Race to apply for parent sponsorship left some thrilled, others in the dust


By Darlene Casten

Twenty thousand spots for parent/grandparent sponsorship were snapped up in just over 10 minutes at the end of January, leaving many people disappointed and others with hope.

Maria Deeroque hired an immigration consultant to handle her mother’s immigration and was overjoyed to hear they were able to get the application in within the few minutes the program was open.

“I’m super, super happy about that,” she says.

Her 72-year-old mother has been in Canada since 2015 on a tourist visa that will expire in spring 2020.

“She’s only in the Philippines by herself,” Deeroque says. “She likes it in Canada.

I like her to be with me. She’s enjoying my daughter. She doesn’t want to go back to the Philippines.”

Deeroque says she knows they are fortunate her mother’s application was submitted in time.

“I’ve got an auntie here, my cousin’s mother, but she didn’t get in,” she says.

Immigration consultant and Foothills Immigration Group owner, Leann Iamartino, handled Deeroque’s application. She says they carefully vetted potential parent/grandparent applicants ahead of time.

“We gave people a free assessment,” Iamartino says, explaining they wanted to make sure anyone they submitted an application for fit all the government’s criteria.

The short cut off for applications was predictable, she says, and they wanted to make sure they were able to input all of their client’s applications.

“I knew that was going to happen,” she says. “Our prediction was less than 15 minutes.”

Iamartino had six computers with staff to input the applications as soon as the program opened and says they were able to enter an application in about a minute-and-half.

“We were typing so fast, it was crazy,” she says.

Foothills Immigration Group had seven clients, all Filipinos, seeking parent/grandparent sponsorship. She says it is unfortunate that some people were not able to submit their application in time.

“I don’t agree with it,” she says. “I don’t think it’s fair.”

Allowing people several days to input their information and then having a combination of first come first served and a random draw makes more sense, she says.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada spokesperson, Mathieu Genest, says in an email that the first come first served process was initiated based on feedback.

“After extensive consultations and hearing directly from Canadians across the country, we implemented this first come first serve online system to ensure it was fair and created safeguards to ensure the system is not abused,” he writes. “We are dedicated to getting the application process right. We have taken the time to listen to and address concerns from clients and stakeholders about the previous random selection process, and that is why we introduced a first-in-first-served approach for 2019.”

The next step is the government will extend invitations to apply to the parent/grandparent program for those who were able to submit the initial application.

The processing time for the parent/grandparent program is up to two years.



One milion newcomers by 2021

Immigration columnist, Leann Iamartino

Canada’s Express Entry system had an incredible year in 2018 and 2019 could be even more outstanding. Canada is pledging to welcome over ONE MILLION newcomers by 2021.
Express Entry, manages the pool of candidates for Canada’s three Federal High Skilled immigration programs: Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trades. These streams issued a record 89,800 invitations to apply for Canadian permanent residence in 2018.
The admission target is set to increase in 2019 by 6,500. It will rise again in 2020, by another 4,400.

2019: Bigger draws? More draws?
If Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is to issue more Invitation to Apply (ITAs) in 2019, draw sizes will need to increase, or IRCC will have to hold more draws more frequently than the current interval between draws, which is typically every two weeks.
Over the past 12 months, IRCC established a pattern of increasing draw sizes that began at 2,750 ITAs at the start of the year and were then increased by increments of 250 or 500 ITAs every two to three months to a peak size of 3,900 ITAs. This size then remained largely stable between Sept. 5 and the last draw of 2018 on Dec. 19.

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Growth for 2019
Express Entry PNP has also increased the number of candidates with a provincial nomination. Each Canadian province operates their own immigration programs and interested applicants can pick from many streams at once. Each PNP is particular to what jobs are most needed in their province.

