Filipino language curriculum being developed for Alberta schools

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    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

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    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.

     

    Having Negative Thoughts? S.T.O.P.!

    It’s nice to be back in this column! I love talking about the brighter side of life – I like it when my mind oozes with serotonin (the happy hormone). That is good, right? The world has been so much crazier in the past six months that a state of happiness is, perhaps, the most warranted from nearly everyone these days. For some though, being happy is easier said than done. We are surrounded by so many uncertainties and negative thoughts that sometimes, even if you want to entertain happy thoughts you get distracted by the negativity.

    I was listening to a podcast entitled “Deepak Chopra: Spiritual Solutions. ” A book by the same title was also published by Google Talks. The thesis of this book is that no problem can be solved at the level of awareness in which it was created. For Chopra, spirituality is primarily about consciousness, not about religious dogma or relying on the conventional notion of God. Don’t be mistaken; I am a person of steadfast faith in God. Faith is a major factor that has helped me rise-up through the difficult circumstances in my life. But it also dawned on me that not many can appreciate that level of faith so I thought I should share a different slant about what spiritual solution could mean. It may sound complicated and long but in reality,  spiritual solution simply means “the journey towards self-awareness.” I am not going to talk about the journey itself, but I will share withA you an important message that I hope will provide readers some tools and strategies  on how to deal with negative thoughts, which in my experience is the single biggest source of anxiety in today’s modern life.

    The message I would like to impart is this: You are not a prisoner of your own thought. You are an observer; you are the same observer of the thought that is jamming you all day. But since you are just an observer,  you can control your thoughts. So how can you do that? Deepak Chopra gave a very simple strategy worth sharing – so simple that even elementary kids can do this. It’s called STOP:

    After this, you can also tell yourself, next. That is, you can move from one thought to another. Or you may also shift your attention to your breathing. You may also ask yourself, “What’s the opposite of this thought?” If it is negative, you can think about the positive. What has helped me in the past, as well, is not only to think of the opposite but to think about encouraging possibilities that the current negative circumstances could bring. So, you got laid off from your job. But come to think of it, did it not create the much needed break that you’ve been longing for? Did it not give you the opportunity to take stock of what you truly are passionate about? Did it not make you realize that you have more skills than you thought? The key here is recognition (or awareness as some put it). You are not your thoughts; you are the observer of your thoughts. Don’t let the negative thoughts control you.

    Since the onset of the pandemic, we have been bombarded by so many pleas on social media about being kind and compassionate. I’d like to end by quoting what Simon Sinek, a motivational speaker recently said: When we are kind or generous, when others are kind or generous to us and even when we witness an act of kindness or generosity those warm and fuzzies we feel are thanks to the oxytocin flowing through our bodies. The best part is, the more oxytocin we have, the more generous we become. So, do something nice for someone today and you’ll help make them a better person. Joy doesn’t just make us happy, it also gives us strength.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    Jay-Ann is a self-proclaimed writer and as of late, occasional film critic. Calgary has been her home since 2012, together with her husband and three children. Besides KDrama, she loves to write (and talk passionately about) about travels, food, geopolitics and the economy. She drew inspiration from the late Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown.”  
    She has an undergraduate degree in Biology, a Master’s Degree in Development Management, and has worked in the oil and gas industry as a professional Project/Program Manager. She also finds joy in hiking, cooking and community volunteering. 

    The Virtual Learning Dilemma

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    Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, students in Alberta will be returning to school in September. While infection rates vary across countries, according to UNESCO, there are almost 1.2 billion students in 186 countries affected by school closures due to the pandemic. The adoption of online learning has become a safer alternative and have made parents and students wondering if virtual classrooms would continue post-pandemic. How this would create a transition towards the general perceptive on formal education is still up for discussion. What is certain is that online classrooms are fundamentally different from traditional face-to-face classrooms. As a platform for learning, it presents unique challenges and advantages for parents, teachers, and students alike. 

     

    The Disparity in Computer Literacy

    Most students nowadays are tech-savvy; unfortunately, not all teachers and parents are quite as much. Suddenly, knowing how to use Microsoft Word and PowerPoint is not enough. The generational disparity of being used to traditional learning in offline classrooms can cause resistance to change. It makes it difficult to adapt to the online learning environment, requiring substantial effort to get accustomed to online collaboration applications such as the G Suite and online lectures through Zoom. This “traditional student” mindset will be present but the new learning circumstances need to be accepted with the understanding of the benefits of eLearning. The existence of modern eLearning alternatives does not necessarily mean that there was something wrong with traditional classrooms; they should be considered as tools that need to be used appropriately. 

