that is instilled in our young ladies. As you know, by nature Filipinos are coy. Best of all, we do all these aimed at helping our poor kababayans, while having fun.”
Other than actively participating in PCCF events in Canada, they also support various charitable institutions back home in the Philippines. She considers the opportunity of helping Filipinos as a huge privilege.
“The charities I support include ANCOP (acronym for “Answering the Cry of the Poor), Kapuso Foundation, Archdiocesan Filipino Catholic Missions (AFCM) and victims of calamities. (More info can be found on www.philippinecanadianfoundation.com/beneficiaries).
You see, long before Jun became a Senator, at the bottom of all his email messages he sends out was a Japanese proverb, stating, ‘Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare’; and I share that saying with him.”
Mrs. Enverga believes that if someone is blessed beyond their means by the grace of God, it is impossible to live each day without compassion for the poor. With this, she shared a quotations from poet and educator Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service.”
When asked about their future plans for the charities they support, she said she would like to extend their “support to special needs children in the Philippines.” Also in the works is a scholarship grant for one of the deserving and poor students of St. Scholastica College of Manila, her Alma mater.
She dreams of expanding their influence in order to help more people in the Philippines and Canada.
On being an Inspiration
“Stay [focused] on their goals; persevere.”
Making a difference is not easy, but it’s worth every struggle.
“The challenges they may face will enable them to work harder and achieve greater things. As I mentioned earlier, ‘difficulties come with their own rewards’.”
The Philippine Canadian Inquirer turns its focus on Filipino-Canadian entrepreneurs, top honchos, connectors, community leaders and movers and shakers who are willing to mentor fellow Filipinos in a series of entrepreneurship workshops to culminate in “The Philippine Canadian Inquirer” Appreciation and Awards Night and Gala. If you have someone in mind who fits the bill, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.