Eleven Canadian provinces participate in Canada’s Provincial Nomination Program (PNP), which they use to nominate a set number of economic immigrants for Canadian permanent residence each year. Some of these allowances are assigned for ‘enriched’ provincial programs that nominate candidates through the Express Entry system. Alberta joined this program in 2018 and is expected to grow further in 2019 with more nomination invitations.

When you are selected by a province within the Express Entry pool, the result is the Express Entry candidate receives an additional 600 points towards their overall Express Entry ranking score, essentially guaranteeing an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence.

Express Entry PNP is expected to increase to 6,000 additional admissions for 2019.

The PNP target will rise again in 2020 and 2021, when admissions through Canada’s PNP are expected to reach 71,300 — an increase of nearly 30 per cent over 2018’s target of 55,000.

Are you qualified for Permanent Residency? Contact us directly anytime to set up a free consultation. We’re always here to help. www.FoothillsImmigration.com / info@foothillsimmigration.com

Written by:

Leann Iamartino; Senior Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant; Commissioner of Oaths
Foothills Immigration Inc.

Filipino language curriculum being developed for Alberta schools


    By Quay Evano

    The Alberta government announced the development of a K-12 Filipino language and culture curriculum during a meeting with Premier Rachel Notley and Filipino community leaders on Feb. 1 in Calgary.

    “The Filipino community has brought essential skills to our workforce and added so much to our social fabric,” Notley says. “Creating a K-12 Filipino language and culture curriculum will ensure this vibrant community can continue to grow.”

    Education Minister David Eggen says adding languages to Alberta’s school curriculum can have positive spin-offs.

    “Providing learning opportunities for students in a variety of language programs helps youth maintain their heritage, strengthen their cultural identity and build language and literacy skills,” Eggen says. “Strengthening language programs based on local need and demand can be an effective tool in addressing racism. In fact, this is one of the ways we’re acting on the feedback we heard, and commitments we made, in our government’s anti-racism consultations and report.”

    Filipino community leaders lobbied for the inclusion of the Filipino language and culture in the Alberta school program.

    Last year, the Alberta government declared June Philippine Heritage Month after receiving a petition signed by Filipinos from all over the province.

    At present, there are around 170,000 people of Filipino heritage in Alberta and is considered the largest and fastest-growing community in the province.

    Filipino culture and language teacher, Dolly Castillo, says this move by the government is another historic gift by the Alberta leaders to the Filipino-Canadian community.

    “This strongly demonstrates the respect for a culture’s diversity and uniqueness through its language,” she says. “Programs like this in still pride in students and their heritage and results in active and engaged citizens.”

    The Philippine Consulate in Calgary welcomes the Alberta government’s announcement.

    “That the expansion of the teaching of the Filipino curriculum at Alberta schools would open many opportunities to generate a deeper involvement of the Filipino community and ensure that generations of young Filipinos will continue to learn and appreciate their rich culture and unique identity,” the consulate stated. “This move will be a source of pride to the Filipino community. It will inspire them to become more productive and responsible members of the Alberta community. The Philippine Consulate General in Calgary encourages the Filipino community across Alberta to actively engage the local authorities regarding the introduction next year of the K-12 Filipino curriculum within the school districts where there are large Filipino student populations.”

    Since 1996 the Philippine Cultural Center Foundation has been teaching Filipino language and culture in Calgary.

    Classes are held Sundays from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

    According to the group’s website, “The PCCF, together with Alberta Education, Calgary Catholic School Board, Edmonton Catholic School Board, and Filipino Canadian Saranay Association of Edmonton and have developed a three- year curriculum that allows students to learn Filipino language and culture.

    Accredited Filipino language and courses are being offered to high school students as optional subjects. Non-accredited students are grouped according to age and knowledge of the Filipino language. Instruction time depends on the age level. An additional adult class is also provided for interested mature students.



    Filipino-Canadian Accepts NDP Nomination for Calgary-East

    Cesar Cala

    By Adrian Dayrit

    A Filipino Calgarian will be running for the New Democratic Party (NDP) in the upcoming Alberta election.

