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Showing posts with label Experiences. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Experiences. Show all posts

03 November 2016

What Is It Like Living With Changing Temperatures in Canada

Wintertime in Toronto, took this photo while waiting for my wife at Esso gas station.
Let me tell you about what it’s like living in Canada, a country that has 4 seasons, which is spring, summer, fall and winter.

In my entire life, I haven’t had a chance to experience winter. Although I’ve been to Japan but it was the last few weeks of summer. In Philippines, I had visited Baguio, a place with temperatures that can go down 18oC to 10 oC.

But for negative temperatures, I’ve never been to that place at all until Canada.

For newcomers, living in tropical countries in their entire lives, this post will be helpful for you.  It's my way to teach you how to cope up with cold climates.

It's starts with a proper clothing.

Layering of Winter Clothing
Upper Clothing
Layering of clothing is essential during winter. On my first experience of the season, I wore four layers of upper clothing.  

  • 1st layer - Tropical shirt (cotton)
  • 2nd layer - Thick sweater
  • 3rd layer - Sweater with hood
  • 4th layer - Thick winter coat
The sweater with hood was added as the third layer because the winter coat that I used has no hood.

  • If winter coat has no head cover, the cold wind will penetrate our scalp and will easily bring down our body temperature.
Lower Clothing
I wore fleece pants under my corduroy pants.  Corduroy insulates my lower body better than denim jeans.  Denim jeans is my next choice, but it is not a good insulator.  Once it gets cold, it seems like it'll trap the cold air in it's fibers.  So I prefer corduroy than denim.

I got an underpants from SM Bicutan Department Store thinking that it can insulate me well.  It's labelled "Warm Pants".  When I tried it in Canada, it failed.  I still can feel the cold, so wearing it is useless.

Tip: Only buy your body insulators in Canada. Body insulation experts were born here, you know!

Footwear
For the footwear, I wore one thick socks under my waterproof shoes.  It is essential to have a water-proof shoes to avoid melted snow soaking your feet.  That will be freezing.

This Merrell waterproof shoes helped me a lot.  I invested $150 for this shoes and still using it.
Thick gloves is also important.  If you wear nothing, your hands will numb with cold.  Sometimes, you'll get a cut from somewhere and you'll never notice.

Tip: Invest in good footwear and gloves.

At this getup, I can now go out and feel the cold winter season of Toronto.  My tropical body wasn't get used to having this temperature so I shiver all the time even with these layers.  

Temperatures in Toronto can reach up to minus -20 oC.  It can last up to 2 to 3 days and it goes back to minus -10 oC.

At the start of the winter, the temperature will gradually drop from 8 oC to 3 oC . In December, it start to have flurries and temperature may be at around 1 oC to minus -3degC. 

January will start to have snowfalls and cold 100km/hr wind.  

I remembered waiting for a bus and a 100km/hr++ wind was trying to blow me off while holding the bus stop pole.   If that situation was in the Philippines, it would probably be a signal #2 storm.

What You Will See On the Roads?
Cars will travel slower and you can see steam on the mufflers.  You've seen this on TV...

Snow plowing trucks will be around.  They come in different sizes, small ones are like the size of golf carts and large ones similar to bulldozers.  In wide roads like expressways, they plow side by side with each other running 90km/hr.

This little guy is totally insulated with a cute Siberian Husky head gear. :D
How it feels like Winter?
If I were to go back in the days when I was preparing for our move to Canada, I should have practiced my brain on how to cope up with winter.

You're lucky you found this post because I'll teach you how to practice your mind and body to feel the winter while you're in a tropical place.

After reading this blog, do the following to teach your mind about cold.

  • Go to your refrigerator or to a store.  
  • Get a pack of ice and pour it all in a pail. 
  • Add a small amount of water to it until the ice floats.
  • If you have an air-conditioned room, set it at the lowest temperature possible and only wear thin t-shirt and shorts. Wait for 5 to 10 minutes.  
  • Then, soak your hands in the pail of ice and water until you can’t feel anything.  All fingers will feel numb at that moment.
That's what it feels like at sub zero temperatures.

Tip: Do this regularly to prepare yourself for the cold especially if you’re immigrating in winter.


