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Showing posts with label In Canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label In Canada. Show all posts

21 June 2017

We Are Applying for Our Citizenship this November 2017 According to Bill C-6

The new Citizenship Act received Royal Assent on June 19, 2017.  Amendments to the Citizenship Act includes changes of the residency requirement.

Before - A permanent resident (PR) who wants to apply for a Canadian Citizenship needs to satisfy the residency requirement of 4 out of 6 years.  That means, the applicant needs to be in Canada for a total of 4 years within a period of 6 years.

On Fall 2017 - The changes in the Citizenship Act includes the reduction of time a permanent resident must be physically present in Canada to three out of five years before applying for citizenship.

Applying for Citizenship on November 
We were expecting to apply for citizenship on our 4th year in Canada.  Fortunately, this good news from the government gave us hopes on having it earlier *fingers crossed*.

If no changes on the date of the effectivity, we will be eligible to apply on November 2017. Yay!
There surely be a lot of applicants for citizenship so we have to prepare our documents ahead.

Some of the requirements are available on hand.  There will be no IELTS for both of us because of our credentials. To apply for the citizenship, we need a proof of language proficiency.

At least one of these documents.
1. Results of an accepted third-party test at the equivalent of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB/NCLC) / Niveaux de comp├ętence linguistique canadiens 
2. Proof of completion of a secondary or post-secondary program conducted in French or English, either in Canada or abroad 
3. Proof of achieving Canadian Language Benchmark/Niveaux de comp├ętence linguistique canadiens (CLB/NCLC)

We have the #2 proof, which is the proof of completion of post-secondary program abroad.  That means, no more exams on English proficiency for me and my wife. Another Yay!

But, there is one test that we need to write. It's the knowledge test on how well we know about Canada.  It's for applicants 18-54 years old.

Preparation for Citizenship Application 2017
The important things that we need to prepare, aside from the tests and documents above, are the fees and the police clearance.

For the fees, we have to prepare a total of C$1, 460 based on the existing law.  The breakdown is $630 for me + $630 for my wife and $100 for each child, and that's $200 for the two.  These are the fees as of this writing, I'm not sure if they will change it in our favour.

On the other hand, it's required for applicant to submit a police clearance if we stayed more than 183 days outside Canada. If they will not change the number of years prior to application, I need to submit a police clearance from Singapore and my wife from Philippines.

This is not an easy thing to do, we need to contact friends for assistance in both countries.  We'll cross the bridge when we get there.

Updates on our Citizenship Application
I made a membership site for Me Moving To Canada (MM2C Community) and readers need to register to gain access to it.

In there, I'll be posting every step in getting our citizenship.  That includes photos and I'm thinking of videos too...let's see.

If you want to become a member of MM2C Community, go and register to this website.  Click it!

Me Moving To Canada MM2C Community

MM2C in Canada
Join the MM2C Community and have these benefits:
  • MM2C Subscription
  • More Editable Sample Documents (Resources)
  • Access to Forums and meet fellow members online
  • Blogs
  • Update on our Citizenship

28 April 2016

MM2C Cherry Blossoms MEET-UP Toronto 2016

On April 09, I organized a meet-up, which I named "MM2C Spring Meet-up 2016".  The meet-up started at 3:00pm and ended at 7pm in a cafe located in Scarborough.  We met with 5 families, consisting of 10 adults and 6 children.

We were engaged in a warm conversation exchanging  experiences and tips with the new immigrants, who were also excited to reach new friends in Canada.

We had photos during that event and will be shared to those who attended. It will be posted in the exclusive MM2C Facebook page.

What's Next?
Due to the success of the Spring Meet-up, I am now organizing a new meet-up and it will be during the Cherry Blossoms season.

Cherry Blossoms (Sakura), for those who don't know, is when the Japanese cherry tree produces a lot of flowers during the spring season.  The view of pinkish colored flowers is spectacular, which you wouldn't want to miss.

If you are interested in joining us help support our new immigrants and our MM2C group while viewing the beautiful cherry blossoms, please register here for more details of the event. 

We can share our experiences, moral support, and important immigration information that can help us settle in Canada smoothly.

Please click the link or the banner below and it'll bring you to the Google form registration page. 


Let's have some FUN!

20 January 2016

Do We Need To Preserve Our Native Language in Canada?

TOM enjoying the snow.

Every time I meet fellow immigrants, usually Filipinos, with kids who doesn't speak and understand Filipino (Tagalog) language,  I always ask myself, WHY?

It's understandable if one parent is not a Filipino.  But if both parents are Filipino and their kids don't speak and understand the native tongue, it's surprising!

I even have friends back in the Philippines who have English-speaking kids who don't understand and speak Tagalog. Well, it's their way of parenting.

What's the Issue if Kids Can't Speak the Native Tongue?
I can't help but ask some parents that have children who don't speak Filipino anymore.  A father told me that he regret having their kids speak English at home.  After four months of not speaking Filipino, their children doesn't speak and understand the native language anymore.

