Lenten Season – A Test of Faith

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Submitted by Dolly Punsalan Castillo for April 2019 Mabuhay newspaper – Higher Story column

 

What will make a worldwide event launch its meaning from the usual mundane practice to a more renewed realization of its essence?

At first, it’s quite a daunting task.  On further analysis, there’s a way to arrive at a simple yet meaningful spiritual practice.  An unexplored practice, yet good enough to shift from the usual known familiar tradition.

At the heart of this redemptive practice is the willingness to forgive and to let go.  As one holy person said, forgiveness is not an emotion, but an act of will.  It takes a very conscious effort to realize that humanity is not perfect and we are all culpable of our weakness and wrongdoing.

This is the prelude to accepting people’s hurtful acts as being in situations where they cannot do otherwise.  It is not condoning sin, but rather the intuitive knowledge that people slide down the slippery road of decadence.

A wise saying goes that people don’t intentionally want their lives screwed up.  Nobody wants that.  It’s just that in everyday living, the precocious balance between right and wrong can at times become skewed and unbalanced.  One good trait is to forgive not only one’s self but the event itself.  This helps prevent the enlargement of the issues beyond their original occurrence.

Here are some gospel excerpts that best express this condition of forgiveness:

Lord, it is tempting and easy to cast a scornful eye on those around us and note every fault.  When my pride tempts me to do so, prompt me to turn the magnifying glass on myself instead.  If I keep in mind how much I need your forgiveness everyday, my love for you will never grow cold.  I know you are willing to forgive each and every fault if I only ask. ……Luke 7 : 47

Forgiveness  includes letting go of the little things.  Choosing to forgive people  – even for the littlest things they do that hurt or annoy us – is vital for enjoying life and love. Luke 6: 37

Father, I need to understand that forgiveness is not dependent on my feelings, bur rather on a determination of my will.  Help me form a few well chosen words of forgiveness.  Amen. Mark 11: 25

Learning to forgive myself of all the mistakes I made and of all the people I hurt was the hardest thing I ever did.  I could forgive them, but myself?  I was too busy beating myself up to see that I deserved the same compassion for myself, that God had for me.  I forgave myself with love and empathy.  It was incredibly healing and opened the door for God’s Spirit to work in me in new and powerful ways. Acts 2:38

Gratitude or thankfulness has been relegated to an innocuous and automatic level and done without much conviction.  This most wonderful value opens a lot of doors leading to unprecedented graces and blessings. Here are some beautiful excerpts from the gospel:

Lord, how precious water is to us, and how parched and desperate we are when it’s in short supply. How grateful we are that you promise to access to the living water that will  never run dry.  Keep us mindful of that refreshing supply today, Lord.  Fill us up for we are thirsty.,  Isaiah 58 :: 11

Taos pusong Salamat sa inyong pagkalinga at pagsubaybay sa aking munting alay sa inyong lahat na galing sa kaibuturan ng aking puso.

 

 

Visitor Visa vs. Super Visa – Which one is right for you?

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The biggest difference between a super visa and a visitor visa is the length of time you are allowed to stay in Canada.

Super visas are a type of Canadian visitor visa that are only available to parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents.  Normally, a visitor visa can be valid for a stay of up to six months. To continue your stay in Canada you need to apply to extend your visa. With a super visa, you may be able to stay in Canada for up to two years at a time without needing to apply for an extension.

The Super Visa is a multi-entry visa that provides multiple entries for a period up to 10 years. The key difference is that the super visa allows an individual to stay for up to two years on each entry into Canada, while a 10-year multiple entry visa would only have a status period for each entry of six months only.

There are also specific requirements that you must meet to be able to get a super visa. To be eligible for the super visa, applicants must be the parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Dependents of parents and grandparents are not eligible for the super visa. However, they can apply for a regular visitor visa. The super visa applicants must also be found admissible to Canada and meet some other conditions such as hold a medical insurance certificate.

Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) must believe the applicant is a genuine visitor to Canada who will leave by choice at the end of the visit. There are considerations the officer may look for:

  • the person’s ties to his or her home country
  • the purpose of the visit
  • the person’s family and financial situation
  • the overall economic and political stability of the home country
  • invitation and financial security from Canadian/Permanent Resident hosts

The parent or grandparent must also do the following:

  • provide a letter promising financial support from their child or grandchild in Canada who has a minimum income and can show supporting documents to prove this;
  • prove he or she has Canadian medical insurance for at least one year to cover the time he or she will be in Canada
  • complete an immigration medical examination.

The super visa application can be considered in two parts, there are requirements on both the Canadian and permanent resident who is inviting and the applicant. Both must meet certain requirements to be considered by the immigration officer.

It is extremely important to prepare such documentation and provide specific supporting documents to ensure a strong application either a visitor visa or the super visa application.

 

Are you considering a super visa or a visitor visa for your family? Contact us directly anytime to set up a free consultation, we’re always here to help. www.FoothillsImmigration.com  / info@foothillsimmigration.com

 

 

 

 

 

Filipino candidates shut out in Provincial election

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Cesar Cala

By Adrian Dayrit

Both Filipino MLA candidates walked away disappointed Tuesday night following the Provincial election, where the United Conservative Party won a majority government.

Filipino candidates from Calgary and Edmonton representing both the NDP and UCP parties experienced disappointment in their first run in provincial politics.

NDP Calgary-East candidate Cesar Cala lost to UCP candidate Peter Singh. As of 11 p.m. on April 16, Cala trailed Singh by 1,200 votes.

Cala stepped in to Calgary East, which was won by former NDP candidate Robyn Luff in the 2015 election. However, Luff was removed from the NDP party in 2018 and sat as an independent. Luff did not run in this election.

“Well, of course, we are disappointed with the result, but it is the decision of the people and I respect that,” he says. “We had a lot of good breakthroughs in our riding and were able to engage new voters.”

Cala recruited family and friends to door-knock and volunteer for his campaign, many of which were first-time volunteers in a political campaign.

“We had a lot of new volunteers, and a lot of walk-in volunteers comprising mostly of young people,” he says. “It was a good experience for all of us.”

Cala says he will continue to be involved in the community.

“When the dust settles, we will use the lessons we learned from this campaign to continue to serve the community,” he says.

Cala campaign volunteer, Simon Bondoc says the election outcome was not a surprise.

“I expected the results and I feel we ran a good campaign,” Bondoc says. “I’m proud to have volunteered for the official opposition.”

In the Edmonton-Glenora, UCP candidate and Filipina Marjorie Newman, lost to the incumbent, former NDP health minister Sarah Hoffman in a landslide vote.

Hoffman took 58 per cent of the vote in that race, winning with more than 5,000 votes over Newman.

The UCP will form a majority government taking 63 ridings, leaving the NDP as the official opposition with 24 seats.

 

Cesar Cala is making history in Alberta’s Provincial Elections

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Cesar Cala

By Edwin Badosa

Cesar Cala is hoping to make history in the upcoming Provincial election.

Cala is the first Filipino candidate to run as Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) in Calgary and Southern Albert, and the first MLA candidate of Filipino descent for Alberta’s New Democratic Party.

He is running for MLA in the Calgary-East riding, known for its diverse population in community like Dover, Erin Woods, Forest Lawn and Penedo.

“For me, this election will set the path for Alberta for years, if not generations, to come,” says Cala.  “I firmly believe and stand for an Alberta that is diverse, prosperous, respectful and inclusive for all – regardless of where we are born, the color of our skin, how we worship, who we love and how much we earn. I want to pursue these values. That is why I decided to run.”

Cala says supporting family, education and the health care system are his priorities.

“I want to support Calgary-East to become a greater place to live, learn, raise a family, make a living and be part of the community,” he says. “I want to ensure that all Albertans benefit from a strong and stable public health system and good schools.” Cesar has worked in community development and in civic engagement at United Way of Calgary and Area and the Calgary Foundation.