     

    Technical Requirements

    The convenience of being able to deliver and attend classes remotely is one of the main reasons why eLearning is an enticing alternative. But it also has caveats. Having a wide range of software and hardware tools available to prepare for online classes also means you should also know what you adequately need. Overspending on an expensive laptop used for simple word processing tasks can be as wasteful as buying a cheaper one for video editing and graphic design. Thankfully, most schools and online courses would prescribe their specific technical requirements for each class. Planning would not only save money but would also prevent the unnecessary stress of last-minute shopping or replacing what was bought to what is needed. Going out unless it is necessary is the whole point of preferring to do things remotely during this pandemic. 

     

     

    Independent Learning and Time Management Skills

    Unlike face-to-face classrooms, online learning provides autonomy for students. The wide variety of approaches to which students can accomplish tasks promotes creativity and a sense of empowerment. This prepares students to be better equipped on the nature of real-life scenarios where there is no single approach in problem-solving. On the other hand, teachers and parents need to ensure that the student’s online learning environment is conducive to this type of learning. One of the most common misconceptions about online learning is that it promotes passivity given the nature of interactions. Teachers need to make sure that class materials are comprehensible and actionable enough for independent learning. Effective online classes encourage participation and an environment that induces curiosity from the learner. Students are not confined to comparing their way of thinking to the people inside the four corners of a classroom. Independent learning encourages collaboration by teaching students that there is a multitude of ways to consolidate information by joining online forums through Reddit, niche social media pages, and massive open online courses (MOOC) like edX. However, the freedom it entails also requires students to have good time management skills. Typically, adults who prefer online learning are people who like the time flexibility it offers in furthering their education while keeping their jobs or other daily commitments. Younger students need to be guided by their parents by teaching their children how to schedule their tasks. Keeping a regular schedule would not only teach them how to meet their deadlines but also how to keep oneself productive.  

     

    Motivation

    Being constantly motivated is an essential requirement not only for eLearning but for learning in general. Students new to eLearning can easily be overwhelmed by the amount of autonomy given to them. Nurturing a positive attitude is key to being successful through online learning. Keeping something to look forward to, both in the short-term and long-term, can keep students motivated. Whether it is something as simple as rewarding yourself after accomplishing a task or the sense of fulfillment in gaining a certificate after completing an online course.

     

    Parents and teachers need to understand that social interactions and knowledge acquisition would be different for children who were born in this age of hyper-connectivity and instant gratification. More importantly, the ability to discern authentic and credible information has become invaluable in this vast sea of highly accessible knowledge.   

     

     

     

    REFERENCES

    Crawford, C., & Brown, E., "Integrating Internet‐based mathematical manipulatives within a learning environment," in Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science

    Teaching 22 (2003): 169–180. [return]

     

    Deci, E. L. and Ryan, R. M. Facilitating Optimal Motivation and Psychological Wellbeing Across Life's Domains. Canadian Psychology 49, 1 (2008), 1423.

     

    Education: From disruption to recovery. (2020, June 15). Retrieved August 05, 2020, from https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse

     

    Furstenberg, G. (1997) Teaching with Technology: What Is at Stake? ADFL Bulletin, 28 (3): 21–25.

     

    Lim, C. P., et. al., "Classroom Management Issues in Information and Communication Technology (ICT)‐Mediated Learning Environments: Back to the Basics," Journal of

    Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia 14, 4 (2005): 391‐414.

     

    Niemiec, C. P and Ryan, R. M. Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness in the Classroom: Applying self-determination theory to educational practice. Theory and Research in Education 7, 2 (2009), 133144.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Ronald is a marketing communication specialist and a TEFL certified online educator. He enjoys reading novels and writing prose as a freelancer. He has an undergraduate degree in Organizational Communication and a master’s degree in Marketing Communication. He has also worked in the academe as a lecturer and consultant in the fields of Marketing and Communication Studies.

