Lofty ideals: the world is full of them. Indeed, there is no shortage of noble ambitions, larger-than-life aspirations, and admirable intentions. What the world needs more of, however, are the DOERS of these ideals. Those who will turn the “lofty” into “reality.”
These are the movers and shakers; the visionaries, who act on what they see in their mind’s eye and believe at the very core of their being; to benefit not just themselves, but the human race of which they are a part.
Filipino-Canadian Paulina Corpuz, candidate for School Trustee of Ward 12 in the Toronto Catholic District School Board, is out to transform her pie-in-the sky ideals into everyday possibilities.
In her own words
“I am Catholic, a mother, a social justice advocate and a community servant,” Paulina describes the hierarchy of her make-up in one succinct sentence.
“Happily married to an accountant, Ben Corpuz, and blessed with 3 children, aged 22, 16 & 12,” she adds.
Paulina, an Ibanag lass originally from the province of Isabela, was educated in Catholic elementary and secondary schools and studied Psychology at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Her early days in Canada were no different from those of countless immigrants before and after her: she had to struggle some.
“I came to Canada, with my 11 month daughter, to be reunited with my husband, Ben. Like all new immigrants, my education and experience was not recognized and it was a struggle to find work, when I landed in 1993 there was economic recession. There was a high rate of unemployment as companies were restructuring and downsizing. The Ontario provincial government cut funding for community organizations and there were a lot of social workers and community service workers looking for work. My chance of landing a job comparable to the work I was doing in the Philippines was nil,” she recounted.
The stalwart idealist, however, did not give up. She recalls weekends spent trekking to the public library, one-year-old daughter in tow, “to use the computer and read books about job searching and résumé-writing. She shares that she volunteered her time at a charity organization, before eventually finding employment in a similar line of work.
“I realized that only by volunteering and upgrading my education can I increase my chances of getting a job. From there, I was promoted to administrative assistant, project coordinator, senior coordinator, business analyst, and online trainer. Now I am an independent business development consultant.”
It takes a community
We have all heard the adage: “It takes a community to raise a child.” Upon these words, Paulina is probably willing to bet her bottom dollar. After all, she has proven this out in her own life; especially during those lean times of struggling to find a job.
“I was fortunate to have my husband and my extended family’s support in my struggle to find work. The support of my extended family in raising my children helped Ben and I to focus on upgrading our education to be successful in our careers and allowed my children to grow up knowing their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins,” she said.
This concept, though not foreign amongst Filipinos, is seemingly lost in more Westernized cultures. To further this, should she be elected as trustee, Paulina aspires to: “Reach out to parents, inspire and engage them for a meaningful participation in Catholic education; ensure that the tools and resources necessary are provided in a learning environment that encourages children to discern, respect and engage in socially responsible behaviours; and work together to ensure an education that nurtures our Catholic Christian faith, reflects our Catholic Social Teachings and supports academic excellence of our children.”
A lasting legacy
Perhaps one of the cornerstones of Paulina’s idealism is education, and the value thereof. She acknowledges that she and her husband chose to move to Canada in the hopes of providing a brighter future – education included – for their children.
“As parents we want the best for our children and for them to succeed in whatever field they chose in their journey. To do that, we must ensure that they are well-equipped, having the knowledge, skills and critical discernment necessary for their success,” she shared.
In this vein, she hopes “to inspire mothers and parents from visible minority communities to participate and get involved in their children’s education, be it public or separate school board.”
“Parents’ engagement becomes critical in ensuring that schools are safe, healthy and positive environment of learning. In their formative years, the school is our children’s second home. They spend, at least, seven hours every day, five days a week for nearly 10 months in a year in school,” she pointed out.
Furthermore, Paulina is a stalwart champion of – in specific – the Catholic system of education; which she believes is a lasting and important legacy for parents to leave their children, as well as a vital tool for changing the world.
Serving hands and a giving heart
Fueled by her beliefs and driven by a desire for change, Paulina is passionate about the office of School Trustee. It is her deep desire to “to offer a mother’s voice from a diverse community, bring a fresh perspective and enrich the capability of the governing Board in making decisions that will take into consideration the needs of all its constituents in Toronto.”
Make no mistake; this young mother is no newcomer to the arena of community service. Driven ever-onward by her vision, Paulina has always had hands to serve others, and a heart large enough for it. After all, anyone who has ever given themselves over towards the service of others knows how challenging of a job this can be.
At the age of fifteen, she was already volunteering her time as a student catechist, doing evangelical work (such as preparing children for their first sacraments of penance and communion) in public schools in her hometown in the Philippines. She also served in the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-Luzon Secretariat of Social Action (Caritas NASSA) supporting Diocesan Social Action Centres in project implementation, relief operations and rehabilitation programs.
She has likewise put her hand to the plow of Toronto’s non-profit sector, labouring for the likes of the Philippine Advancement through Arts and Culture (PATAC) – for which she is the Founding President – an organization helping children victims of violence.
Her community work extends to staunch support of organizations such as the Philippine Independence Day Council, Filipino Canadian Parents Association in Catholic Education, Migrante, and the University of the Philippines Alumni Association – Toronto.
Brains, to boot
A self-professed lifelong learner, Paulina most definitely has the brains to back-up the beliefs. In Canada, she earned her professional certificates in Business Analysis and Change Management, certificates in Internet Marketing, E-business and Web Marketing, Life Skills Coaching, and a certificate in Non-Profit Sector Management offered by the Centre of Philanthropy through Ryerson University.
Not one to rest on her laurels, she seeks to continuously add to her stock of knowledge and skills, especially in the areas of business, accounting and information management.
By way of a parting message, Paulina says: “I am helping Filipinos achieve their educational goals and acquiring an education that will teach them critical discernment, and instil in them moral values as they grow in God’s love. As TRUSTEE, I am committed to WORK FOR YOU and WITH YOU.”
At the intersection of ideals and reality; that point at which the intangible is made known – that is where you will find Paulina Corpuz.