More recently, Cala worked as a special advisor for the Government of Alberta, building engagement between ministries and diverse communities.

He co-founded several community-serving organizations, including Sunrise Community Link Resource Centre, the Ethno-Cultural Council of Calgary (now ActionDignity), Children’s Legal and Educational Resource Centre (now named Youth Law), Urban Youth Worx (now part of Antyx), and the Asian Heritage Foundation. He has been recognized for his community service several times, including a Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in 2015, a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, an Immigrant of Distinction Award in 2009 and an Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005.

Cala says he will continue to advocate for the Filipino community.

“I want to see Filipino-Canadians be proud of their heritage, contributing to the province’s future and represented in the province’s civic and political leadership,” he says.

 

He is an organizer of the Philippine Emergency Response Team (PERT) that supports post-disaster rehabilitation efforts in the Philippines and in Alberta. More recently, he helped lead efforts towards the proclamation of Philippine Heritage Month in Alberta, and the organizing of the first Alberta-wide Filipino Leaders Conference in 2018.

Alberta’s Provincial election is April 16.

 

Calgary Teacher Admits to Sex Related Offences

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    A Calgary teacher and music teacher has pleaded guilty to 17 charges in a Calgary courtroom April 4.

    Christian Allen Sarile, 29, admitted to offering girls as young as 12-years-old money, vapes and alcohol in return for sexual favours.

    In a 72-page agreed statement of facts, Sarile admitted to contacting girls between the ages of 12 and 16 through a multitude of social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Ask.fm.

    He extorted nude and pornographic images and videos from young girls online and met some for sexual favours at LRT stations, parking lots and parks. Sarile was 27-years-old at the time.

    Using fake names, like Josh and Brandon, Sarile lured girls promising hundreds of dollars, vapes, clothes, rides and food to get them to meet him and perform sexual acts on him. He also sent some girls pictures of other boys, typically a blonde, blue-eyed teen, to disguise his identity. He told his victims he was between 16 and 19 years old.

    In one case, posing as someone else, he told a victim if she didn’t have sex with Sarile, he’d be beaten up. In another situation, he posed as a teen who was being abused by his step-father.

    In some cases, when Sarile received images or videos from victims, he’d threaten to share them with friends and family unless they sent more.

    Sarile was originally arrested in May 2017 on his way to his teaching job. He was later released and ordered not to possess a smartphone or use the Internet.

    Further police surveillance showed Sarile continued to engage in sexual acts with underage girls and he was using his phone and computer to contact more victims.

    Police officers again arrested Sarile in Dec. 2017 and he was denied bail.

    While Sarile was in the Calgary Remand Centre, more girls came forward and additional charges were laid against him.

    Investigators from the Internet Childhood Exploitation unit found thousands of child pornography images on Sarile’s phone and laptops.

    He pleaded guilty to sexual assault, sexual touching, communication with girls under the age of 16 for the commission of an offence, obtain nude photos and/or videos by threats and making child pornography.

    Sarile is now awaiting sentencing.

    Filipina Running in UCP Edmonton Riding

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    By Marianne Rosal

    In Edmonton, Filipina Marjorie Newman is running in the Edmonton-Glenora riding for the United Conservative Party.

    Newman is a registered immigration consultant with ICCRC. She is involved in her community and various Filipino associations in Edmonton. Influenced by the stories of her fellow entrepreneurs and business owners who were unsatisfied with the way current government policy affected their livelihood, she decided to run for MLA.

    I aim to help reignite the Albertan economy, to represent my Edmonton-Glenora riding and be the voice of the Filipino community in the Alberta legislature,” Newman says.

    As an immigrant, she’s faced many struggles moving to Canada. Like many kababayans, the allure of Alberta’s once-booming industry was a promise for her to better her family’s quality of life.