Another father said that he was encouraged by the teacher to always speak English at home for the reason that the child can easily cope up in school.

These fathers were immigrants 5 and 10 years ago. What I thought was that the teachers haven't detected the problem at that time yet.

All Kids Can Be Multilingual
Based on my personal experience, I can speak three languages.  One is the dialect from my province, the other two are Tagalog and English.

If I was not trained by my sister to speak our dialect at home while we were in Manila, I could have lost it forever.

I can tell that kids can be multilingual because all my classmates and schoolmates in Visayas region, can speak three languages (Bisaya, Tagalog, and English).

The reason why they can speak Tagalog while they were in Visayas region was because their parents talk to them in Tagalog at home.  Not only Tagalog, but some can speak Ilonggo.  That sometimes can be in 4 languages.

When I moved to Manila, I found friends that can still speak their dialects fluently because of the same reason.

That is why I believe that kids can be multilingual in any place.

Do We Really Need to Preserve the Native Language in Canada? 
Canada has racially diverse population.  For us, Filipinos, we gather together when there are celebrations like Christmas, birthdays, and other special occasions.

It is in this moment that kids gather together and play while parents discuss current events and gossips in their native tongue.

Kids who don't understand the Filipino language can not converse with the oldies.

When families travel back to the Philippines on a vacation and have a chance to meet their relatives (young and old), their children can't communicate well with their friends and cousins.

When we were at a Walmart in Toronto, a Filipino lady came to me and said, "I was surprised to hear your son spoke Tagalog, it's pretty rare nowadays."

What Our Kid's Teacher Say About It?
We were worried about our 3-year old son that he can't cope up with school because of the language barrier.  In the Philippines, we talked to him in Tagalog and decided to do the same here in Canada.

When he started going to school, we asked his teacher about how to train him to speak English at home. His teacher gave us a surprising advice...

She told us to continue what we're doing - talk to him in the native tongue.  He will develop his language skills through exposure with other kids of his age by going to the school, library, playground, and the likes. Eventually, our TOM will cope up with the language problem.

If that's the case, we were right all along.

Today, even if it's not perfect, TOM can now speak basic English with his friends and classmates.  He got used to speaking Tagalog at home and English in school.  He knows how to change the setting well.  We found it cute when we hear him speak like Canadians do, but without the "Eh!" for now.

By the way, his school has Italian and French lessons at his early age. Now, he leads the prayer before meal in Italian :)

We still talk to him in Tagalog, preserving our Filipino Language.

What do you think?  Please leave a comment below.

30 September 2015

How To Prepare For the University Education of our Children in Canada?

There's a list that I found in my Facebook wall, which states the Top 10 Most Expensive Colleges and Universities in Philippines.  I started browsing it and the top most expensive costs around US$9,435 or C$12,671 (P442,067) per year.

The chance of studying in these universities, when Mom & Dad is working with minimum wage is so thin.  Scholarship or having a student loan is possible though.  These were mostly built for elites.

I remembered the cost of my tuition was around PHP36,000 per year (C$1,000).  Luckily, my sister got me a scholarship plan when I was just 7 years old.  Although I had one, we still needed to pay PHP6,000 (C$200) for the miscellaneous fees, which was not covered by the scholarship plan.

You might think that it's a small amount of money, but for my sister, she worked really hard for that.

That's the reason why my monthly allowance was sacrificed.  Imagine having PHP500 (C$14) per month in your pocket.  It made me thrifty when it comes to food. Clothing and entertainment were not in the budget.

Honestly, writing this post made me realize how lucky we are as a family to be here in Canada.  Here's why...

Education in Canada
When we came here, we already had the idea that the government will give allowances for our children and their education is free, but we are not aware of the details behind it.

We enrolled our eldest son (10 years old) to a nearby school and submitted all the requirements. The school registrar encoded it to their system and that's it! He's enrolled already. No tests. No fuzz. No materials to buy as well. It's all FREE and provided by the school.

Since the education is free from Kindergarten till they reach Grade 12, it's also the time we need to save for their University education.

If you're living in a minimum wage, you and your spouse, this is possible with discipline and budgeting especially if your child/children is/are 10 years below. On the other hand, it can be difficult to those who have older kids. That means you have less TIME to save.

No worries, I'll teach you how to do it as we go further down.

What If We Don't Have Enough Time To Save?
Here in Ontario, the government will not leave our kids behind, they made sure that every kid can gain access to College.  They have an option for a student loan.  It is called the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). 

The program was mainly designed to give financial support to eligible students who don't have enough budget for College.  The program will pay the tuition fees, books, mandatory fees, living costs, and transportation.

In return, students will pay their OSAP debt to the government once they graduate and find their respective jobs.  It's a Study Now & Pay Later type of program.

Although it is helpful for students, they are bonded with DEBT once they graduate.  They have to pay the loaned amount 6 months after they cease to be a full-time student.