That’s how cold a minus one (-1) oC temperature is.  Just imagine the temperatures lower than that.

If you need other information about the weather in Canada and how and what to wear, send me an email at benalagnam@yahoo.com or samtimerrun@gmail.com.


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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. 

Register: http://goo.gl/forms/1U0vhsDCrn



Let's have some FUN!

12 February 2016

Why Did I Bring Cash in US Dollar and Not Canadian?

I need to post this subject as it's one of the most important topics for us, new immigrants.

Here's an email sent to me by Ms. S.B.:
"You mentioned in your previous post that you brought cash. Is it in USD or in CAD$? We tried to check with BPI and HSBC but the rate is higher (~php 1 peso)compared to money changer. The only problem with the money changer is that they do not have CAD$ available on hand...

Can you share your experience on this topic? Thanks."
First of all, be careful in exchanging your currency.  If you are not going to a bank, go to a trusted money changer.   Yes, it's true that small-scale money changers have higher exchange rates but the risk is higher.

Anyway, once you find a good money changer, go ahead a compare their rates with the bank.  It's quite difficult though because rates change everyday.  You have to be at two to three banks and money changers in a day. If you have someone that can send you a message regarding the rates, that would be good.

The Exhange Rate?
On 2014, before we packed up for Canada, C$1.00 (Canadian Dollar) has an equivalent of US$0.90 (US Dollar) .  Philippine Peso (PHP) to Canadian Dollar (C$) was also high on that month.

PHP42.00 = C$1.00
PHP45.00 = US$1.00

For a family of 4, I need to have a Proof of Fund that can satisfy the Canadian Officers more than the amount of C$20, 654.  At that time, I need to have the money worth PHP867, 468.   It is also worth US$19,277.06.

I changed my Philippine and Singapore currency to US$22,000++ and brought it to Canada in Cash.

Why I Brought it in Cash Instead of Draft/Cheque?
I brought cash money in US$ and each in US$100.00 denomination. It can fit in a sling bag with a size of 2" thick x 4" width x 5 width.  I like the idea of the sling because it can be strapped like a necklace.

The sling bag was strapped around me for the whole trip.  If you want to get my money, Kill Me First, LOL!  I gave half of it to my wife to lower the risk of loosing everything.  She placed it in her handbag.

It's simple logic, cash is liquid, you can use it anytime.  Compared to cash, bank draft and cheques need more time to liquidate.  Bank drafts are designed for the risk involved during the travel.  Well, you don't count your dollars in public or speak about it during the travel.  If you can minimize the risk, then cash is really the answer.


You need most of the money upon arrival because you need to pay for the house rent, usually has 1 month downpayment and 1 month deposit.  And not only that, there are other expenses like groceries, opening a phone account, housewares, clothings, etc...

The next time you peep in your sling bag, the money will be half thinner.

US and Not Canadian Dollar?
You need a stable currency.  In fact, I'm still holding my settlement funds in US dollar today and use my salary, in Canadian dollars, for my expenses.

For me, US Dollar is so far the most stable currency in the world and is widely accepted.  Most of the airport money changers accepts US Dollar.  If ever we'll be stranded in an airport along our way to Canada, I still can use the currency.

My Decision Was Right!
If I bought Canadian Dollars for my settlement funds that time, it's now worth only PHP702,236 today.  I should have lost PHP165,232 (C$4,859) because of today's exchange rate of PHP34.00 = C$1.00.

Since my money is in US Dollars, I can now buy more Canadian Dollars for my TFSA.


Recommendation
Immigrants who are bound to Canada this year can enjoy the benefit of the low exchange rate.  I suggest that you buy Canadian Dollars instead of the US currency.  Here's why...

For a family of 4, you need a minimum settlement fund of C$22,603 and that is only PHP768,502. Compared to our settlement fund, that was PHP867, 468 (C$20, 654).

Given that the Canadian Dollar will rise soon as the market booms and reaches near the value of US Dollar, you'll be richer.

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04 February 2016

D-Box Experience in Cineplex Cinemas Canada: Star Wars (The Force Awakens)

It was time to rewards ourselves with entertainment.  There are lots of it here in Canada, we only need to get it one at a time.