    She says she is moved and influenced by the stories of the people she meets, people who she hopes to help and people whose lives she can help.

    The Alberta Provincial election is April 16.

     

    Calgarian Wins Award for Miss Empress Universe Pageant

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    Written by: Chelsea Tan

     

    One can say that pageantry is ingrained in Filipino culture. Two Filipinas have been crowned Miss Universe in the last four years.

    Traditional pageants such as Miss Universe come with strict criteria for entrants. They have to be under 28 years old, never been married and never been pregnant or with a child.

    Enter Miss Empress Universe, the first pageant of its kind to welcome participants from different backgrounds and different stages of life.

    Dee Reyes, proud mother of a nine-year-old boy and a commercial portfolio account manager by profession, embarked on a trip in December 2018 to represent the Filipino community and to compete in the Miss Empress Universe finale in Goa, India.

    “Empress Universe has categories for ladies who are married, who are way past their 30’s and for petite ladies like me,” she says.

    Reyes placed the second runner up in the petite category and was named International Fashion Icon for all categories.

    “My title was not a free pass,” she says. “There were about 3,000 applicants initially that went down to 800 contestants around the world.”

    The initial screening for Miss Empress Universe was done online via Skype, videos and phone calls. Reyes competed remotely by submitting videos that showcase her talents and prove her experience in social ethics and community building.

    Reyes has other Filipinas to emulate in the pageantry world. She says she loved seeing Catriona Gray’s win as Miss Universe 2019.

    “She is definitely a good representation of not just our Filipino heritage, but of a truly remarkable woman,” Reyes says. “And I love her slow-mo walk, oh my gosh to die for.”

    She is referring to Catriona Gray’s “Lava” walk which became viral after being showcased in the Miss Universe runway.

    Reyes says for her the most appealing part of competing in pageants is that winners are chosen based on their ability to empower other women and inspire change within the community.

    “It’s about the journey, the character building,” she says. “It’s something you can’t buy or fulfill externally. [Pageantry] boosts you to become the best version of yourself.”

     

     

    Happy Heart Month!

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    Happy Heart month everyone!

    Being only two months into this new year you may be one of the people who’ve already given up on their new years resolution or who are telling themselves that they have LOTS more time to get back on track!

    Whatever side you fall into this equation have no fear. Let me be the first to tell you ‘It’s OKAY!’

    When it comes to eating properly, it isn’t a matter of restricting but knowing!  What I mean is there is no better way of understanding what you’re eating and what ingredients are going into your food than cooking your own food! Don’t worry, the recipes I will be sharing with you today are very simple and straightforward, but I’ll get into that later!

    February is officially Heart Month. Not only is it a month filled with love and romance, but it also one of the shortest months in the year. So, what better month to try a new challenge than this month!  Growing up in a busy Filipino household, one thing I could always count on was that my parents always had food ready to reheat and eat at a moment’s notice!

    As I grew up and I began my journey into culinary and meal prep, I learned to appreciate how much time this saves you through the week! If meal prep or cooking your food ahead of time Is not your forte or a priority, don’t stress because there are companies in and around the city that’s will to do the process for you and it’s then as simple as popping the food in the microwave to reheat! At least you know if you go through any one of these companies your getting whole ingredients, some even deliver through the week to help optimize freshness!

    In honour of Heart Month I’ve brought you two simple, yet favorite dishes of mine! They are heart Conscious and packed with the nutrients and flavour your body wants and your flavour receptors will thank you for!

    Side note with these recipes you can also use a slow cooker and have the hassle cut in half!