Based on my estimate, which I mentioned in my previous post, University Education in Toronto Canada, an Engineering degree student will pay a total estimate of C$80,000++ 6 months after graduation on the year 2023.  I made this computation to have a glimpse on my eldest son's tuition fee.

One of my friends told me that some students can't bear the burden of paying such amount, they ended up taking their own lives.  I hope it's not always the case and sure there are other reasons for such behavior.

What is RESP in Canada?
Most parents don't want their kids to be burdened by the DEBT from OSAP.  Although it's a great help for our special ones, but we want our kids to have a better future and debt free after graduation.

This way, they will earn money for themselves, save earlier for their future.  It is also advantageous for us parents, we will be complacent when that time comes.

A savings plan was designed by the government to help parents save for the post-secondary education of their kids.  This plan is called the Registered Education Savings Plan or RESP.

Parents can save a certain amount on the RESP every month and the Canadian Government will match-up an additional percentage amount on to it and some grants as well.   As it matures, it grows interest because it's invested.

This is how RESP works:
  1. A subscriber enters into an RESP contract with the promoter and names one or more beneficiaries under the plan.
  2. The subscriber makes contributions to the RESP. Government grants (if applicable) will be paid to the RESP. These grants can be the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG)Canada Learning Bond (CLB), or any designated provincial education savings program.
  3. The promoter of the RESP administers all amounts paid into the RESP. As long as the income stays in the RESP, it is not taxable. The promoter also makes sure payments from the RESP are made according to the terms of the RESP.
  4. The promoter can return the subscriber's contributions tax-free.
  5. The promoter can make payments to the beneficiary to help finance his or her post-secondary education.
  6. The promoter can make accumulated income payments. Source:

Where do I get the money for the RESP of my sons?
As promised, I'll teach you how to save and invest the money "I do not own" to my sons' RESP.

We received monthly allowances from the government that was covered by the CCTB and UCCB.  These were:

CCTB - Canada Child Tax Benefit
UCCB - Universal Child Care Benefit

The money that goes into our household were FREE from the government.  It will be used for our kids monthly expenses.  We can now save and invest in the RESP.

A quick summary...

Remember that the benefits were free money from the government. When I invest in the RESP, the government will again, add a percentage of it with some grants.

Isn't it great?  What do you think?

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24 June 2015

Immigrant Life As An Assembler In Toronto Canada

Winter Time: It was after a freezing rain. The top layer of snow becomes brittle and shiny.
Someone emailed me about how I got my job as an assembler, so I made a post about it on How I Got a Job in 5 Days!"

But for most of us, having a job is not the end of it all.  You have to work hard to earn for food, shelter, clothing and communication.

Waking up early or getting to work late at night is a daily routine.  This is what life is all about for a working immigrant, like us.  Although I'm not working late at night, but my wife does, so I know how hard it is to be in that situation.

Life in a Factory as an Assembler?
Back in Singapore, I worked from Mondays to Fridays at 9am to 6:30pm.  I am off on weekends and public holidays.  It was an ideal job and I enjoyed it a lot, especially the travels.

When we immigrated to Canada, things had changed. Although I was working from 7am to 4pm, my job was repetitive, which I'm not used to because I'm a multitasker.

To give you an idea, let me tell you about my life as an Assembler in Toronto, Canada.

At Home
The cellphone alarmed at exactly 5:15 am, my drowsy eyes opened up and was looking for the source of the sound.   Then I found it, I was so sleepy to remember that I placed it on top of the table last night.  I pressed the button to snooze and slept for another 15 minutes.  Then again, ALARM!!!

I got up and prepared our breakfast, then went to the bathroom, which I hated because it's too cold to take a bath early in the morning during winter.  Even though the heater was on, the first few drops or mist chills my skin and seeps into my bones.  I really HATED that feeling!

After that chilly bath experience, I dress up and wakes up SAM to let him prepare for school.  I heated up the frozen foods from the microwave, which my wife prepared the previous day, put the plates on the table and prepared our lunch boxes.

As my son was dressed up and ready to eat, I will then say goodbye to him and let him stay at the room where his mom and little brother were still sleeping.  As you all know that my wife works from 4:00pm to 11:00 pm and arrives home at around 11:30 pm.  So, I don't bother to wake her up early in the morning.

I wore my regular clothing for work because we don't have a uniform.  Got my keys and wallets and headed to the door. My son gave me a hug, which he does every day before I go out of the door.

Then I headed to the elevator, down to the building lobby and out to the main road.

But before I arrive at the bus stop, I'll prepare my GTA Pass so I can show it immediately to the bus driver.  Then I usually sit at the back and have a nap before the first stop, and at the second bus I'll sleep all the way until to the work site.

Our factory is 500 meters away from the stop so I have to walk through the thick snow and shiver with the cold wind blowing my body and face.
The aftermath of a thick snow that was cleared by a snow sweeper.
At the Factory
As I reach the warehouse door, I rushed in to punch in my time.  I always sigh for a relief from the cold air as the warehouse temperature heats up my frozen body.  While I'm inside a warm room, it feels so good as if I was just working in a tropical country.  Never mind looking at the glass window with the pile of thick snow.

