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Immigrant Story: Undergrad High School to Canada? No Problem!


Not everyone is lucky enough to get a college degree. Since education is one of the considerations in the Comprehensive Ranking System for Canada, a lot might have already been discouraged to even try to apply. Well, no one should be discouraged. Do not worry if you just have your High School Diploma, you will still be able to come to Canada!

Can’t believe it? Read on to know Anna’s story, a journey of a girl from Batangas to Canada.

(This is a transcription of an interview, originally in Tagalog, translated to English.)

#Jonats: Can you tell us about yourself?

Anna: I’m Anna, born and raised in Batangas, Philippines. I was once a little girl full of hope and dreams. Back in elementary, I was a consistent honor student. Unfortunately, at the of 12, my father passed away. It was a difficult time because my mother was left with 5 kids.

It couldn’t be helped. I had to drop out of school in order to help out. Sadly, our family was separated. My mother left for Manila to work as a house helper while my siblings and I had to do our own things in order to survive.

#Jonats What were the jobs you had?

Anna: I began working at the market where I earned Php30 per day from 5am-6pm. I lived off that job to pay for my food and the roof above my head.

I also tried my luck in Manila. I worked at an eatery or carinderia as an all-around helper, from dish washing to shopping at the market. There were times I did not get paid but it was fine since I still get free food.

One day, a cousin of mine called me regarding a job in Bulacan. The job was to take care of an elderly which was basically doing everything from cooking and feeding to hair cutting. I was paid Php300 per week. It wasn’t much but I considered myself lucky because I consider that as my huge break that gave me great opportunities. They gave me the chance to finish my High School education. I was a working student, half day in school and the rest of the day I was working. I remember being the oldest in the classroom because I was 15 when I started my first year in High School. Luckily, I look young for my age. HAHA

A year into the job, the elderly died. That was when I thought maybe studying is not really for me because I had to stop again.

#Jonats: Talk about tough luck. What happened next?

Anna: I went back to Batangas to look for a new job. I heard there was an opening at David’s Salon. At 17, I could not get a legitimate job yet so I had to make a strategy. I applied for the job stating an older age. It was basically misrepresentation but that is a big no-no when applying to CIC. I took the Salon’s leniency to my advantage since it was in the province, I guess. I was more than willing to be assigned anywhere so I got the job!

#Jonats Go on.

Anna: I was a trainee in the Salon for several months. I was earning Php50 per day until I became a regular employee. I thought of going back to school but with the work schedule, it was hard. Seven years later, I became a Senior Stylist in Tarlac City.

#Jonats: When did you decide to try your luck abroad?

Anna: When I became a Senior Stylist, I became more confident. I sent my application online at workabroad.com.ph. I had free internet at the salon. The first offer I received was from Dubai, Php30,000/month. That would be a huge jump from what I was earning at the Salon. Although, I was hesitant because of the things you hear that happen in the Middle East.

#Jonats: That would’ve been a good opportunity. Then, what happened?

Anna: I started to see posts on Social Media about my friends’ lives outside of the Philippines. I saw a friend’s house in Canada and it was a really nice house. That became an inspiration to me. I tried applying for a job in Canada. With beginner’s luck, I got an interview right away!

#Jonats: How did the interview go?

Anna: It was a practical interview held in Manila. They gave me 30 minutes to do a haircut in front of the panel. I actually had to find a bum in Ortigas to agree on a free random haircut. HAHA

#Jonats: What was going through your head during the interview?

Anna: I was actually confident because I have 9 years of experience in my belt. I was just worried they would ask what my college degree was. I just knew I had to be honest. No way would I commit misrepresentation again. The interview room was air conditioned but I was sweating in anxiety. I did not get the results right away but I was feeling hopeful. After a year and a half of waiting, I got my Work Permit.

#Jonats: Can you tell us your first impression of Canada?

Anna: I landed in Canada in February of 2013. It was winter time so it was really cold! I only had $200 for my pocket money. It wasn’t as different from the Philippines for me because hair is still hair! Whether it’s on a Canadian or a Pinoy, it’s still hair. HAHA

#Jonats: What were your worries back then?

Anna: I was really worried about the 4in-4out policy then. I had to become a Permanent Resident within that range. I was also worried about my credentials since I only reached first year high school. Good thing the requirements only needed certain certifications for me to get everything processed. You can only imagine how stressed I was then. I just got my Permanent Residenct status this June 2017 under the Provincial Nominee Program of Alberta. YAY!

#Jonats: Congratulations! I guess we got so excited. Can you tell us more about your experience in Canada so far?

A: Oh! I can start with my Winter Experience. Back in 2013, I was able to experience the -40C. I was waiting for the bus for an hour and all I could think about was that I would go back to the Philippines if it will always be this cold. Back then, I do not have enough money to buy proper garments for -40C. HAHA

#Jonats: You’re funny! Now, you can afford Canada Goose items. How about your experience with your fellow Pinoys?

Anna: As usual, Pinoys are naturally friendly and nice. However, I had a bad experience which I didn’t want to share initially but just for the awareness of many I decided to share it. I knew this Pinoy and he availed a loan which he needed me to be the guarantor. I was confident about the person so I agreed. To my surprise, he defaulted on his loan without notice whatsoever. I couldn’t believe he would do that here in Canada. I swear I could’ve buried him under the snow but what can I do? I just had to pay for it and now it’s over.

#Jonats: Thank you very much for sharing. Not everyone would be willing to but who/what encouraged you share your story to the community?

Anna: I have been a member of the #pinoycanada group for a while now and I have always been the silent reader. I have seen so many posts abouts their worries because they only have a High School Diploma. When Admin Jo invited me for an interview, I did not hesitate anymore because I know my experience can help others. It is true that education is a treasure and having a degree can be an advantage if you plan on applying for Canada. However, if you weren’t one of the lucky ones who were able to get the complete education, do not fret and do not get discouraged. There are opportunities out there for people with a degree and for people who without, it is just a matter of finding those opportunities and grabbing them. It starts with the question, “How to apply?” Waiting for and reading the answers is the crucial part. If you are willing to ask the question, you should be willing to take and accept the answers because a lot of people in this community have their own experiences and will be willing to help.

I salute the admins of the group and if I were to give them a rating in stars, I’ll definitely award them with 10 stars!

If you have questions, we got answers! Join the Facebook group to get access to the lively discussions about everything you need to know as you migrate/settle in Canada. Everyone’s welcome to join!

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