Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 10, 2003
Filipinos take advocacy to hear
Ethnic community advances its people's potential
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"Men are segregated into janitorial and cleaning positions while women are relegated to childcare and household work."
- Edith Dimaculangan
Dimaculangan also speaks of an extreme degree of occupational segregation affecting the Filipino community. "Men are segregated into janitorial and cleaning positions while women are relegated to childcare and household work," she said. "Many are stuck in those jobs without any hope."
She also cited studies that identify Filipinos as one of five ethnic groups with the highest rate of poverty among visible minority groups in major Canadian cities.
Coming from a country that doesn't provide many social services to its citizens, Filipinos generally don't access community or governmental resources, thus depriving themselves of opportunities. "Many don't know what's available," Dimaculangan said. Others hold two or three jobs and are simply too busy and too tired to do anything else.
Filipinos who immigrated to Canada in the 1960s and 1970s could easily find jobs in their own professions. But most Filipinos who have immigrated in the last two decades have come to work as nannies for middle and upper class Canadians, noted Dimaculangan. They must work for at least two years for their original employer before they can apply for landed-immigrant status.
A nanny makes an average of $1,600 a month before deductions. They send most of their income back home to support their children.
Once they become landed immigrants, the first thing on their minds is to save enough to bring their families to Canada. To make that happen, they end up holding two or three jobs and don't have time and energy for much else, lamented Dimaculangan.
Bay-ag began teaching high school in Nueva Vizcaya soon after graduation, but was forced to quit after a few months because her teaching salary was too low. She worked as a nutrition coordinator for a municipal government for a few years and then decided to work overseas to make more money.
After working in Hong Kong as a nanny for six years, Bay-ag landed a similar job in Canada. She came to Edmonton in 1995 and served as a care giver for an older woman for almost two years. She couldn't complete the required 24-months service with her employer due to health problems.
In 2000, after she obtained her landed immigrant status, she took a short course as a residential health worker and began taking care of elderly people with disabilities. She has held two or three jobs ever since.
Thanks to Dimaculangan, who assisted with lawyers and immigration hearings, now Bay-ag's daughter's application is being reprocessed.
"I'm very positive that this organization will be able to help people improve their lives," Bay-ag said of the new Filipino Society for Growth and Change.
The organization will be fully operational by April, but work has already begun. Dimaculangan already has various Filipino professionals - lawyers, teachers, doctors, nurses and engineers - working with newly arrived professionals to help them revalidate their titles. She feels if professional newcomers are left on their own they will most likely end up doing menial jobs that don't reflect their talents.
There are at least 30 different Filipino organizations in Edmonton and the intent is to gather the expertise available in each of them to improve the Filipino lot, Dimaculangan said. For example, newcomers who need help with English as a second language will be referred to societies that offer that program.
The society, with offices at 10867-97 St., will also provide help with educational upgrading, foreign accreditations, funding applications, employment opportunities and free income tax preparation for low-income families.
"We are trying to create a thriving, cohesive and progressive Filipino community through leadership building, access to services and resources, education, networking and advocacy," Dimaculangan said.
For more information, contact Edith Dimaculangan at 456-7054. The society's e-mail is FS4GC@hotmail.com
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