I was browsing the internet one night and saw a Star Wars trailer.  We already watched the previous episodes from The Phantom Menace to Episode 6.  The thought of watching it in theaters was not my priority because I know that I can view it in some other cheaper media.

The idea was to just check the price of the movie ticket. But, while browsing the Cineplex website, I saw a word D-Box and was stuck on that for an hour.  I researched it and realized how great it would be for us to experience it in Canada with the movie Star Wars.

I booked a ticket immediately and it cost us the following:

Adult:  C$25
Kid: C$20

Total of C$90++  tax for a family of four.

The following day, we headed to Cineplex Cinemas at Highway 7.  The moment we stepped out from the car, the excitement kicked in.  We took some photos outside the cinema building as it is our first time watching in a Cineplex cinema in Canada.
Cineplex Cinemas at Highway 7, Vaughan ON Canada

The temperature was 2deg C when we got in. This is how Cineplex looks like from the inside.  

There are 19 cinemas here in Cineplex Cinemas.
Master Yoda looking at the far far away galaxy.
We scanned the ticket code that was sent to us through the booking site.   Each show lasts for 2 hours and 16 minutes. We arrived 30 minutes earlier so we had to wait outside the cinema.  That gave us a chance to take another set of photos.  

We were then instructed to go in and picked a pair of 3D glasses, 2 for adult and 2 for kids.  That little cute guy in the picture was eager to press the D-Box setting buttons beside the chair.

Buttons to set the intensity of the D-Box seat.
There are two buttons that you'll press to set the intensity of the D-Box.  It will change how it shakes and incline as it responds with the movie.  One is the negative (-) and the other is (+).  Pressing one will increase or decrease the intensity and indicated by the green-light indicator bars.  Setting the minimum setpoint will disable the D-Box.

Sadly, throughout the movie, TOM set his setting to a minimum.  He was afraid of the shaking and rocking of the seat when X-wings came for battle.


How D-Box Works?
The D-Box experience is amazing, so I wondered how the seat responds with the movie scene.  This is how I found out the technology behind it.



I highly recommend trying the D-Box when watching great films.  It creates a totally different experience.  You can feel the movie in 4D and feels like you're in it.

Have you experienced D-Box once in your life?  Try it and leave your comment below.

30 November 2015

Applying for a US Visa in Toronto Canada Experience

Is it easy to get a US Visa when you're in Canada?

Most Filipinos dreamed of going to the United States of America.  Some wanted to take a tour and others to migrate.  On the other hand, what it takes to get a Visa from the Philippines?  Is it the same as while in Canada?

I have friends and relatives who attempted to apply for the Visa in the Philippines but were denied.  Some got through and stayed there for good.

My goal was only to be here in Canada and maybe I can visit the US in the near future.  It's not my dream to live in the US.  If given an opportunity, maybe a 5-day tour is enough for me.

One day, I was called by the company's CEO and was tasked to do one important thing.  They need me to get a Visa for a business trip to the United States of America!  I was a little shocked and excited at the same time.  It's an opportunity of a lifetime.

A lot of blessings were given to me since I get here.  This time, I was caught unprepared.  ...Then, I suddenly remembered the difficulty of having the Canada FSW Visa, the documents that I need to prepare.  But now, it would be easy for me because all my documents were ready.

The only issue of me having the US Visa is that I have to arrange it myself.  But, the company will shoulder all the expenses.

So, I searched online for the procedure and gathered the required documents.

For your information, I will explain the step by step process of getting a US Visa here in Toronto.  This is a B1/B2, for tourism and business, type of VISA,  it's also termed as business and business for pleasure.

STEP 1 (Preparation)
I prepared the documents needed for the VISA.
1. Passport
  • Current Passport valid for travel to the United States. The passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements.) 
  • .  Passport containing the most recently issued U.S. Visa (if applicable). 
2. 2x2 photo ( hardcopy and softcopy)
Went to a photographer and informed him that I need photos for US VISA purpose and paid C$19 for 4 copies.
The photographer sent me a JPEG copy for online submission.

3. Father, Mother, and Relatives in US Details
My parents were no longer living so I have to rely on the previous copies of my previous CIC application regarding their details.  I have to know my father's and mother's birthday.  This will be used for online application later on.

If you have relatives in US, know their details like name, birthday and address.