    The TikTok Revolution: Rewriting Social Media

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    Tiktok is currently the most rapidly growing social media platform in the world. Its unique format and engaging content have even found its way in other apps such as YouTube and Instagram. Online influencers with millions of following have started to flock into its content feed and companies have started to take notice. The platform has also seen an exponential rise in its userbase thanks to the COVID-19 lockdowns. That is why allegations of Tiktok being a national security threat being owned by a Chinese owned firm have become the main contention of why the Trump administration has been threatening to ban the platform. This is under the notion that the Chinese government can gain access to data within Chinese owned companies under local law. Tiktok currently has 800 million active users worldwide, with the majority of its users ranging from 10-29 years old. Bytedance, the application’s parent company, has recently decided to sell its US operations to Microsoft though no deal has been finalized. The issue seemingly sending ripples across the globe may have only created even more curiosity of what makes this social media platform special.

    The application is made unique by its compressed format, easy to use video tools and never-ending challenges within the community that keeps it engaging. The 15-second cap for each content uploaded allows for easy to consume content. Most videos are straight to the point and exude engaging content in a bite-sized format. Tiktok is by no means the only creative outlet for social media users. What sets it apart is how its deceivingly simple format created an outlet for millions of people across cultural boundaries to embrace their uniqueness.  Each post is oozing with personality, enabled by the plethora of video tools provided by the app. The “challenges” which include lip-syncing songs, dancing to personalized choreography, and meme creation provides a continuous stream of content. These types of content are not exclusive to Ttikok but the culture within its community plays an inherently significant role.

    The Tiktok community attempts to foster individuality and multiculturalism at the same time. Content creators and users alike are motivated by being able to express themselves in an environment embracing authenticity, which seems to be constantly yearned by a generation burdened by the dissonance of expectations and apathy. This makes it attractive to cultures that are prone to conservativeness. Younger Filipinos born in an age of hyper-connectivity constantly experience dissonance, particularly in cultural identification and societal norms. Ironically, this also allowed them to question what truly makes their Filipino heritage unique and worth being proud of. Tiktok has become an outlet for such sentiment for its younger user-base. The demographics of the users have also made it more likely that the content uploaded within the app is safe from the societal judgment of a more conservative population which has steadily penetrated other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

    The freedom the application provides is not its only alluring asset; the algorithm it uses in recommending content in a user’s content feed is another factor that makes it addicting. The app filters content that would resonate with the user’s interests. The brevity of the content and the sense of discovery with every swipe makes the user stay within the app for extensive periods. Combined with the challenges that encourage participation, and a community unbounded by societal judgment, Tiktok created a formula that harmonizes with the social media needs of a constantly innovating industry.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Ronald is a marketing communication specialist and a TEFL certified online educator. He enjoys reading novels and writing prose as a freelancer. He has an undergraduate degree in Organizational Communication and a master’s degree in Marketing Communication. He has also worked in the academe as a lecturer and consultant in the fields of Marketing and Communication Studies.

    United by The Mountains

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    What is a family? Is it defined by your blood relations or by those you choose to spend your precious time with?

    Most of us, perhaps already planned their family trips this 2020. It was all exciting planning to go with your loved ones to somewhere aesthetic and try out something exciting. However, the pandemic brought a lot of changes to the way our society interacts with each other, and for us to make the most out of it, we must transmute to the new normal of doing outdoor activities. For K8 Mountaineering Club of Alberta, hiking the heights of marvellous mountains is one of the greatest ways to have an exciting and enjoyable, yet safe-from-the-virus family outdoor activity.

    The K8 who is actively engaged in mountaineering, organized a combined general assembly and family camping event for their members last July 9 to 12, 2020, at the Bighorn Dam, Clearwater County, Nordegg, Alberta. K8 members from Calgary, Banff, and Edmonton attended the three days event together with their families to refresh their love and passion for mountaineering as well as introduce its beauty and excitement to their loved ones through interactive discussions and activities.

    The event would certainly not proceed without safety precautions for the attendees. Although it is difficult to perceive this time of the pandemic, the K8 group is consciously aware to ensure that no attendees experience CoVid-19 symptoms. Minimum health standards were also followed by providing the attendees with face masks, setting up four-hand sanitizing stations and encouraging physical distancing was easier to follow in the vastness of the campsite and the mountains.