     

    Hearty Vegetarian Chili

    Serving: 4 Large portions or 6 small portions

    Ingredients

    2 Medium Red Peppers Medium, diced

    1/2 Medium Red Onion, diced

    1 Small/Medium Carrot, chopped (bite sized)

    3 Celery Stems, chopped (bite sized)

    1 Can Pinto Beans

    1 Can Black Beans

    1 Can Diced Tomatoes

    5 Tbs Lime juice

    5 Tbs Chili Powder

    2 Tbs Cumin

    2 Tb paprika

    3 Bay Leaves (dried)

    1 Cup Cooked Rice (white or brown)

    2 Tbs Canola Oil

    Salt & Pepper to Taste

    ½ Bunch of Cilantro, chopped (garnish)

     

    Optional Ingredients

    1 Tbs of Sour Cream

    Shredded Cheese (garnish)

     

    Procedure:

    • Strain the Beans (Pinto and Black Beans) and place in a container on the side
    • In a medium to large pot sauté the veggies at medium to high heat with canola oil
    • Once veggies are halfway cooked, add the spices, be sure to let the spice’s aromas really come out and mix into the veggies.
    • When veggies have been coated with the spices, add the pinto beans, black beans and diced tomatoes. Be sure to drain half the liquid in the can of diced tomato, as the moisture from the veggies adds a lot of water to the chili.
    • Add the dried bay leaves and lime juice to the chili and let it come up to a boil
    • Once chili begins to boil lower the heat and bring it to a simmer, let the chili simmer for roughly 30 mins
    • Add the rice to the chili and let it simmer for another 15-30 mins. Be sure to mix your pot and make sure the bottom of the pot does not burn
    • Once the chili thickens up from the rice, garnish with cilantro and any optional garnishes. Don’t forget to remove dried bay leaves prior to serving, feel free to have this chili with your favorite scones or bread!
    • The great thing about chilli, just like Filipino adobo, is it gets better the longer it sits. So the chili you taste today will taste completely different from the chili that you taste later on in the week. This is due to the spices coming out and infusing more flavour into the chili.

    *** Side note: If you are using a slow cooker, add all ingredients to the pot and set it to high heat for four hours and enjoy. Be sure to check on it after three hours and if it has the consistency you want feel free to turn it off! ***

     

    Creamy Dairy-Free Alfredo

    Serving: 6 Servings

    600 ml of Coconut Milk

    150 ml of chicken stock (or broth)

    6 Tbs of Nutritional Yeast (can be found in organic section of your grocery store)

    2-3 Garlic Cloves, minced

    6 Tbs of All-purpose flour (use gluten-free flour if you want this recipe to be gluten free)

    240 grams of dried spaghetti (use gluten-free spaghetti if you want this recipe to be gluten free)

    Salt and Pepper to Taste

    1 Tbs of Canola Oil

    Optional Proteins to add:

    3.5 oz of Salmon

    Or

    3.5 oz of Chicken breast or thigh

    Or

    4-5 medium to large shrimp pieces

    Procedure:

    • Sauté the garlic cloves in canola oil
    • Add chicken broth and wait for it to come to a boil
    • Once boiling, add the coconut milk and stir in the nutritional yeast
    • Let it come to a boil and lower the heat to simmer for 15-20 mins
    • In a separate pot, add water and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling add salt to water and place spaghetti noodles in boiling water. Let it cook for roughly 15 mins or to al dente (meaning the noodle is just under cooked. This will add a nice texture to your pasta and make it a little chewy.
    • Once sauce is simmering, make a flour slurry. This is done by adding cold water to the all-purpose flour in a separate bowl or cup and slowly adding this mixture into your sauce. This will help thicken your sauce and help it latch onto the spaghetti noodles.
    • Your sauce should be at the right consistency, but if not feel free to play around. If you want it thinner add more chicken stock and if you want it thicker make more flour slurry and add it into your sauce. It’s important to note that the flour does take time to thicken up the sauce as opposed to cornstarch, so be patient and give the flour some time to cook before adding more flour slurry.
    • Combine spaghetti noodles and sauce together. Cook your favorite choice of protein and serve! Here I added salmon and chicken into mine, but this is where you can be as creative as you want!