As my body temperature adjusts, I'll quickly remove my jackets and layers and place it inside the locker, then headed directly to my worktable.

This is the path to my worktable.
"Good Morning Joe!"  I greeted loudly at the 65 year old assembler at the far end of the line.   Then at my back was Davey, who greets me with a "What's shaken?", another term for "What's up?".

"I'm Good! Had few adventures yesterday!", I replied while putting on my working gloves.

Job orders were already prepared on my table by the Supervisor.  I scan through the orders and take all the parts that are necessary to build up the product.  Then I laid it all on my table and clears everything up for a wider space to get ready for the assembly.

The assembling of parts will take an hour, one after the other, and usually consumes my time from 7:30 am to 10:20 am, on our first break. Fifteen minutes were all it takes to take a rest, have a conversation with colleagues then back to work for another job order.

Lunch time was at 1:00 pm to 1:20 pm.  This time, the usual belly laugh echoes the cafeteria, from a group of Portugees and Italians. It's all about their golf games on the previous weeks or how the thick snow covered their houses.  It's a never ending chain of stories from them.

Seeking for a moment of silence, we go in the factory again until 3:00 pm and have the second break for 15 minutes.  I usually eat bread during the break or a small box of fruit which I pre-washed and packed in the morning.

Then the go-home bell rings at 4:00 pm.  But, I stay late until 6:00 pm for an overtime, which gives me another $11/hr rate.

Before the clock ticks at 6:00 pm, I organize my table, prepare my things and heads to the locker where my 5-layer clothing were hidden.  There's another walk for 500 meters on a frozen road with knee-deep snow on the way.  If I can get on the bus on time, I'll shorten the agony of freezing.

Going Back Home
A walk for 500 meters was always like torture, for me. The cold air makes you shiver uncontrollably and it will take away all the heat inside your body.  Your fingers will freeze at around a minute of exposure to the cold air.  That is how a -20degC feels like.
Winter Nights: Taken after a day's work while walking to the bus stop.
If I missed the bus or it's late, another 15-minute agony awaits while the wind blows heavily inside the glass-covered bus stop.

When the bus arrives, I slowly get in and sit at the left side single seat.   I munch a bread on the way then take a nap until the first stop.

There were times that it was so exhaustive working in the factory, so I had slept so hard that I did not notice the first stop. So I have to transfer to another bus route to home.

Once I'm at our building, I will hurriedly head to my sister's apartment to get my two boys,  who were waiting for me.  At this time, it should be around 8:00 pm and I will be feeling hungry from work.

When my sister's door opens, two little guys rushes to me with arms wide open, shouting "DADDY!" and hugs me tightly with all the strength from their baby muscles.  At this point in time, the stress from the factory magically turns to happiness and body aches disappear in an instant.

Then the youngest will ask me to lift him up and kisses my cheeks with a smile, showing off his missing front teeth.  So, I bring my two boys to our apartment and help them dress up to go to sleep and teach my SAM on his assignments.

I was lucky to have a sister in Toronto, who temporarily took care of my kids while we're at work.

Then I prepare my dinner and wash the dishes and pans.  I have to sort all the toys that were scattered by my 3-year old with the help of his Kuya, prepare the milk for my 3-year-old and have them brush their teeth.

There will be a story-telling for both of them as they dropped their eyes to sleep.

If I have time, I'll watch few Television shows, do some blog posts, or sometimes I go to sleep with my little boys to get ready for another day in the factory.

That was my daily activity as an assembler in a factory.  It's a hard work at first, but as the time goes by, it becomes a routine and felt easier.

I was so optimist during that time cause I know that eventually a rainbow comes after the rain.

When I was assembling the parts, I wasn't thinking of the hardship.  It's the experience that I was interested in, which I needed to survive in Canada.

I was lucky to have a job in Canada and was proud to work in a factory.  But, because of my expertise on machines, I had to find a way to use it and contribute more in Canada's workforce and to be well-compensated in return.

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14 June 2015

Options on How to Bring Your Settlement Funds to Canada

Bringing the big amount of money with us in Canada was risky.  We are not talking of hundred of dollars here, it's thousands of dollars.

The settlement fund is the fruit of an immigrant's labor and maybe the only asset that had accumulated for many years of employment and/or a small business.

After the Visa, an immigrant was tasked to bring the settlement funds to Canada to be able for her/him to survive for at least 6 months without a job.

How will someone bring the settlement fund?  

It's an email that brought me to make this post, which came from Mr. F.

Here's his concern.
Hi Sir Ben,
It's me again. 
Good news! We have received our visas last week! Praise God!:) 
Now we are preparing for our transition there, and one matter that is not yet clear to me is bringing our settlement funds. 
How did you do it sir? is it through demand draft? traveller's cheque? or cash?  
If it is through demand draft, do you have any idea how long will it take for a Canadian bank to clear/encash it?  
Thank you very much! 
Mr. F. 
To Mr. F., thanks for this inputs cause this is one of the issues that immigrants encounter. It will give you an idea on how to bring the hard-earned settlement funds to Canada.