    Cesar Cala, a long-time resident of Calgary has accepted the nomination from the NDP to run for Calgary-East.

    It is currently held by independent Robyn Luff who was removed from the NDP caucus in November 2018.

    Calgary-East includes the following neighbourhoods: Abbeydale, Applewood, Penbrooke Meadows, Erin Woods, Forest Heights, Forest Lawn, Southview, and East Dover.

    “I want to support Calgary-East become a greater place to live, learn, raise a family, make a living and be part of a community” says Cala about his campaign focus.

    Cesar Cala moved to Calgary from the Philippines with his wife in 1996 and will be the first Filipino-Canadian to be an official candidate for MLA in Calgary and Southern Alberta.

    This nomination comes following the announcement by the provincial government to enact plans to add Filipino language and culture curriculum in K-12 schools.

    According to the provincial government “there are more than 170,000 people of Filipino heritage in Alberta” and is the “fastest growing ethno-cultural community in the province.”

    Cala co-founded several community-serving organizations.

    This is the first time he will be running for political office.

    “This decision did not come lightly nor quickly, but it was a decision that I cannot ignore,” he says. “I feel strongly that the next provincial election will set the path for our province for years, if not generations, to come. Who will win and form the next government is important but equally important is what will be the tone and the discourse of the election.”

    Cala has received several awards for his dedication to his community including the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for Unsung Heroes.

    “I am passionate about building welcoming and safe neighbourhoods and communities, free from racism and discrimination,” he says. “I want to see Filipino-Canadians be proud of our heritage, contributing to the province’s future and represented in the province’s civic and political leadership.”

    The election date will be set between March 1 and May 31. This will be the first election held after the Alberta NDP defeated the Progressive Conservative government in 2015.


    Philippine Bobsled Team Make Their Move


    By: Lindsay Santos

    Photos By: EJ Negre

    Four bobsled athletes have moved to Calgary, their official training home base for the next six weeks.

    Philippine Coast Guardsmen Rolando Isidro, Jeffrey Dela Cruz, Joseph Acosta, and Jerby Deriada with the Philippine National Bobsled, Luge, and Skeleton Association, Inc. (PNBLSA) arrived at the Calgary airport Jan. 28.

    PNBLSA founder and president Buddy Cunanan explains that the goal is to establish a permanent training home base in Calgary and to qualify for the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.

    In partnership with the Alberta Bobsleigh Association (ABA) and with the support of the Filipino Community and sponsors, San Miguel Corporation and Philippine Airlines, the Philippine Bobsled Team have successfully achieved their first goal.

    “Their stay in Calgary was facilitated by the Filipino Community,” Cunanan says.. “In particular, they are being hosted by a Filipino couple that owns a karate/martial arts school with spacious on-site dorm accommodations.

    This couple found out about the team through the news report of Mabuhay Calgary and contacted me directly.”

    Organizations around the city like the Filipino Chamber of Commerce Alberta, the Fiesta Filipino committee, and volunteers welcomed the team with hospitality and rallying support from the rest of the Calgary Filipino community. The bobsled team members have been able to share their story as the first bobsled team from Southeast Asia vying for a spot in the Winter Olympics at functions held for them by the Filipino community.

    Isidro, Dela Cruz, Acosta and Deriada say they are grateful for all the support they’ve received from the Filipino community since relocating to the city at the end of January.

    “The Filipino Calgary community has been so helpful and nice and welcoming,” Isidro says. “We’re so happy to be here.”

    The PNBLSA have also been working closely with Sarah Monk, the Technical Director of the Alberta Bobsled Association, and head coach Dennis Marineau, who has taken the team under his wing. The partnership has helped ensure the Philippine Bobsled Team has the resources, they need as they prepare for their first bobsled competition on Canadian soil, the ABA Provincial Championships Feb. 26 – 28.

