Filipino-Canadian in Focus: Alberto Rodil

By , on February 26, 2014


Alberto Rodil is no stranger to struggle and sacrifice.

Thankfully, however, his sacrifices have paid off, and he now reaps the fruits of very difficult labour. Beyond that, he finds himself in a position to share the fruits of his labour; in the service of others who – like he once was – are well-acquainted with struggle and sacrifice.

A hard knock-life

A Filipino immigrant to Canada, Rodil put his hand to the Canadian plow, working varied survival jobs for the first five years within moving to the country. Like many others before him, all Rodil wanted was a better life for his family, and better opportunities for his children. As such – as any loving and responsible husband and father would – he did whatever it took to provide for his family.

Also like many others before him, his dreams for his life were far different from mere survival.

Realizing that these dreams would not come to pass if he got stuck in the vicious cycle of working to simply survive, Rodil decided to go back to school. He attended George Brown College in Toronto, where his persistence and diligence earned for him a degree in the school’s Social Service Worker Program. Despite having to juggle his duties as student, father and provider, he managed to not only finish his studies, but also graduate with honours.

Mind you, it was far from easy.

Throughout the two–year period of his full-time study, he worked nights, as a cleaner at the Belmont House (a retirement home for seniors). Early mornings before school were spent studying. Plus of course, time devoted to his obligations as head of the home. With all he had to juggle, relaxation was a commodity with a ridiculously high price tag, and sleep became a luxury enjoyed for a scant 2-3 hours daily.

Still, Rodil pressed on.

On a new path

Shortly after his second year working at Belmont, Rodil decided to venture out onto a different career path; one that he mapped out and strategized based more on his life’s dreams, and less on the instinct for survival.

Much of his work on this path was founded on volunteerism and his genuine desire to help fellow-immigrants; and although the benefits to others were innumerable, it was to be an investment into his own life, as well.

Rodil actively volunteered for eleven non-profit organizations of his choice, working nine-to-five, and sometimes into the night, as often as six or seven days a week.

Finally, a breakthrough.

In December 10, 2010, he was employed full-time as a Settlement Worker at the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office in East York, Toronto. He was likewise given the designation of Settlement Worker for Seniors & Support Settlement Worker for Live-In Caregivers. He fulfilled his duties with an eagerness and excellence that gave credence to his commitment to the organization & to the community.

The extra mile

With his newfound career and life course, skills acquired from countless hours spent on volunteer work, as well as knowledge gained from his collegiate studies, Rodil found himself in a position to be of great help to others. As such, he chose to provide free assistance to hundreds of newcomer immigrants, helping them get jobs in the Toronto area by assisting them in putting together a good resume, aiding them in the job search, and ultimately connecting them with local employers.

Rodil’s exemplary work for the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office (TNO) included service to the multicultural senior citizens of East York, Don Mills, Flemingdon, & St. Jamestown communities; all part of the agency’s extension offices.

But he went the extra mile, beyond what was expected of him. Rodil also offered his services to more than 600 Live-In Caregiver clients of the organization.

Care for Caregivers

Going the extra mile meant sometimes handling complicated cases of Live-In Caregivers. As Support Settlement Worker for Live-In Caregivers, Rodil face a variety of challenging situations; from stories of abuse & harassment by employers, to unpaid overtime, privacy issues, health issues, loss of status, even finding a new employer.

Rodil, because of his care for his caregiver clients, has thus far served, supported and helped over 600 caregivers, who are now members of the TNO Caregivers in Transition Program. He helps the members of the program understand the intricacies of the immigration process, and assists them with their varied needs for permits, applications, and papers – tasks which can be quite daunting for the new immigrant.

Perhaps among his more significant efforts was the contribution he made towards the repatriation of Filipino nanny Girlie Dioquino’s body from Canada to the Philippines in May 2012. Dioquino, who succumbed to a quick but painful battle with lung cancer,had no life insurance and no assets. While she was battling the disease, she expressed her desire to either return home, or send for her parents to be with her in Canada.

Neither came to pass, due to the aggressiveness of the cancer. Dioquino’s final request before her death was to have her body repatriated to the Philippines. Not being a registered member of the Philippine Overseas Workers Welfare Association, unfortunately, she was not entitled to repatriation benefits, the cost of which is pegged at $6,000-$8,000. Rodis’efforts to initiate a fund raising drive for Dioquino’s repatriation enabled Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office to give the nanny some dignity in her passing. This, despite the fact that fundraising for a client was really “not a part” of Rodil’s job at the agency. It was, however a part of his job as a human being to respond to the plight and crisis of fellow-humanity.

Awards and Accolades

For all his tireless efforts, Rodil has received awards and accolades. And rightfully so.

He was a recipient of the Thorncliffe agency’s Dedication & Leadership Award, and was also nominated in 2012 for the prestigious United Way Bhayana Family Foundation Award in the Dedication Category. The Selection Committee acknowledged his drive and perseverance in his field, and gave him the award. Out of more than a hundred likewise deserving & competent nominees from different non-profit organizations in the General Toronto Area, Rodil was the one who was deemed most dedicated.

Beyond these, his accomplishments in Canada serve to inspire other immigrants to work harder, sacrifice, & strive to become successful.

Alberto Rodil has become an icon of change and hope for thousands of newcomers to Canada – people he is proud to call not only his clients and country folk, but also his friends. And therein lies his true reward.

Rodil is nominated for Canada’s Top 25 Immigrants of 2014 award.
Rodil is nominated for Canada’s Top 25 Immigrants of 2014 award.