Options on Bringing the Funds to Canada
There are few options on bringing your settlement funds to Canada.  In this post, I will only give you two that I know. It is in the form of cash or bank draft.

Bank Draft
At first, I planned to bring a bank draft or demand draft.  It is a piece of paper and usually a cheque, depends on the bank.

To get this, you have to inquire at your local bank.  You will then deposit/pay the money, your settlement fund, with the bank and in return they will give you a signed cheque with the value equivalent to that amount.
It is just like buying a piece of paper.
If you have an existing account with that bank, it will be easier for them to do the transfer from your account and write the cheque.

Now, you can bring the bank draft with you on your way to Canada.  It is safe because if you happen to lose it, it can't be withdrawn from your account.

When you arrive in Canada, you have to open a bank account and deposit that cheque.  But, the bank will hold it for 15-30 days.  You can not withdraw any amount until the end of the holding period.

The following are the banks that you can open an account in Canada.  You can click each link to know how long will be the holding period is.

The reason of the holding process is because the bank draft is issued from a foreign bank and the Canadian bank had to verify that it is legitimate, the local bank and the cheque.

So, I recommend that you only get a bank draft or demand draft from a reputable bank in your country.

I had chosen this option.  I exchanged some of my Singapore Dollars to USDollars while I was in Singapore.  It was easier there rather than in Philippines.

When I went back to Philippines, I changed all my Philippine Peso savings to USDollar currency.  Why?  It's because US Dollar is widely used currency in the world economy.  The exchange rate of a US$ does not fluctuate that much compared to a Canadian Dollar.

So, I brought along a small bag full of cash.

For your information: A US$10,000 worth of cash with a US$100 bill denomination is approximately an inch thick.

The cash was placed in a sling bag and I put it around my neck down to my chest. This way, someone needs to kill me first before they can get my hard-earned cash.

As we arrived in Canada, we went to the bank to open an account and deposited the cash in it.   It's fast and easy to withdraw anytime.

It can be taken from you anytime and will be lost forever...

How to bring the fund is up to you.  There may be other options out there, but the important thing is to have a liquid asset with you so you can use it as soon as you need it.

Once you're here, the expenses will increase exponentially for the first few months of your stay.

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14 May 2015

Reasons Why I Left My Country and Live in Canada

In my heart, I am a proud Filipino.  Philippines is my mother country where I had planted my roots since I was young.   I was born with 100%-born Filipino parents and who are also happy to be one.

I grew up in Manila 80% of my lifetime and had visited provinces particularly from North to South of Philippines.  We made road trips from Ilocos to Manila, to Davao, Cagayan, and Zamboanga.

I've been in countries such as Japan, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, UAE (Dubai and Abu Dhabi), and China.  I've seen the lifestyle of people in each country and the beautiful unique environment where they live in.

Why am I saying this and what's the relevance of these things on my post today?

Because of these travels, I had learned some of the people's lifestyles and the environment in these places.  Each had its own advantages and disadvantages.

We have our own priorities and perspective in life.  Our way of thinking and accepting the environment, people, politics and the likes are different from one another.

Despite everything, we all have a common goal and that is to be stable and make someone special in our life be contented.

For me, I need a stable source of income, a family that loves me unconditionally, and a supportive government.  These are my priorities.  It may be different from you or to other people.

We are here in Canada for more than 5 months now and I had achieved and experienced my goals.  I am not expecting that this will be forever but at least once in my life, I had experienced this type of feeling.

Reasons Why I Decided to Immigrate to Canada
Again, this is my own preference.  Some may want a nice customized car, 5-bedroom house, lots of jewelry, a collection of shoes and many other WANTS that we can think of.

Well, I am not that type. For me to be happy, I only need a loving family, a stable job to sustain our basic needs, and a safe environment well monitored and supported by the government.

1. Obvious Corruption in Private Sectors 
I've been handling a Sales team back in the Philippines.  In this type of field, we have to be in contact with corrupt people.  They usually ask 10% or more than we profit for every project.  I don't like this kind of business wherein the customer and supplier relationship is only about bad money.  Most of my clients want to be part of this system, which I politely declined.

If you've been working as a supplier, you know what I mean.

2. Lack of Implementation of the Government's Law
Let's face it, there are lots of rules in our country, but the problem is how it's being implemented. From the simple "No littering" sign to the voting procedures (e.g. No flying voters, No buying of votes, etc.)

I started listening to news and commentaries from the AM radio and grew fond of it since I was 12 years old. Back then, it's unusual for someone my age to listen to AM radio. Other children my age would normally listen to music on FM.

Ever since then, topic of news anchors and commentators about corruptions  hasn't changed for decades. Different laws had been approved but because of corrupt and lack of discipline from the officials themselves, it's just there as a law with poor implementation. 