    Before braving the thrilling mountain climbs, the members first underwent a K8 Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC), facilitated by the K8 board of membership in reference to the international standards which standardizes each member's understanding of mountaineering. Orienting and teaching them of the do’s, don’ts, skills and techniques in climbing, the types of apparel to wear, and the types of equipment and gears from “starter-pack” to “pro-mountaineers” which were exhibited and demonstrated of proper use, teach the participants to become responsible mountaineer.

    Safety of the members is of utmost priority of the K8 group, that is why they also taught them the proper use of Bear Spray in defending themselves against the wild animals which they may encounter in the trails.

    Via Ferrata at Mt. Stelfox put the K8 members' knowledge and skills on mountaineering to the test. It is a good starter for beginners with a mix of the right amount of fun and thrill, challenging each climbers strength and stamina in scrambling the steep, rocky slope of Mt.

    Stelfox while savouring the cold, fresh breeze and the breathtaking beauty of Abraham Lake, Mt. Michener and Clearwater County.

    Successfully reaching the summit of Mt. Stelfox was such an achievement for the members of K8. More than the satisfaction of seeing the panoramic view at the top of the mountains is the indescribable feeling of fulfilment, knowing that we can overcome every mountain peak and every battle in our lives with full determination and perseverance with the help of our families and friends, and certainly with the guidance of our Creator who moves mountains.

    General Assembly 2020-5
    General Assembly 2020-2
    Sam Cabrera 2
    Michael Ballesteros 2
    General Assembly 2020
    Sisa Arcigal
    General Assembly 2020-7
    Laura Kwok 2
    Honey Caderma 2
    Stewart Bacurnay
    Lemuel Delim 2
    General Assembly 2020-6
    Levi John
    General Assembly 2020-3
    Pactrick Carpio
    General Assembly 2020-5 General Assembly 2020-2 Sam Cabrera 2 Michael Ballesteros 2 General Assembly 2020 Sisa Arcigal General Assembly 2020-7 Laura Kwok 2 Honey Caderma 2 Stewart Bacurnay Lemuel Delim 2 General Assembly 2020-6 Levi John General Assembly 2020-3 Pactrick Carpio

    Beyond doubt, the event was successful in promoting responsible mountaineering. It was not only informative and practical but also a great experience that the families and friends will always remember. The days during the family camp that filled with so much fun, childhood games, sumptuous food, nature appreciation, and inspiring stories of the members that surely connect them to the unquestionable importance of past experiences. It strengthened the bonds among families and friends, creating together memories that they will forever cherish.

    K8 is looking forward to more exciting major climbs and activities planned by the newly elected officers who took their oath during the general assembly. K8 Mountaineering Club of Alberta opens its doors to anyone who wants to experience new adventures.

    It is fascinating to know how a goal of K8 in overcoming every mountain can ignite a passion for nature, unlock potentials among its members and ultimately unite them as a family. Just like what Levi Ramos, the Executive Chairman of K8, has written, “This club is not just a group, organization, or society, but a family. Masonic Brotherhood of individuals with the same passion and fate when it comes to nature. Formed with members and a leader that will guide the whole in one common goal. Let the mountains unite us all!”

    Interested in joining the K8 Mountaineering Club of Alberta? Add or DM us on our Facebook Page at K8 Mountaineering Club of Alberta or send an email to k8mountainclub.ab@gmail.com

    Hailstorm victims weathered and left out

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    Hailstorm damage on a car windshield
    Hailstorm damage on a car windshield | Photo by Lourdes Uy

     

    Photo by Lourdes Uy

    John Nidua, a resident in Northeast Calgary, remembered it was a nice, sunny day. He was doing his house chores, and his family came to visit. They were all having a good time until it started to rain – hail. “We could hear something hitting the roof, it was pellet sized. Rain started to pick up and when we checked, the hail became marble sized and then became like a size of golf balls, some were as big as tennis balls,” John recalls.

    On June 13, 2020, a massive hailstorm battered more than 70,000 houses and vehicles in Calgary. Communities in the Northeast were identified as the hardest hit areas in the city, where more than 10,000 Filipinos reside. After assessing the damages, the Insurance Bureau of Canada declared it as the fourth costliest natural disaster in Canada’s history—even costlier than the hailstorm experienced by the city in 2016—with an estimate of at least $1.2 billion worth of insured damages.

