Feature: Travails and joys of a Filipina OFW in Calgary
Tacloban City (April 29) -- The afternoon sun cuts through the chilly Calgary air and casts light through the glass walls, as Filipina cook, Fely Romero took a short breather from the kitchen of the Shifters, to accommodate this short overseas interview.
The enthusiastic and vibrant young voice which answered the phone gave it all. It was a very much welcomed interview because as 39 year old Fely exclaimed, it is always good to talk to a fellow Filipina and speak in the country's national language. It never fails to ease the pain of being away from home sweet home.
Filipina cook Fely Romero in Calgary (PIA-8)
Indeed, for a wife and a mother like Fely, leaving three beautiful and doting sons ages 2, 10 and 13, is not that easy. Her only consolation is that she left her children under the able and loving care of her mother in law in Cavite. Besides, she is able to talk to her husband and children every day through the telephone.
Moreover, her husband who used to work as cook in a cruise ship, is now with the children, awaiting for his deployment as cook in Calgary by the same company, Exultant Human Resource Canada, which deployed her to Canada. For now, she is eagerly looking forward to the day when her husband will be with her in Calgary.
Fely is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from one of the universities in Manila. After graduation, she saw an ad for job openings in a classy hotel in Manila, so she applied. Unfortunately, however, because she is among the late applicants, the only job available was that of a door opener.
As a fresh graduate with no work experience then, Fely said she didn't think twice and accepted the job right away. For 14 years, she worked in the same hotel rising from the ranks. From being a door opener, she was promoted as a reservations clerk, secretary to the executive chef and later, she was appointed as cook, the position she really wanted.
To the Filipino fresh graduates, Fely has only one advice to give, for them not to be so choosy in getting their first job. Even if it is not in line with the course they took for as long as it is decent, grab it as a stepping stone towards the job they are eyeing for, Fely said.
When Fely learned about the job opening in Calgary, she applied at Skyworld, the business intermediary of Exultant in the Philippines. Fortunately, Fely was accepted but then she had to face the problem of more than P200,000, for her placement fee, round trip ticket to Calgary in Alberta, Canada.
While her other companions borrowed from financing companies, Fely was able to borrow the money needed, from her brother. She was among the 30 Filipino cooks who were deployed to Calgary in February.
Fely is now receiving a salary triple times more than what she was receiving in her previous employment. With that, she is able to pay her brother, send money for her children's schooling and for her mother-in-law.
At Shifters, Fely is able to show the ingenuity of a Filipino cook. She said that employers in Canada have high regards for Filipino workers who are known for their diligence, industry and trustworthiness.
The working condition at Shifters is good and the relationship of the staff is very cordial and so she and her fellow Filipino cooks enjoy their jobs. Besides, her agency, the Exultant has been very supportive, Fely intimated.
The Filipino Community in Calgary, a very cohesive group, has been supportive to the Filipino cooks, too, Fely bared, giving them food, clothing and seeing to it that they are able to adjust in their new environment.
Indeed, working abroad is not that easy at all. The Filipino Overseas Worker has to make sacrifices and suffer homesickness in exchange for a better economic condition for her family especially her children. Every single cent sent to the family in the Philippines is hard-earned, standing 8 hours a day in front of the stove and missing the love ones 24 hours a day.
Importing workers from the Philippines will answer the void left open by the insatiable demands on the human resource market, Mr. Leo Casuga of Exultant Human Resources of Canada, who arranged for the interview informed.
There are thousands of jobs needed to be filled and there's nobody in Canada available to do the job. Filipinos are regarded as strong and solid, trustworthy, highly motivated, educated and acclimatized overseas workforce are very much welcomed in Canada, Mr. Casuga who moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada when he was 17, said.
In 2006, documented OFW employment to Canada grew from 3,629 to 6,413, This means an increase of 2,784, making Canada the 17th top destination of Overseas Filipino Workers among more than 180 host countries worldwide.
The initial growth in OFW deployment to Canada is attributed to the recent accord forged by the Department of Labor and Employment with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Employment in Saskatchewan for "Cooperation in the Fields of Labor, Employment, and Human Resource Development." (PIA 8) [top]