At least PNOY (President Noynoy) is cleaning a bit of it as of the time being. But 6 years of being a president is not enough to clean a country that's been corrupted thrice his presidential term. It's like cleaning a house for 30 mins after having a week long celebration of your child's party... or cleaning a whole arena after having a huge concert...I think you all get my point. 

3. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW)
It was 1967 when my Aunt left the Philippines and even asked my mother to go with her in Canada to work as an OFW. But my mother declined, she cannot bear leaving her loving husband and children behind.

After 4 decades, history repeats itself... but this time, I need to sacrifice my own emotions for the sake of the future of my kids. Our joint finances (me and my wife's salary) couldn't match the growing expenses we had back then. So off to Singapore where I worked for 5 years.

When I was there, I recalled what happened to my mother and I asked myself, "Do we really need to do this in every generation? I don't want to have my son working, as an OFW like me, in the future leaving his family behind in the Philippines.

It's very difficult being an OFW. It pains me a lot every time I step at the entrance of the airport, say goodbyes to my wife and sons, after a few days visit in Philippines.

4. To be with my Family 
It's a good thing that nowadays we have means to communicate with our loved ones through Skype and Facebook. In this way, I could talk to them and see my sons grow up. But it's not much of a fulfillment as a father. Why settle for a virtual image, if you can hold them very close to you every time you came from work?

Fathers and Fathers-To-Be, should I explain more? You know what I mean.

Why not Live in Singapore?
It's easier said than done.  I attempted to apply for a Permanent Residence in Singapore and was declined without giving me reasons.  They said that I can apply again if I want to. But, how can I improve my application if I don't know where my mistakes are?

Let's say that I've been approved, will I be a citizen for the next five years or so?  I have lots of Filipino friends who stayed PR's for more than 5 years and still have that status until now.  What happens if they don't renew the PR status?

I understand that this is how the government balances the number of PR and citizens.  But, waiting to be included in the bell curve was something that I can't do.

I love Singapore, it's cleanliness and discipline is way better than in my country. It's a Fine City as what some call it. They even have printed shirts that indicate the penalties if you did the following:

Spitting in public places
Bringing Durian inside the MRT
Chewing gums
Urinating in lifts

They made it from 3rd world to first, the perfect place to live in Southeast Asia.

Well, it's been a blessing in disguise when they haven't approved my PR, it's because Canada wanted me here.

Now, I'm in Toronto, Did I Get What I Wanted?
I'm writing this today, May 11, 2015, so I have the record of what I'm thinking right now.

We've been here for more than 5 months now and we had survived the harsh Winter.  I looked at our window, looking at the beautiful and colorful blossoms at far, still asking this questions.

"Am I really in Canada?" 

To tell you the truth, I can't believe that I'm already here in Canada.  Sometimes, when I go to my sister and/or at gatherings where all came from my homeland, I thought that I'm still in the Philippines.

But, when I'm driving alone, I just smile as wide as I could, cause nobody looks at me while driving, and I say to myself...


When I'm with my wife, and kids in the backseat.  I hold my wife's hand and glance at her, saying...

"We're really here!!!"

These are the feelings that no Proof of Fund can pay.  One of the priceless moment that I felt in my life.

Here are the things I got as an FSW Immigrant in Canada:
  • Free Education for my Kids
  • Free Hospitalization
  • Free Vaccination for my Kids
  • Free transportation for my Kids (12 years old and under - free fare
  • Safer Place to raise my family
  • More Disciplined Drivers
  • We are here as an ideal family, because Canada is a Family-Oriented country.
  • Prices of commodities are way lower than in Philipines in terms of salary to prices-of-goods ratio.
  • My salary now (new job) is higher than in Singapore and with the same benefits.
  • Most of my friends says that there are three most protected individuals here in Canada.  They are women, animals, and children.  Their rights are well respected here as compared to some other countries.
  • Nobody asks about my status here.  Well, in Singapore, while working with clients, they'll always ask me if I'm a PR or a Work Pass holder and I never knew why they ask me that.
    To get the idea about Toronto, Canada from My personal view, let me give you the recipe...

    1. Get the beauty and cleanliness of Singapore.  Include the Expressways in Singapore and mix a bit of the bumpy roads of Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia.  

    2. Sautee the nice Spring weather in China, Baguio in Philippines, and Japan.  Gather the food in Singapore and take out a small portion of Halal and Chinese food but add the great service from the Philippines.   

    3. Get the transportation system in Singapore.

    4. Bring in the internet connection speed of Singapore but higher the price by 50%.  Include the banking system in Singapore but reduce the convenience (transacting) by grade level 2.

    5. Include the safety of Singapore but garnish with a very small amount of killings by guns from the Philippines.

    6. Gather and sprinkle the beautiful faces of women and men from Dubai or Abu Dhabi with a slice of pretty ladies and gentlemen from Southeast Asia.