    Isidro and Dela Cruz are no strangers to the bobsled competition circuit. They had their first taste last year at Austria’s Europa Cup. Their experience and composure as the drivers are a grounding force on the team while brakeman Acosta and Deriada add a burst of youthful energy to the mix.

    “Together, we hope to be able to surpass all the challenges here,” Dela Cruz says.

    In stark contrast to the sunshine and warmth that they’re accustomed to in the Philippines, adapting to the cold temperatures and snow has proven to be one of the team’s early challenges, but in the face of Calgary’s frigid winter weather, they’ve managed to make the adjustment in stride.

    “It’s very, very cold here but that’s okay, we can handle it, Acosta says. “It’s exciting and I’m enjoying it.” Deriada agrees it has been an interesting ride so far.

    “It’s a very nice experience,” he says.. “It’s new for me and challenging, but we get to represent our country in the highest form of competition so it’s a blessing.”

    Philippine Bobsled Team Needs Support!


    By Lindsay Santos

    Photo By Buddy Cunanan

    Mabuhay caught up with the Philippine National Bobsled, Luge and Skeleton Association, Inc. (PNBLSA) to find out the progress they have been making and to get an update on their plans to make Calgary their homebase for training.

    “The team has continued to carry out bobsled-specific gym and technique training in the Philippines, in preparation for the actual ice canal and ice house training in Calgary,” says Buddy Cunanan, the PNBLSA’s founder and president. “More importantly, the PNBLSA has entered into an agreement with the Alberta Bobsleigh Association (ABA), which will help the PNBLSA athletes develop their skills.”

    The PNBLSA – ABA agreement will be formalized in February, Cunanan says, after Calgary officially becomes the PNBLSA’s homebase. From there, the ABA will take the team under its wings.


    “The PNBLSA will be in Calgary in the third or fourth week of January,” he says. “They will train, under the tutelage of the ABA, beginning February 3,rd and will participate in the Alberta Cup Provincial Championship at the end of February.”

    With January fast approaching, obstacles have come up that have made the PNBLSA’s move to Calgary a challenge. Coordinating with potential training partners in Calgary and meeting the team’s logistical requirements are a few of the hurdles they have managed to overcome with the ABA’s support.

    “The PNBLSA has made tremendous progress with the ABA, which has been tremendously helpful,” says Cunanan. “There are still logistics requirements pertaining to accommodation and assistance with athletes’ needs that are challenging and we hope the Filipino Community can assist.”

    The athletes need people who can act as mentors to help them adjust to life in Canada as it is a completely new environment for them. They are also in need of people they can rely on as ‘guides’ or ‘lifelines’ in the city in the event of unforeseen circumstances.

    Contact Cunanan directly on WhatsApp at +63-922-842-5665 to lend the PNBLSA your support.

    For team updates, follow their Facebook page under The Philippine National Bobsled, Luge, and Skeleton Association.

    Boracay Cleaned and Open to Limited Visitors


      By Darlene Casten

      Boracay re-opened October 26 after a six-month shutdown to complete the first phase of cleanup of the island.

      In April, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte announced Boracay would be shut down to clean the beaches and deal with illegal sewage tie-ins that were draining into the ocean.

      Millions of pesos have been spent to improve sewage systems, rehabilitate wetlands, widen and pave roads and demolish illegal and unsightly structures.

      According to the Philippine Information Agency the coliform level in the water is now safe to swim in at 18.1 per 100ml MPN (most probable number), down 100 per cent from April.

      Other measures include banning fireworks after 9 p.m. and roasting meat over coals and single-rider motorcycles are also banned. Drinking, smoking and dining on the beach is also no longer allowed. Hawkers and vendors, as well as electric lights, have been removed from the beach.

      Snorkeling and diving has also been temporarily suspended. In order to get access to Boracay, tourists will need proof of a reservation at an approved hotel when they arrive at the

      The island will undergo two more phases of cleanup. The last phase will take place in December 2019.