    Baseball sized hail pounded the sidings of houses, shattered their windows, and battered vehicles which left hailstorm victims a tremendous amount of housework, not only for cleanup and rebuilding, but a tremendous work in getting a hold on their insurance agencies and dealing with what their insurance does not cover.

    John needed to cover deductible fees of more than $2,000 for his house and $1,000 for his car. However, he was temporarily laid off from his job due to COVID-19 and his Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) couldn’t really cover the fees. John and a thousand other Filipino families living in Skyview Ranch, Redstone, Saddle Ridge and Taradale were left with the same hurdle.

    Maribel Javier shared the same sentiments. “After it happened, I called my insurance right away and they were quick in processing my claims,” shares Maribel. “What made it difficult was I had to wait for almost two months for their response. On top of that, when I did get a response from them, I realized I needed to cover the deductible fee which was too much and I am on pension.” 

    Maribel’s house was also severely damaged by the hailstorm, which left her with a traumatizing experience, even more traumatizing than the 2016 hailstorm. “This time, the situation is different, a lot of people lost their jobs. How are we going to repair our homes? Winter is coming and we are in the middle of a pandemic,” says Maribel.

    It was this looming problem that prompted Maribel to join and support the Hailstorm Action Committee Community Campaign. The group, led by volunteers who are residents in the hardest hit areas in Northeast, calls on the federal and provincial governments for a disaster relief funding that could potentially help homeowners rebuild their homes as soon as possible. 

    On July 22, 2020, members of the committee organized a convoy to Edmonton and held a demonstration on the steps of the Alberta Legislature. They are actively seeking assistance from the government in terms of declaring the hailstorm incident as a natural disaster for them to be able to access the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements, as well as giving residents a confirmation that their insurance premiums will not spike due to the hailstorm.

    Action Committee Spokesperson Khalil Karbani underlined in a statement that “victims are under enourmous stress. As they cope with economic pain, the pandemic, and back-to-school worries, the premier dismisses us by telling us to talk to our insurance companies.”

    On Aug 7, 2020, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi added voice to the cause and wrote a letter addressed to the Premier and Prime Minister, pleading for immediate relief through interest free loans, incentives to support constructions , and full review of the provincial Disaster Relief Program, as well as the federal Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements.

    “Our cause will not only benefit affected communities living in the Northeast but everyone in Calgary. Who knows when this will happen again,” underlines Maribel. “Most of the affected communities were composed of families of color, newcomers, and immigrants. We feel like our voice is not being heard because of a subtle racism in the process. It is being felt in the community.”

    Community and Social Services Minister Rajan Sawhney disclosed that they are working and coordinating closely with the Insurance Bureau of Canada in making sure that insurance companies honor their commitment to their clients and treat them with dignity and respect. “We are aware that the Northeast community is being discriminated and are feeling left out. I am personally working on this initiative to help residents get back on their feet,” says Minister Sawhney.

    “We are happy to note that we are working closely with other organizations and community leaders in making sure that we are checking on our people, listening to their needs, and helping them in any way we can to alleviate their stress,” adds Minister Sawhney. “It is very important that we always remain hopeful because tough times don’t last but tough people do.”

    Minister Sawhney also said that more information regarding the government’s actions related to the hailstorm disaster will be disclosed in the coming weeks.

    Sources: National House Survey

     

    Missed our newspaper on the stands?
    Read our August 2020 Issue here

     

    Alberta Restricts TFW Program

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    As part of the UCP government’s economic recovery plan, large sections of the temporary foreign worker (TFW) program have been suspended until spring 2021.

    The move is meant to encourage unemployed Albertans to fill vacant positions instead of overseas workers.

    According to Parliamentary Secretary of Immigration Muhammad Yaseen, travel restrictions following the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the high unemployment rate in Alberta are the two main factors for the suspension. The latest jobs numbers from Statistics Canada reveal that more than 365,000 Albertans are unemployed.

    Exemptions to the suspension include caregiving, emergency response, hospitality in mountain parks, and agriculture.

    “These are temporary restrictions,” Yaseen says, “many sectors are exempt, and if things improve we could change it.”Current temporary foreign workers have the ability to apply for the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP). The AINP is an economic immigration program that allows immigrants to apply for permanent residence in Alberta.

    “It’s not that we’re stopping it completely,” Yaseen explains. “As economic conditions get better we will open everything up again.”