    7. Top it all up with a huge serving of freebies from the Toronto Public Health and Toronto Public Education. Even the Toronto Public Library have free movies, arts and crafts, and other fun filled activities for both young and young at heart. :) 

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    01 May 2015

    Top 5 Problems We Encountered As an Immigrant in Toronto Canada

    Some of our relatives and friends that were in Canada may hide the negative aspects of their lives in the country, which they don't want us to know the real situation.

    As always, my style was to give my readers all the positive aspects of a country where I reside in and true when I was in Singapore.

    Like My Singapore Story, it's always focused on the positive side because I thought that showing those were easy than focusing on the darker regions.

    This time, I had to lay down the "negative" cards in Canada because one of my readers (Anna) emailed me and asked about the problems that I had encountered here.

    Here's her message...
    "We just received the ITA from CIC yesterday so we will have to hand in the documents in 60 days and after 6 months should get the visa. 
    I just read your wife, Net's writing on your blog that she just resigned from her job. How is your family situation now? Is it difficult to adapt there?...
    ....Please do share with us about your problems. We hope that we can see you soon in Toronto."
    After reading her email, it made me realize that I should be starting to post about my problems that I've encountered here.  This is for the benefit of all FSW applicants and new immigrants.

    Problems We'd Encountered In Canada
    Like you, I was clueless about how Canada look like and how's life inside the country.  I got the information only from my relatives, friends and online forums.  

    Although there are government sites that provide us information to settle, but it's not personal.  This time, you will have it straight from me in Toronto, Canada.

    I will start from the month before we landed until the present.

    1. Budgeting For The Airline Tickets
    As we know the fact that the distance between Philippines and Canada is 6,921miles.  This means that the airline ticket is not expensive, but VERY expensive.

    The price of our ticket on 2014 was PHP110,000.00 (USD2,500) for 2 adults and 2 kids, terminal fees and travel taxes are exclusive.  Instead of using the amount for my Proof Of Fund, it was diverted to my expenses.

    Imagine if we are going for a vacation in Philippines, 4 of us, we might need to save money in 2 or more straight years just for the ticket and I wonder how much would it be then.

    2. Permanent Residence Card
    As soon as we arrived in Canada, the immigration officer at the airport informed us that we will receive our PR cards 8 to 10 weeks upon landing.

    We waited for over that timeframe until I decided to call the CIC customer hotline to follow up our PR cards.  I was informed that they had sent a letter 2 months ago to my address and that it was returned to them due to a wrong address.

    I can't remember how I mistakenly stated the address, but maybe I did.  They added that the reason for the delay in the issuance of our PR cards was because of our photos, which the Case Processing Center (CPC) was requiring us to submit a new set.

    Usually, when CIC requires me to submit something, they'll send me an email in conjunction with a physical letter.  But, I was wondering, for this time, they haven't sent me an email correspondence.

    We've been here for more than 5 months without the PR cards.   The proof of our status was only our COPR copies and passports.  So, we sent a new set of photos to CPC.

    Few days ago, the PR cards came at last, but the bad news is, my card wasn't there.  Well, I need to inform them again.   The postman may have accidentally dropped it on his way to our mailbox.  We'll see how it goes.

    3.  Effects of Winter in Our Tropical Skin
    This is our first time to experience winter with temperatures that reaches -22degC and feels like -30degC.  You will know how it feels with these numbers and units once you get here.

    The first few weeks and months were a total adjustment for us.  We are clueless on the changes, which the cold weather affected our tropical body and skin.  We had experienced nose bleeding, super dry skin, skin pigmentation, clogged nose, and cracked skin that develops into a wound.

    4. Time and Schedules
    My wife and I were both working days after we've landed.   That was a good start and we're working enthusiastically on the first days and months in our job-site.

    Our finances were good, we can buy the groceries we want and need for our daily necessities.  Bills are paid on time and the kids can have their weekend delight and surprises.

    Then we realized that TIME was the culprit of us being unhappy with our job and setup.

    To give you an idea, agencies hire people who were eager to work anytime and anywhere.  The schedules that they provide were the following:

    Morning shift - 7:00am to 4:00pm
    Afternoon shift - 4:00pm to 11:00pm
    Night shift - 11:00pm to 7:00am
    Normal shift - 8:00 to 5:00pm

    For me, I was working on a normal shift.  On the other hand, my wife was given an afternoon shift. This is a good setup if we don't have children.  But, it's not the case.

    My eldest son, SAM, should be in school at 8:30am to 3:00pm and my youngest stays home the whole day, playing.

    I made a chart here to give you a better view of our situation.

    The Yellow color is represented as the time when each of us is away from home. On the other hand, Green represents the time that we're at home.

    The color that we need to focus our attention is at the Red line.  That means, at this period, me and my wife were both away from home and SAM and TOM's schedules were Green.  It was a big issue for us as to where to leave them with while we're away.

    I was lucky to have a sister near our place who had an evening shift.  We send them both to her during our Yellow time.