      The ‘soft’ re-opening of Boracay came a week after locals were allowed to return.

      Just over 2,060 hotel rooms in 25 hotels and resorts were open for business at the time of Boracay’s re-opening.

      Gambling and casinos have been banned on the island and local ordinances and environmental regulations will be strictly enforced, government officials say.

      Visitors to the island are restricted to 19,215 per day and only 6,405 tourists are able to stay overnight. The Philippines government is also considering restricting the number of tourists to sites like El Nido and La Union. Philippine media reported 3,068 tourists visited Boracay on October 26, far below the government’s limitations.

      Calgary travel agent Anabelle Bedrejo of Fiesta Travel, says she has had some inquiries, but no bookings for Boracay since it has re-opened.

      “People are still apprehensive to go,” she says. “They think some of the hotels might still be closed.”

      The economy in Calgary is also playing a part, says Bedrejo.

      “People are apprehensive to book,” she explains. “They don’t know if they are going to have a job next month.”

      However, Bedrejo expects Boracay bookings will pick up in the coming months.

      “We are just booking into the summer months now,” she says. “We will probably start getting more questions about Boracay in the next month or two.”

      An Australian friend recently visited Boracay, she adds, and tells her the beaches are much cleaner and that vendors have been moved off the shore.

      The Philippine government has also taken steps to prepare Boracay workers for the re-opening.

      Just over 2,000 front-line workers, including hotel staff, tour guides and boat porters, received free government training to help them promote the ‘better Boracay’.

      “Since the island’s temporary closure, we have been providing free training for our front liners or the ones who will work face to face with our tourists,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat says in a statement. 

      The training included information for workers on environmentally friendly tourism practices and services.

      “We encourage everyone who sets foot in Boracay to be the best and most responsible tourist that you can be. Practice sustainable tourism and respect the island, and you’ll just keep it more fun for the generations to come,” Romulo-Puyat says. 

      More training has been held or is planned for the Boracay’s police officers, guides and stakeholders.

      For more information about the new rules for visiting Boracay visit the Philippine Information Agency.

      Filipina-Canadian Short Film Premieres at TIFF Lightbox


      This year, Calgarian born Karla Villanueva Danan participated in The Unsung Voices Youth Video Production Workshop with the Reel Asian International Film Festival based in Toronto. The 11-week workshop provided mentorship from media professionals and a platform for Asian Canadians to express themselves as artists to produce distinctly Asian Canadian stories.

      The 26- year- old Filipina was one of five chosen out of a pool of 60 applicants hailing from different asian backgrounds. Each participant was tasked with working on each other’s short films as well as writing and directing their own. Danan’s short film Jezebel premiered on Nov 9 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in downtown Toronto during the annual Reel Asian International Film Festival.

      The eight minute film is a Filipina-Canadian coming-of-age story, which focuses on the relationship between a traditional Catholic mother and her 20-something Canadian born daughter living in the city. Jezebel is lighthearted, with plenty of relatable Filipino-isms from hilarious tagalog mom texts to portraits of Jesus. The film was inspired by something that actually happened between Danan and her mother and is a project she is very proud of.

      “I made a short film about my mom and I that is a bit silly but sweet and shows a snippet of Filipino-Canadian essence that we haven’t seen before on any screens,” explains the first time filmmaker.

      Many relatives and close friends attended the screening in support of Danan, including her mother who flew to Toronto from Calgary for the event.

      “It was a dream come true of [my mother] having this experience of ‘let’s go to Toronto for the weekend and watch my kid’s movie at the TIFF Lightbox,’” she explains.  

      The venue where the premiere was held is the largest theatre of the Toronto International Film Festival, a fact which Danan was intimidated by. However, she says with relief that she drew many laughs, even from those of different ethnic backgrounds.

      “It was really special to have strangers come up to me and tell me they enjoyed it,” she says.

