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Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts

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.

21 August 2015

University Education For Your Children in Toronto, Canada

Yup, children have free education here in Canada.  But, not all of it are FREE, it's only for the Primary School and Secondary students (4-18 years old).

This is a system that was provided by the government, which they gave ample time for parents to save money for the University education of their children.

The next question is, how much do we need to save and when do we start?

In this post, I'll give you an idea about 
* What you need to know about University tuition?
* How much to save for our children's University education?

How Much are the Tuition Fees for Universities Degrees (2013)
I have done some research about the average tuition fees in Canada and here's the data that I've found from the Statistics Canada as of the year 2013.

The data was taken from the school year 2011 to 2013.  It shows the percent change of tuition fees between the school year 2011/2012 and 2012/2013.

As you can see, at the table for Undergraduates, Dentistry (C$16,910 with a rate increase of 5.4%) has the most expensive tuition, while Education has the cheapest (C$4,006 with a rate increase of 5.3%).

With this yearly increase of tuition, with a maximum of 6.8% annually,  we can predict how much would it cost for the tuition fees after 5 or 10 years.

How Much Should I Save?
I always ask my son on what course should he take when he'll be in college. He's still 10 years old now, but he is very serious on getting an Engineering degree.  Well, what I can do is to support him the best that I can.

So, I computed the cost of an Engineering degree 8 years from now, when he turns 18,  with a rate of 6.8% or let's say the worst and the easiest to compute is 10%.
Engineering Tuition 2013 - C$6,552 per year
Rate Increase - 10% per year
Tuition on the year 2023 (my son turns 18) - C$16,994 per year
We also need to consider the miscellaneous fees like books, dorm, etc...

I asked a mother with a son in college.  She explained that the miscellaneous fees would cost her another C$3,000.  There are books that cost about C$800 each.

So, in order for my son to be in the University on 2023, we need an estimate of C$19,994 on the first year.  That would be about C$80, 000++ for the whole Engineering degree.

Are you interested more about Education for your kids in Ontario, Canada?  Email me at ( to get more information about education loans and education savings plans with the help from the government.  There are ways on how to save now and give yourself and your child a worry-free education.

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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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18 March 2015

Consequences of Being an OFW and FSW: Is it Better or Worse?

Every two months, as a foreign worker in Singapore,  I made sure to have a quick vacation in the Philippines.  It's a quick one because I only stayed there for 4 to 5 days.

The good thing about my job in Singapore was the flexibility of my time.  Filing a leave was never been a problem 'cause each one has already been planned 6 months ahead of time.  So, I made sure that my leave of absence were filed 3 months before my next Philippine visit.

Everytime I reached the NAIA Terminals, my two boys were there to greet me all the time.  They're so excited from the moment they see me from the glass-covered waiting areas.  They'll be jumping for joy.

As I move closer to them, two sets of small arms, widely spread, reaches up towards me, with their small cute lips touching my cheeks.   The loneliness and depression that I got from Singapore vanishes as their soft baby cheeks touches my lips.

I am not alone... many of my fellow Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) Fathers are experiencing this burden, I'm sure.  This is true specially when a father and his child had a great relationship before the separation.

Effects of Being an OFW on My 10-Year Old
My toddler, now 10, was very close to me when I was working in the Philippines.  I always cry secretly when I remember our playful times together inside our house.

He always sings in front of many people.  My wife and I also made sure that he speaks with other people with confidence.

I left him when he was a confident little boy.  My excitement working in Singapore had isolated my thinking about the future effect of it on him.

Skype or Facebook were our ways of communication. He was typing odd words and jumbled letters at the message window back then, until the time that he can create full sentences.  That's how time flies.

We had video chats, almost everyday, but the loneliness deep inside was there all the time.   It'll get worse when we say our goodbyes.

Years passed by until I learned that he was no longer singing in front of people and was so shy speaking to someone.  His voice was getting unconfident, dragging his self-esteem down.

His teacher explained to my wife that he is experiencing a "separation anxiety".  This is the effect when two closely related individuals separate from each other.

My son is not the only one with this type of issues, this is common on children that are away from their father or mother for quite a long time.

Separated From my Baby Boy
During my stay in Singapore, my wife and my 10-year old visits me every summer.  It's one of  my happiest moments in the Lion City.  We've visited a lot of places and food centres in every corner of the country.

This is also the time when we decided to add a new member of the family.  A new baby boy was made in Singapore and born in Philippines. :D

Back then, with the same setup, I thought that it won't have any effect on my little boy as he was born  without me.  He will have no separation anxiety and he will get used to it sooner.

As usual, my frequent visit in Philippines gives me a chance to carry my baby boy and kiss him anytime I want.

I remembered that he was so small back then that he fits in-between my elbow and wrist as I carried him to sleep.

Time flies, and he grew up faster and heavier and spoke his first words of Daddy and Mommy.  He became aware that going to the airport is saying goodbye to me as I go back to Singapore.  This is what he was used to back then.

He became strict with his mother, making it sure that I cannot hug her or kiss her with his presence.  The thought of me not having a chance to hug my spouse in front of our kid is surprising and unusual. It was not the case when our 10-yr old was at the same age.

The worst thing was that he doesn't like my presence when he was going to sleep.  Seeing me beside him makes him irritable and eventually transfer to his nanny.  He also hated when I'm sleeping beside his mom.

My 10 and 3 year-old After the FSW Immigration in Canada
Low self-esteem and overprotective sons were the results of me working in Singapore for a couple of years.

It seems that God saw my situation and blessed me with our FSW Visa.  But, it didn't stop there, He provided us jobs that will change the relationship between me and my sons.

This is how it changed our lives...

My wife was working as an operator in a manufacturing industry, also a minimum wage earner.  By the way, she is a licensed teacher with more than 10 years experience in a private school in the Philippines.

She works in the afternoon until night and goes to bed at 2:00 in the morning.

Well, for me, I worked for an 8 to 5 job from Monday to Friday.  My wife and I are having a hard time to talk or see each other on weekdays.  She goes home while I'm fast asleep and off I go for work while she was still sleeping.

This situation didn't bother me at all because it gives me the opportunity to bond with my children. When my wife is out for work, I had another full time job.  Here's the job description...
- Taking care of my two sons
- Become a single "Mom/Dad"
- House cleaning
- Dishwasher
- Garbage collector
- Putting my kids to bed
These duties made me closer to my kids.  My 10-year old's self-confidence is getting better.   On the other hand, my 3-year old doesn't want to go to sleep without my stories of "Thomas and Friends" and requests me to sleep beside him every bedtime.

Having the chance to be with them and seeing them grow for at least at their toddler and teenage years was the best reward of being a Federal Skilled Worker Immigrant in Canada!

Do you Agree?  Please tick the LIKE button below this post.
Ben Alagnam - MeMovingToCanada