4. Education Details
I need to know the school details like the name and address, degree and date of graduation.

5. Previous Employment Details
I need to provide the duties of current and past employment.  Resume comes in handy.

6. National ID number
I used the Philippines Tax Identification Number for this.

7. Proof of Legal Status in Canada.
I have my passport with me, with a Canadian Visa stamp in it, and brought a photocopy and original copy of my COPR and Permanent Residence card just in case they ask.

I did not include my wife and kids in my application.  For your information, if you want to include them in your application, here are the requirements:
The following documents may be useful to support your visa application:
Intention to depart the United States upon completion of your travel.Sufficient funds to cover all expenses while in the United States.Evidence that you have significant ties to the country to which you intend to return at the end of your stay in the United States (This is generally established by evidence of family, professional, property, employment or other ties and commitments to a country other than the United States.)
So, I requested a letter with the intention of my stay, funds, and significant ties in Canada from my employer just in case the US Consulate asks.

8. Details of Destination
I printed the list of all the names and addresses of our US suppliers.  This will be asked at one portion of the application.

We set a certain date of my departure for the sake of the application.  It was a tentative date because we were not sure if they will approve my Visa or not.

STEP 2 (Online Application)
After Completing the required information from 1 to 8, I went online to make an online application at this link:
Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS160) https://ceac.state.gov/GenNIV/default.aspx
1. I chose Toronto, Canada for the location and there are three red tabs at the right of that website, I clicked the "START AN APPLICATION" tab.

Don't worry if you don't finish the application, you can save and retrieve it anytime, just remember the Application Number.

If you have other questions regarding DS-160, go to the link below:
Frequently asked questions for DS-160

2. Upload the photo online
At the end of the online application, there's a step there on how to upload the photo.

3. Sign the Document Online
You have to finish the process by signing the document online.  It is just like agreeing to all the terms and conditions pertaining to your application.

4. I printed the completed DS-160 form.

STEP 3 (Online Appointment)
Schedule an appointment by creating an account with the website.
Schedule an appointment https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-ca/niv/information/niv
I created an account with the website and selected the available time of appointment.  Luckily, I got an appointment 4 days after my online application.

Then I paid USD160.00. A receipt was emailed to me for my future reference.

I printed the Confirmation and instructions page.
 Note: Bring the Confirmation and Instructions page at the Interview printed from the website 
STEP 4 (Interview)
The very first thing to consider during the interview is not to bring prohibited items.  There are many in the list. To avoid such concerns, what I did was to wear and bring the basic things like:

Clothing and Personal Belongings:
Jeans (no belt)
Shoes and pair of socks (no metallic object)
Car key
Shirt
Jacket
Wallet

Documents: 
Passport
Letter from my employer
Payment Receipt (emailed)
Proof of Legal Status in Canada (PR Card, COPR)
Confirmation and Instructions
DS160

Contact information and how to visit on appointment day.
http://toronto.usconsulate.gov/contact.html

The documents were placed in a clear folder so I can retrieve it easily.  There was a line (queue) outside of the embassy, but I arrived on time for my appointment anyway, so no worries.

The person in charge checked the documents and led me to the entrance door, where the x-ray machine was located.  Then another person reviewed my documents then instructed me to proceed to the room.

There's another queue that leads to the 3rd document checkpoint where I presented my passport.  Then I queued to another line, which leads to the Visa Officer (Interviewer).

It took me about 20 minutes with all the documents checking from the main entrance of the embassy to the Officer counter.

While on the queue, I can hear the voice of the Officer asking an applicant because the counter have speakers in it.  Some were approved and others denied, I can see tears or smiles on their faces.

Even though my application was not a do or die thing, but I felt nervous.  When it was my turn, I felt the rapid heartbeat, but my facial expression remained calm.

The officer asked me about my job and places to visit in US, took my passport and gave me a piece of paper and told me..."Your Visa is Approved!"...it took 5 minutes for the decision.

Two weeks after, I received an email. It was an instruction on how to pick up my passport with the Visa.  It was at a designated forwarder.

So I went to the forwarder's office, showed my PR Card and opened up my passport.  Another sticker was printed on it, with a Visa validity of 10 years!

