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Immigrant Story: From a Nanny to Mother of all Nannies



Name: Judith Gonzales

Career: Radio Host-Pinoy Dreams  TV, Host-Mangarap Ka, PinoyTV- Station Manager,  Fil-core-Support Group-Founder

Years in Canada: 14 years

Province: Odiongan, Romblon

Q. What education did you receive in the Philippines and what was your career outlook there?

A. I graduated with a Bachelors of  Science in Business Administration. Back home I worked many odd jobs to support my family. I was an educator, business owner and an office worker.

Q. Why did you decide to leave the Philippines and what made you choose Canada?

A. When I came to Canada my only intention was to find a career that could sustain the lives of my children. Although my husband at the time and I had already established our own careers back home, it was not the life I wanted for my children. I wanted more for them. I saw the potential each of them had and I believed that they could do great things with their lives, they just needed the right environment to allow them to flourish. I knew Canada would be the best place for me to go. For one reason, my ex-husband had family in Canada who were willing to sponsor me. Additionally, I knew Canada had its reputation to be a multi-cultural community which would eventually become a great place for my children to grow up in.

Q. What was your first impression of Canada and what happened to your career here?

A. As expected with anyone who comes to a foreign country, I suffered a bit of culture shock and home sickness. I missed my family back home and my children. It was an odd experience having to leave a life you’ve worked hard for and start all over again but I knew it would be worth it in the long run. Canada was a beautiful country and even more beautiful now. I noticed the little differences within the community too, how much closer you can be with your neighbors in the Philippines, not that it wasn’t possible here too, but I always did miss that sense of family back home.

I first started off as a nanny for my sister in-law; taking care of her two sons. I worked for them for a few months and then to a new employer still as a nanny. Eventually I was able to get a job as an book keeper  for a previous employer who became like a second family to me after a period of time I was offered a position as an office manager but I declined because I wanted to go back to school. I enrolled in a community service worker diploma program and three months before my graduation I was hired as an educational director of an employment agency. I worked for two years and was then hired as a marketing coordinator for Nurses Education Inc. and eventually became the vice president for corporate marketing. Continuing on I worked multiple jobs varying in different fields. I got in to book keeping, endorsement, and lately I have gotten in to radio talk shows, television producing as well as working with large private career colleges as a student recruitment specialist both locally and internationally.

Aside from my various career I also founded a care-giver support with alongside other nannies who felt the need for a group that can help nannies settle in Canada and have something all new migrants can come to for support. It started back in 2003 with the name Fil-core support group which is a non profit organization made by caregivers for caregivers. Working together we are able to hold fund raising events to raise money for various causes. Our most well-known fundraising event is the Ms Caregiver Pageant which is held annually to raise money.

Q. What were the obstacles you had to face in the Canada and how did you overcome them?

A. Being new to Canada, my biggest obstacle was having to restart my life all over again and to build a career for myself. However, over time I was able to get used to the Canadian lifestyle and once again establish a new life. Another obstacle that came with this was learning how to start from the beginning again. Going from a respected educator, to a nanny which, often times, is a career that does not get the respect it deserve was hard for me to get used to. Becoming a nanny and experiencing the struggles they go through from a day to day basis was also what pushed me to create Fil-core.  As well, I was incredibly homesick at times, missing my children, my family and all of my friends. It was rare that I got to visit them so it was hard for me to get over being homesick. I wrote letters and called from time to time when I couldn’t visit but it was just not the same. I used that same longing feeling to plan to bring my family here to Canada so that we could all be together again. Over the span on 14 years, I was able to bring over 20 of my closest relatives including my children and ex-husband.

Q. What are the most notable differences between the Philippines and Canada?

A. Coming from the province and growing up in the a community where everyone knew each other and material objects we not as important, it was definitely new to me to come to Canada and not have the same sense of community within my own neighbourhood. In Canada everyone is so busy with work, it’s a fast paced environment where time is money and money is everything. Meanwhile, the province was a much more calmed environment; it was peaceful. Although it is definitely possible for a Canadian lifestyle to be peaceful, I still believe that there is something special about waking up in the morning and breathing in the fresh mountain air and go on about your day without worrying that you are wasting your time; still, you worked hard and diligently.

Q. Are you still connected to the Philippines in some way? (Expand answer)

A. I still have a lot of family members who live in the Philippines and I try to stay in touch with them as much as possible. Although my mother has passed, my father and most of my siblings as well as my nieces and nephews all still live back home. Early this year I got the chance to go back and visit my relatives and do some business as well. As much as I can, I try to send money or provide any possible help I can to my family. Often times I wish that I could be there with them to help them in person but I know that they are strong enough to be able to handle themselves, still, I always send them my help as well as my love.

Leading a   very strong  and united organization, Fil-core Support group, gave me an opportunity to continuously help Kababayans in the Philippines. We help school children, victims of typhoons, create livelihood for people and other projects have paved the way and never loose my interest in helping Filipinos back home.

 Q. Where do you feel “at home”? 

Although the Philippines holds a special place in my heart and my memories, I believe that home is where the heart is and my heart belongs to my family. When I first came to Canada I very badly wanted to go back home, I kept saying it was because I was not comfortable here but as I came to realize, it was purely because my children held a piece of my heart and it just did not feel the same to not bring that piece of me to a foreign country. However, when I brought them here, Canada started feeling like home again, like it was where I belonged. I was so proud of how far I’ve come and what I had done to help benefit my community. I was also happy to make my children proud as well.

I feel home every time, I made a difference to each Filipino temporary foreign worker that I helped with, I feel  at home for smiles  I get back from caregivers I advocated for,  for women who were transformed to become leaders through my mentorship, I feel  at home even to this  very diversified country which make Filipinos find their best! I feel at home in Canada where I am able to bring the best of who I am as Filipino.

A. What do you miss about the Philippines?

I miss a lot about the Philippines, certainly the people, my siblings whom I am very close to, my father, and my childhood friends. I also miss the environment itself, it was a much simpler life in the Philippines and everything seemed more peaceful. I miss the smell of fresh province air in the morning and being able to tend to farming or gardening when the sun is just rising. Another thing I miss is the authenticity of the food. Filipino food here in Canada is good but nothing can compare to something made from home.



About Jonats Miguel

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