    Andy Mahilom, president of the Phil-Can Tennis Association sees no reason for Filipinos in Alberta to be worried.

    “The TFW program helps a lot of Filipinos, and suspending the program is okay because of the pandemic,” Mahilom said. “Hopefully they return back and a lot of Filipinos will return to work in Canada.”

    If conditions improve in Alberta, the TFW program could go back to normal sooner. However, restrictions may remain in place if they do not.

    However, Yaseen remains hopeful.

    “Despite the fact that these are temporary restrictions, certain categories are exempt and it could only be for 12 months,” Yaseen says.

    Read our July 2020 Issue here

    Travelling in the New Normal

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    The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has released in April 2020 a document called "Travelling in the New Normal" as part of its comprehensive plan outlining critical steps, coordinated actions, and new standards and protocols toward a safe and responsible road to recovery for the global Travel and Tourism sector.

    Most of the "new normal" protocols are already in place. These protocols have been adopted until a vaccine becomes available on a mass scale, large enough to inoculate billions of people. Here's an excerpt from the WTTC press release articulating the plan for the "new normal:"

    • To offer world-class cleanliness, improved hygiene standards and ensure guest safety, hotels are developing protocols based on learnings from offering free rooms to frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 crisis.  
    • There will be new protocols for check-in involving digital technology; hand sanitizer stations at frequent points including where luggage is stored; contactless payment instead of cash; using stairs more often than lifts where the 2 meter rule can be harder to maintain; and fitness equipment being moved for greater separation among other examples. 
    • Cruise operators will take further measures to ensure ships are free of COVID-19 including staff wearing gloves at all times which are then frequently changed; and more frequent room cleaning. 
    • Travelers at airports will find themselves tested before they fly and upon arrival at their destination airport. They can expect to see social distancing measures at the airport and during boarding, as well as wearing masks while onboard. 
    • Aircraft will also be subject to intensive cleansing regimes. These measures will be combined with contact-tracing, via mobile app, that will allow flights to leave airports COVID-19-free.
    • The protocols, which have been developed using experience from China’s initial recovery and from new successful standards used by retailers, have been and shared with governments globally, so there is a coordinated approach to travelling within the COVID-19 world. 

    As travel restrictions are lifted incrementally and many airlines gradually resume air travel, I hope this information gives us some additional consideration around the risks of travelling during the pandemic.

    I would also like to take this opportunity to make a plea to everyone to wear mask when going to public spaces. The following has been shared by a friend on social media and I thought it fitting to use this platform to further emphasize the point.

    When I wear a mask in public, or decline an invitation to a party or to come inside, I want you to know that:

    • I am educated enough to know that I could be asymptomatic and still give you the virus.
    • No, I don’t “live in fear” of the virus; I just want to be part of the solution, not the problem.
    •  I don’t feel like the “government is controlling me;” I feel like I’m being a contributing citizen to society and I want to teach others the same.
    •  The world does not revolve around me. It is not all about me and my comfort.
    •  If we all could live with other people's consideration in mind, this whole world would be a much better place.
    • Wearing a mask doesn’t make me weak, scared, stupid, or even “controlled.” It makes me considerate.

    When you think about how you look, how uncomfortable it is, or what others think of you, just imagine someone close to you - a child, a father, a mother, grandparent, aunt, or uncle - choking on a respirator, alone without you or any family member allowed at bedside. Ask yourself if you could have sucked it up. Was it worth the risk? Wearing a mask is not political. It’s public health choice!

    I am a world traveler myself and I look forward to the day when we can travel freely again within the bounds of normal health precautions.  

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Jay-Ann is a self-proclaimed writer and as of late, occasional film critic. Calgary has been her home since 2012, together with her husband and three children. Besides KDrama, she loves to write (and talk passionately about) about travels, food, geopolitics and the economy. She drew inspiration from the late Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown.”  
    She has an undergraduate degree in Biology, a Master’s Degree in Development Management, and has worked in the oil and gas industry as a professional Project/Program Manager. She also finds joy in hiking, cooking and community volunteering. 