Watch the Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9dmkE2UWAk&feature=youtu.be

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29 October 2015

Staying in Holiday Inn Montreal, Quebec

I've been visiting Montreal, Quebec as part of my occupation.  My friends said that people here have a hard time communicating in English because they are French.  But, it's not always the case, I've met customers in Montreal and I can say that they can speak well in English, better than me, of course.

When you get farther from Montreal, fewer people speak English.  I had experienced once in a small town where I pumped gasoline.  The lady cashier can't speak English and even I act it with my hands, she still doesn't understand.

She asked a guy, a customer at the store, if he can talk to me but he also can't get what I'm saying.  What I did was just to say Thank You and left. I need to start studying French.

By the way, for your information, Montreal is an island just like Singapore.

With all my visits in Montreal, I usually stay in hotels.  It depends on the location of the customer.  Sometimes, the hotel will be far away from the city or in downtown Montreal.

I like hotels that are located near a store such as Walmart so I can buy my groceries for just a walk away.

One of the best hotels that I've stayed so far was the HOLIDAY INN in Montreal. Wifi was fast and the place was really nice.  Look at these photos...

When you go into the hotel, the lobby is at the center of the building. To the far corner of it is a resto bar.



They had a display of a Biplane hanging on the ceiling of the lobby.  I hope they used a strong rope for that one.


After coming out from the elevator, I can see the hall leading to my room.



The room was clean and well-arranged.  I had an office table and, as usual, a flat screen TV.


This is the Wash Room and the Shower.



Most hotels that I've stayed in has no automatic switch, where you'll insert your hotel card in it and the air-conditioning and lights will turn on.

Some of the hotels have refrigerator and microwave, this time there is none.  But, I always notice that they have iron and an ironing rack for my crumpled clothes.

So far, I can give a score 8.5 out of 10 for this hotel.

That's all for now... I'll share more of these next time.

Please LIKE my Facebook Page for more updates!

Do you have something to share or recommend?  Please leave your comment below.

08 October 2015

MM2CXPerience: Is it Better to Bring Cash than Demand Draft?

I am happy to inform you that a friend of mine, an MM2C member, had successfully landed in Canada. 

It was April when I shared the good news that he got his PPR in my MM2C News: MM2C Subscriber Got a Very Good News.  He was able to land successfully in Canada and I got lucky to see his photos of Vancouver.

One of his experience that he wants MM2C to know was about the Bank Draft issue.  He brought his settlement funds in a form of a Bank Draft, but got a bad experience about it in TD bank, one of the biggest banks in Canada.

He emailed me what happened and wanted to share it to you as well.
"
Hi Ben,
I made a demand draft from DBS bank, brought to Canada, and deposited it to TD bank in Vancouver.
Today, after waiting for 30 days, the money came to my account.
However, the amount doesn't tally with the amount on the draft, a $100 difference.
Just now, I went to the bank and asked where the $100 had gone?
Only then they explained and gave me the breakdown as follows:
Foreign  Fee       $45Collection Fee     $30Couriers              $25
$100 for me is quite a lot.
Regards,
TTA
There are other options on how to bring the settlement funds to Canada, which I'd mentioned in my previous post Options on How to Bring Your Settlement to Canada.  However,  in my opinion, Cash is the perfect form of Settlement Fund to bring to Canada for the reason of liquidity and free from bank charges.

What do you think?

I hope you've learned something from this experience to help you settle smoothly in CANADA.

If you know or experience something that is worth sharing, please email it at benalagnam@yahoo.com.

#MM2CXperience in Facebook.

29 August 2015

MM2C XPerience: A Fatal Mistake on Reference Letters for FSW Canada

Contributor: DLS

Applying for FSW 2014 was one of the greatest experiences in my life as I did not ever expected that the application would be successful. 

Currently, I’m in the preparation of moving to “Toronto, Ontario”, the land of Ben’s dream.  

Ben is one of my inspirations, and I have learned about how kind he is, as he always shares information to everyone.

The Fatal Mistake on My FSW 2014 Application
I applied for the FSW 2014 from Indonesia on June 2014.  During that time, I tried to follow all instructions that were provided from the CIC website. One of the requirements was to provide a job reference letter that states an additional information, beside the period of employment and position, such as job description, type of employment (permanent or full-time) and the annual salary.