     

    *** Side note: if you have a slow cooker add all ingredients, except the noodles into the pot and give it a good stir with a whisk.  Set it for two hours on high heat. Boil the pasta in a separate pot and don’t forget to cook your favorite protein and set them to the side. Once the sauce is done you can add the noodles to the slow cooker pot and serve with your protein choice on top! ***

     

    Happy Heart Month! I hope you enjoyed those recipes and if you love the idea of meal prep ahead of time, but don’t want the hassle of cooking, feel free to check out companies like The Fit Bar who provide this service and deliver all across the city! Check them out here at https://thefitbar.ca/

     

    Michael Juarez Bio

    Chef Michael Siapno Juarez is known to many as a jack of all trades. He is the executive chef for The Fit Bar in Calgary. If he’s not busy in the kitchen making health-conscious food that is not only nutritious but also packed with flavour, you may find him helping you sell your home or buy your next one!  Or you might find him onstage as an emcee for one of the largest Filipino Fiestas in Alberta, Fiesta Filipino, or the many events held by the PFCA!

     

     

    Fun Page

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    AWAKENING THE NOBLE CALLING OF A TEACHER IN ALL OF US

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    Dolly Punsalan Castillo

     

    We always hear about the unwavering belief and acknowledgement of teaching as a noble profession. This is what precipitated my deeper examination of this concept.

    The title preambles where I want this topic to progress. It’s not the formal schooling or academic certification of the profession I refer to. I believe in the innate desire of each decent, well-intended person to share, to advice, to counsel out of their experiences that which benefits others.

    It’s at times, a kneejerk reaction to offer one’s peace of mind to a situation. Behind it, all is the desire to help fellow beings find their way in this sometimes confusing world.

    It’s fascinating to hear and see such people react, be it in a subtle form or to the point of being perceived as meddling.

    If moderate teaching is offered to help and enlighten and not to pose as self-righteous on the part of the informal teacher, it should be taken as helpful.

    Another aspect of this topic is a gospel excerpt that admonishes people to remember a moral obligation. This is to speak up when something blatantly wrong or unethical comes up. For self-survival, most people choose to be quiet on the sidelines. For a legitimate cause, they could be unsure of the process and don’t want to risk the fear of rejection.

    However, if one’s own sense of fairness or even justice intuitively goads them to say their piece, then do so. Only with practice, can this skill of voicing out, earn it laurels and positive effects.

    It’s sad to join the bandwagon of silent timid people who live life unencumbered, uninvolved, and unaffected. However, there can be enough bold people who can stir the pot and lead the majority to an awakened state of vigilance.

    We are fortunate to be in a country that champions freedom of speech. To hear the voice of the grassroots masses through bold leaders who risk being misunderstood, ignored, or rejected is worth the forward step. It’s the noble calling of a teacher, be it in a formal or informal sense, to put the word out there.

    Nothing ventured, nothing gained. A word of caution to the over enthusiastic teachers : always remember to uplift rather than put down, always say it with the purpose of letting people grow and develop their character and outlook, always present the new lesson as a possible option that might be adopted or not, and lastly from a place of love as a service to fellow human beings.

    Buwan po ng mga puso, pag – ibig, at pagmamahal. Kung paano po ito naipapakita at naipapadama ay di lang sa buwan at araw na ito. Kahimanawari, ay sa buong taon at buhay. Nagbabago na rin po ang mukha ng pag -ibig. Ang ibig lang pong sabihin ay hindi lang ang tradisyonal na pagpapakita at pagpapatunay ng pagmamahal ang namamayani. Exciting at makahulugan din ang modernong pananaw na nirerespeto ang kabuuan ng bawa’t isa – independent, bold, intelligent, respectful at grateful sa pagtatagpo at pakakakilala ng baw’t isa sa makahulugan na relasyon. Namamayani po ang kapakanan ng bawa’t isa na walang pag -iimbot at pansariling intensyon. Sana po ay maranasan natin ang bagong mukha at pananaw ng pag -ibig at  pagmamahal na mas naaayon sa utos ng Poong Maykapal.

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