    Read our July 2020 Issue here

    Black Lives Matter: What History Has Taught Us

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    The resurgence of "Black Lives Matter" has gripped my psyche like nothing I've experienced before. I am aghast at how some prominent leaders in our society have blatantly disrespected the very core principles of diversity and inclusion. Racial flare-ups are common in the US but the recent intensity and breadth of response from common citizens around the world seem different this time. I am tempted to write a long opinion but somehow managed to restrain myself. The world has gone through so much of emotional and mental roller coaster in the past six months and I would rather add a silver lining than fuel the fire. Therefore, I have chosen to reflect on what history has taught us instead. I have carefully selected the speech delivered by Martin Luther King, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize on December 11, 1964, as it reflects the paradigm from which I am rooted.

    Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence.

    Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

    The tortuous road which has led from Montgomery to Oslo is a road over which millions of Negroes are travelling to find a new sense of dignity. It will, I am convinced, be widened into a superhighway of justice.


    I refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of man's present nature makes him morally
    incapable of reaching up for the "oughtness" that forever confronts him.

    I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of nuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.

    History tells us that injustice began with the original sin of slavery but, injustice has endured because racism and discrimination have, too. Let's be realistic. Some forms of discrimination or racism, regardless of race, cannot be avoided, deliberately or otherwise. What makes it really worrisome is if it becomes systemic and totally undermines the basic human virtues of trust and respect. If that happens, then the very fabric of human ecology crumbles.

    Almost half a decade after MLK Jr.'s passing, his aspiration still lives on. Still far too many have been left out and struggling to overcome racism and discrimination. The Economist (June 13th 2020) mentioned that a large and growing literature links the still-yawing racial gaps in income, employment and wealth to the segregated communities, racial violence and unequal investment that have been a feature of American society for so long. Black and marginalized communities still face differential treatment from the police and unequal access to high quality public goods like education and even environmental quality. I would like to believe that the situation may not be as blatant here in our very own Calgary, although one could say that there are pockets of similar circumstances happening around us. It is not just police behavior that needs to change in order to see progress. Each and everyone of us needs to be part of that change. I cannot allow myself to be a silent spectator. “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” Thank you, John Lewis for this legacy.  Translated in Tagalog: “Kung hindi tayo, sino pa? Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?” A slogan that has long been imprinted in my mind since I was 16 as I entered the University of the Philippines, but still resonates strongly with me.  This has prompted me to proactively seek a forum to contribute my thoughts and work collaboratively with organizations who are advocating for this change.


    I would like to believe that I live in a community that embraces diversity in whatever shape or form. So, it is natural for me to be sensitive to various cultures and beliefs. My professional life has taught me very strongly that tolerance is not only an esteemed virtue but a necessity if we genuinely wish for this world to be a better place to live in. We have done tremendous strides as humanity. Even USA Inc has at last become openly serious about tackling racism. CEOs of the biggest US companies have sent letters to Congress advocating changes to how policing is done, made or in the process of changing corporate policies to make racial justice "intentional and specific." However, the cycle of progression and regression repeats over and over again therefore, in my opinion the intentionality and specificity of our efforts must be consistent at all fronts – social, economic, political, financial, and even spiritual - if we truly want to see a genuine reform.

     

    Excerpts from the speech was taken from Bartlett, J. 1980. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. Toronto, CA: Little, Brown and Company.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Jay-Ann is a self-proclaimed writer and as of late, occasional film critic. Calgary has been her home since 2012, together with her husband and three children. Besides KDrama, she loves to write (and talk passionately about) about travels, food, geopolitics and the economy. She drew inspiration from the late Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown.”  
    She has an undergraduate degree in Biology, a Master’s Degree in Development Management, and has worked in the oil and gas industry as a professional Project/Program Manager. She also finds joy in hiking, cooking and community volunteering. 

    Read our July 2020 Issue here

    Wills and Last Testaments – Why make one in Alberta?

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    At some point in their lives, it is not unusual for people young and old to think they are “invincible”.

    For the young, death seems not even part of the life equation considering that being “young” and presumably blessed with good health is the particular high mark in a person’s life journey. The journey through the years is marked in achieving career goals, raising a family,  and to search for the happy life characterized by material prosperity. For the rest of us who are not so young, the goal is to look forward to more years living in this world (i.e. think retirement and enjoyment of the blessed golden years). After all, longer lifespans of our generation are backed by solid science.

