It’s all in her name.
If you look it up, her name in Latin means “one’s homeland” or “one’s own country.” Some translations even refer to her name as “heaven.”
Indeed, Patria Bercasio Pascal – or simply ‘Patty’ to friends and family – never forgot her homeland and continues to live each day to the fullest in celebration of her Filipino heritage.
Patty refers to herself as a ‘pioneer’ in her family being the first one from their clan to move to Canada.
Being the eldest of 11 children, Patty had the innate longing to help her family in whatever way she can. She was working as a bilingual stenographer back in the Philippines in the 1970’s, but she realized that her income combined with her father’s salary was not enough to keep their family afloat.
So in January 1974, she moved to Canada in search for a better opportunity. She landed in Winnipeg, Manitoba as a permanent resident. She can still recall her first few years in Manitoba.
“To be a ‘pioneer’ in a family is daunting to anyone,” she shared.
“Due to my credentials from back home and my desire to fulfill my goals on behalf of the family, I was able to cope with difficulties commonly experienced by new immigrants in a new land.”
Patty recalled the harsh winters of Winnipeg, which seem to intensify her longing for family.
“[I had] no family members or friends to provide morale support,” she pointed out. “My foremost goal was to sponsor all my family members to Canada, finish my degree, get married, and have one child only (so I could closely monitor his formative years, studies and eventual career), teach English in a non-English speaking country, take supplementary programs in some institutions, volunteer in the community, and write my memoirs in that order.”
And how’s Patty doing now, 31 years later?
“I fulfilled all of these goals so far.”
Life in the Great White North
“The fact that one of the two languages is English helps immensely,” Patty said.
With her credentials and her experience, she was thankful for the opportunities she encountered in Canada.
“It is a very diverse country, and opportunities for advancement are easy to obtain for those who are willing to work hard,” she said.
However, there’s still some things that pose a big challenge for Patty.
“The weather is both extremes too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer in some places,” she said.
She also pointed other challenges she encountered, “Discrimination and racism can happen in the workplace, if we don’t fight for our rights.”
Despite the wonderful opportunities in Canada enabling her to provide for her family, Patty admits that she still misses a lot of things about the Philippines.
“[I miss] Filipino hospitality, fiestas, scenic spots,” she listed.
She was also quick to point out that she misses several tropical fares like fruits, “especially mangoes and caimito (star apple).”
Having been in Canada for over 30 years, she has certainly grown accustomed to the country’s culture. But Patty says she still tries to incorporate her Filipino heritage in her day to day life.
Today, she works for the Richmond School District as a Cultural Interpreter and Settlement Worker in Schools. She also translates school documents from English to Filipino.
“I manage a pool of volunteer interpreters and translators from different cultures,” she explained.
“[We] help parents who are new to the community understand the Canadian school system through orientation meetings and referral sessions… We bridge homeschool communication and provide referrals to the services as required. Through workshops, school meetings and symposiums, I come to understand their immediate concerns, i.e., language barriers, acculturation, separation and reunification, to name only a few,” she said.
She also taps on her Pinoy side to interact with the community.
“I touch on value systems, Filipino customs and traditions, and interpersonal relationships. There are a number of Filipino families in our community, and during public events, we reminisce our good times back home in between bites of authentic Filipino food.”
Through her hectic schedule, Patty finds fulfillment in her tasks.
“The most fulfilling part of my job is honouring these volunteer interpreters by coordinating an Appreciation Party to thank them for their invaluable help in our schools as interpreters/translators,” she said.
“Bridging communication gap and understanding cultural differences are the key to my job satisfaction,” she added.
Working closely with children and immigrants, Patty has developed an advocacy against bullying.
She even wrote a short story/brochure for their anti-bullying campaign called “Tom’s Secret.”
“I have a number of published articles dealing with anti-bullying in schools, community, and the workplace,” she said.
“Currently, I am working on an educational magazine (in comic form) which will be launched early next year… It is a literary project that deals with the common problem most people experience these days,” she added.
Patty has also published her memoir entitled ” My Journey: an Immigrant’s Story of Survival,” which serves as one of her platforms when conducting seminars.
She’s also a passionate advocate for cultural diversity, to which she has been recognized numerous times for her efforts in promoting multiculturalism.
In 2002, she was given the “Community Youth Volunteer Honourable Mention” in 2002 by the Surrey- Delta Leader. In 2014, the Minister of Multiculturalism Teresa Wat presented her the “Provincial Nesika Awards.” This year, she was awarded the
Certificate of Nomination as “Champion of Diversity” in the 12th Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards in Abbotsford.
A Piece of Advice from a ‘Survivor ’
When asked about what piece of advice she could share with new Filipino immigrants in
Canada, Patty shared, “There isn’t any individual I know that hasn’t experienced disappointments and failures before fulfilling his/her goals.”
She concluded, “Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. We just have to be ready to cope with any hurdles as we tread on the path of success.”
– – – – – –
Do you know an outstanding member of the Filipino-Canadian community whose story deserves to be told? Nominate the next Filipino-Canadian In Focus. Click here.