      Danan was especially happy that she was able to bring together many different Filipina artists from Toronto for her film, including the actors, music, visual art and behind the scenes crew.

      “It’s so important for this program to exist and for Filipinos to be encouraged to be in the arts,” she explains.

      “The sense of belonging and identity that we can create through media – that’s what’s going to change lives.”

      Danan is currently coordinating more screenings of Jezebel, including this spring at the next Pinay Power conference in Montreal, an event that will highlight the Filipina experiences in the diaspora.

      To learn more visit http://pinaypower.ca

      Filipino Calgarians make it to Audi Quattro Cup World Finals


      by Will Tigley

      Two local Filipino golfers made the world stage this year, representing Canada in the Audi Quattro Cup World Finals 2018 in Kitzbuhel, Austria.

      The chance to compete was a dream for Fred Molina and Leo Casuga.

      “It was a very humbling and the best experience of our lives to compete in Austria and to represent Canada,” says Molina.

      The journey to Austria started with a tournament in July with Molina getting invited to participate in the Audi Royal Oak Quattro Cup in Bearspaw. Inviting Casuga to be his partner, the duo ended up qualifying for Audi Quattro Cup Nationals in Morell, Prince Edward Island in August. It was their success at Nationals that got Molina and Casuga the chance to compete in the international cup on September 23 to 27.

      Molina is still amazed that he and Casuga were the champions chosen to go to Austria. They were among 43 other pairs representing nations from across the world. In the end, Molina and Casuga placed 5th in the A Division of the competition.

      “It was fun in Canada, but definitely more difficult in Austria,” says Molina. “There were some very good European players.” 

      A trip of a lifetime, the chance for Molina and Casuga to compete was paid for by the Audi Quattro Cup. Molina made sure he took time while overseas to stay an extra week in Austria with his wife.

      The experience has given Molina a taste of what international competition has to offer.

      “If we get invited again, we’ll do it,” says Molina.



      It’s the most wonderful time of the year again! With the kids jingle belling, hearts will be glowing, marshmallow roasting, there’ll be parties hosting, it’s the happiest season of all…..hold up this sounds like a Christmas carol, ha ha.

      One of my favorite things to do during the holiday is to entertain family and friends. I love, watching them enjoy great food, wine and conversation. It’s what memories are made of. We all live a very busy, hectic lives and sometimes the thought of cooking could be daunting.

      Cooking for the holidays doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful. Just focus on the seasonal and the freshest ingredients. Be innovative this season, make clever use of what you have in your pantry (this is a good way of getting rid of stuff) to create a memorable meal.


      Instead of dessert, have some fun with a do-it-yourself MOUBECHINO. Give everyone a shot of expresso, dark chocolate shavings, steamed milk, and spoon in ube whipped cream, WALA – YOU HAVE YOURSELF A TASTY BEVERAGE!



      3 cups store bought ready-whipped cream

      1 tbsp ube flavoring (any Asian store will have this)

      1 tsp vanilla extract


      Gently fold the ingredients together. Enjoy.



      1 (13 lb) whole turkey (uncooked)

      2 cups butter (softened)

      1 1⁄2ounces fresh sage

      1 lb bacon (uncooked)

      1 whole onion, chopped

      1 garlic clove

      salt and pepper  to taste


      Pre-heat oven to 325°F. Remove giblets and neck from turkey. Rinse turkey with cold running water and drain well. Blot dry with paper towels.

      Chop onion and garlic and mix together.  Stuff the turkey with the mixture.

      Chop sage and mix in with softened butter. Rub sage butter mixture under the skin and over the skin of the turkey. Salt and pepper to taste

      Place uncooked bacon slices all over the skin of the uncooked turkey.

      Place turkey in a roasting pan and use foil to tent the uncooked turkey. Remove foil tent for last hour of cooking turkey. Cook until golden brown or bacon is crisp.

      A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F – measure with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast, to assure doneness.


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