As this format was uncommon for the Human Resources Department in most of the companies in Indonesia, they requested me for the draft (I had more than two employments in the past). So I prepared the draft and sent it to each of the HR Departments. 

However, it seems that most of the HR personnel had just copied my draft, filled-in the job description according to my role, printed, signed and stamped, and handed it to me. I was not aware that it would be a fatal mistake for my FSW application. 

So I sent those reference letters to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), without giving any supporting documents such as employment contract, salary slip or personal income tax report.

I got the Positive Eligibility Review (PER) on September 2014, but then I waited for a few months...and no result. The status in the website had only stated that my application had been received by the Immigration. 

Then, in early January 2015, I was so happy to receive an email from the CIC. But when I started reading it, I was so stressed and disappointed because it mentioned that the Case Officer was not satisfied with all the reference letters that I had provided. 

He said that they all looked similar and suspicious that they might be copying from a single format and needed more explanation with additional proof to show that they were all original. The Visa Office Singapore gave me two months to prove it.

The Solution
Thankfully, my previous bosses were so kind and helpful, that they provided me with a statement letter stating that my reference letter was original.  So I sent it with the employment contracts, salary slips, and personal income tax reports as additional supporting documents (all were certified copies), on early March 2015. 

At the end of March 2015, I was so grateful to receive the request for Medical Examination.

Two Important Tips To Avoid Suspicion
Because of these technical issues, it had delayed my application process by two months. So, what I learned from this case was that:

       1. You could get the same experience as me, as you might not be from an English speaking country.  Your HR Department might not be familiar with the reference letter template. If you have to prepare a draft for the HR, make sure that the format for each company should be different in style, and ensure that it consists of all the required information from the CIC.
       2. Enclose all the supporting documents such as employment contracts, salary slips, and other supporting documents related to your job. Make sure that all of them are certified copies.

By providing these documents completely, there's a chance that would not delay your FSW processing time and would not be suspicious to the Case Officer.

Thank you, everyone! I hope that this experience would be useful for you.

Regards,

DLS

****
Share your stories and experiences with MM2C XPerience.  Your experience means a lot, you can share with us where you're now in your application.  Give some advice and lessons learned during the process.

To be a part of the Me Moving To Canada Experience, "MM2C XPrience (#MM2CXPerience)", you can contact me or share through these media.

1.  Blogger - send me an email to benalagnam@yahoo.com if you are interested to be added as a contributor to this blog.

2.  Facebook - Post your experience on my facebook page (BenAlagnam.com).

3.  Email - send your written experience to benalagnam@yahoo.com, let me know if you want your name and initials published or remain anonymous.

4. #MM2CXPerience - use this hashtag when you post your experiences in Canada.

Helping one another through sharing will make the process of immigrating easier.

I'LL WAIT FOR YOUR MESSAGE!

Will this be helpful to you or other applicants, please tick the LIKE button below.

26 August 2015

Helping Other Applicants: Be An MM2C Contributor

It's been two years since I first wrote my first post, Moving To Canada: A Dream.  At that time, I was not sure if my application will pursue because of my repetitive failures of my previous FSW applications.

Sharing my experiences made me more confident in expressing myself to my readers.  Even though my English was not that good, but at least the thought was there.  

Because of this blog, I know that I helped some people along the way as they themselves kept in touch with me sharing their good news.

It's been a fulfilling part of my life when I had helped people along their way on getting their FSW Visa.

I can feel the anxieties and excitement felt by applicants during the process of their application.  The moment they emailed me that they have received their Visas, me and my world cheered with joy.

I made this post, to let you know that Me Moving To Canada is open for FSW applicants to share their experiences.  Let's share our experience to others and help them succeed and be part of the MM2C community.

Your experience means a lot, you can share with us where you're now in your application.  Give some advice and lessons learned during the process.

To be a part of the Me Moving To Canada Experience, "MM2C XPrience (#MM2CXPerience)", you can contact me or share through these media.

1.  Blogger - send me an email to benalagnam@yahoo.com if you are interested to be added as a contributor to this blog.

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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
Littering
Urinating in lifts
etc...

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...

"I AM IN CANADA!!!" :D

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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    Ben Alagnam - MeMovingToCanada