    5. Doing the Chores
    When I arrive home from work, I had to fetch the two at my sister's house.  Coming from work, tired and hungry was the worst thing that I don't want to experience at the end of the day.  My wife was out to work and the problems were:

    * Who prepares our dinner?
    * Who prepares the milk and taking our kids to sleep?
    * Who cooks our breakfast and prepares lunch?
    * Who cleans the house?

    So, my wife cleans the house, cooks dinner and breakfast when she's at home.  For me, I prepare the milk, clean the house, heat the food in the microwave, wash the dishes and put my kids to bed while I'm craving for food and sleep.  *sigh*

    It was difficult having this type of setup.  Since we are new, we've closed our one eye and moved on with the uneasy setup for a few months...

    If you've noticed, the problem of clothing and furniture were not included in the list, it's because I have my sister who happened to have a network of generous friends who provided us most of our winter, spring clothing and furniture.

    If you don't have networks yet, you can buy second-hand clothing or buy at cheap factory outlets here in Toronto and this will be discussed on my future posts.

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    Do you have any questions in mind?  Leave a comment below.

    08 March 2015

    A Minimum Wage Earner in Toronto Canada: Salary Vs. Expenses

    After the job interview and knowing that I will start working on the next Monday, I was excited to tell my sister and everybody about the job.

    It was a great feeling, knowing that I don't have to worry about my finances anymore, well at least for the time being.

    While on my way home from the interview, walking along the pathway with more red maple leaves blocking my way, I appreciated more of the beauty of the surroundings.   What I saw was that...
    * The grass is greener and the red maple leaves were not just red but has different sizes.   
    * The pine trees along the way are not made of plastic at all.
    * There were no trash along the road.
    * Lastly, I was the only human walking along the pathway... 
    The thought of my dilemmas that I've gone through with my FSW application to get in to this country, marks a smile of fulfillment on my face.
    * I remembered how CIC returned my 2007 application on 2012.
    Seeing the flag, with a red maple leaf, in front of the buildings made me realize that I'm now in Canada and soon to be part of their workforce.

    On Monday, I will be included in the Minimum Wage Earner job market.

    What My Friends Thought About My Job?
    Besides announcing my new job with my wife and relatives, I also informed some of my close friends.  They like the idea of me having a job as a new immigrant, but they kept on advising me not to work at that level for a long time.

    They advised me to look for a job that is more relevant to my experience and credentials.  As they were explaining their thoughts on me, their facial expression show signs of discontent and regret.

    To give you an idea of my background,  I'm a licensed Engineer with more than 10 years of experience in my field, and worked in Singapore as a technical support for the Southeast Asian customers.

    I fully understand what they thought of my new career, an Assembler, but the most important is my own decision.

    When I arrive here, I never stopped planning. Although I haven't planned to be an assembler,  I know that this will soon to be part of my future success, which I was prepared for.

    My Thoughts of Being in the Minimum Wage Earner Workforce
    The first thing that I considered when I accepted this job was our cash flow.  The fact that I'm a new landed immigrant, with a limited money to burn, it's logical for me or "anyone" to get any type of job.

    I have to cling on to something before I fall down completely.  Failing to have a job in Canada or any other place is not acceptable especially when your wife and kids are with you.

    Being in this kind of job has a minimal stress and responsibilities.  The decision making is simple.  All I have to do is to pick some parts, inspect for damages and assemble it.   If there's something wrong with the parts, just call the supervisor for help.

    Budgeting My Salary 
    Having an $11.00/hr salary is minimal, it is insufficient to supply us with our weekly needs if I work alone.

    Let me breakdown my salary and our expenses to give you an idea...

    Salary: ($11.00 / Hr) x (8 hours/day) x (5days/week) = $440 / week
    CPP (Canada Pension Plan) = $18/week
    Employment Insurance = $8/week
    Tax (Federal Tax) = $43/week

    Laundry ($60/month) = $15/week
    House Rental ($880/month) = $220/week
    Food ($60/week) = $60/week
    Mobile Plan ($76/month) = $19/week
    Internet ($95/month) = $23.75/week
    Transportation = $56/week (using a GTA pass)
    School Tuition = FREE
    Hospitalization = FREE

    If we do the Math...
    Salary - Expenses = C$440 - C$462 (We are short of $22 per week)              

    The good thing about Canada is that our kids have their own allowances from the government.  If parents are in the minimum wage, they can get around $300-400 per month more or less, depends upon the assessment.

    This will compensate our negative income.  But, for me, I don't want to wait for the government's subsidy.  My wife and I agreed that she needs to have a job so that her income ($440/week without tax) will be our savings and so we can send some in Philippines.

    So, if we add our net income together..
    Ben = (- $ 22)  /week (negative income)
    Net =    $ 371 /week ($440 less CPP, EI, Tax)
    Kids =  $ 75 / week            $ 424 /week (Total Savings)           
    Having this net income per week is enough for our family savings.

    Of course, there will be expenses for our new house like furnitures, gadgets, new TV, etc... These can be included in the budget but is not considered as the essential expenses.  It means that we can still live without these items.

    As long as we don't buy luxury things, we will be fine for now.

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