    However, humans have a biological shelf life. All of us (without exception) will eventually die. And more often than not, it is often difficult to know for certain when death arrives. 2020 is a stark reminder how fragile our lives are and the continuing effect of the global pandemic in our lives.

    A survey of the Lawyer’s Professional Indemnity Co. (LawPRO) found 88% of Canadians  between the ages of 27 and 34 do not have a “Will, the most common reason for not having one is the fact that they are “too young” to have one and a Will is for those nearing the end of a life’s journey. For the whole of Canada, the LawPRO survey found that 56% of Canadian adults do not have a signed Will.

    Legally, what happens after death?

    Upon the death of a person (i.e. the person who dies is referred to as the “Decedent”), the legal entity – the Estate - comes into existence. The Estate is the totality of all properties (i.e. real properties, personal properties and less the debts and obligations) owned by the decedent.  The Estate is not subject to self-management and properties do not automatically go to the decedent’s family and loved ones left in this world.

    Management and distribution of the Estate may be facilitated through the terms of a Will, a legal document governed by legislation. If there is no Will, management and distribution of the Estate is made through intestate proceedings *(no Will).

    Matters of Estate and how properties are to be managed and distributed are subject of the law.

    In Alberta, the WILLS AND SUCCESSIONS ACT (WSA) was enacted to law on February 1, 2012. The WSA is the law that governs Wills; intestate situations and survivorship situations; dependent’s rights; and successional rights.

    What happens to the Estate if a person dies without a Will?

    The most common perception is that after a person dies without a Will, his or her properties (i.e. the “Estate”) will just pass on gently to the surviving spouse; children; or any other person who is left behind and related to the Decedent. This is not true. Dying intestate may be more complicated than this.

    If a person dies without leaving a Will, The LAW takes over (Intestate provisions of the WSA). He or she loses control over the Estate by way of how it is be administered; how the assets are to be accounted and distributed; how a guardian and a trustee is to be instituted for the minor children for their care and for management of the minors’ inheritance; and even how to best take advantage of tax laws to maximize their use for those loved ones left behind.

    Dying intestate will turn out to be potentially litigious and cumbersome at a time when the family has suffered from the death of a loved one. Almost always, dying intestate will be more expensive (i.e. legal proceedings, lawyer’s fees, and emotional costs) for the loved ones left behind. It is often the rule that relatives of a deceased who died intestate may be compelled to see professional counsel to navigate the appointment of Administrators for the Estate (i.e. advice of lawyers); guardians for the minor children and trustees for the property of minor children; and management of the Estate (i.e. advice of accountants).

    Why make a Will in the first place?

    A Will is any writing that confers a testamentary disposition of the Estate and designates a personal representative to administer the Estate. The Will takes effect upon the death of the person who makes it.

    A Will enables a person to have his wishes fulfilled after his death. If a person dies without a Will, the Estate will be subjected to intestate rules on succession.

    Having a Will ensures the appointment of your designated Personal Representative (i.e. Executor, Administrator, and/or the Manager of the Estate) and an assurance that one’s wishes (made while in complete control and while still alive) are followed. You get to decide who will benefit from the Estate; who gets what, who gets nothing, and decide on how properties are to be distributed (i.e. if there are minors, you get to decide who will manage the properties given to minor beneficiaries). In other words, the careful planning and execution of a legally effective Will can ensure that the one’s wishes (after he or she passes on) are clear and shall be followed as per the terms of the executed Will and last testament.

    The person who makes a Will is called the Testator.

    In Alberta, the Testator is endowed with testamentary freedom. The Testator has the sole discretion to decide on all decisions that will affect his Estate after his or her death.

    The Testator may provide for the burial arrangements. The Testator can designate his or her preferred choice or even choices of the Personal Representative, the manager/administrator of the Estate. The Personal Representative is the same as the Executor and Administrator although the term of the Personal Representative is used in the WSA. He or she is the person who will be entrusted to act in accordance with the terms of the Will and how the Estate is to be managed, accounted, and eventually distributed to the named beneficiaries.

    The Testator can plan ahead on how to take advantage of tax savings measures (i.e. gifts to charities; roll over provisions of the Income Tax Act). He or she can provide for the  guardianship of his minor children, institute the person who will officially be responsible for their care until they reach the age of majority.

    In Canada, the testator can choose who gets what and who is out and this blanket choice is his alone to make concerning his properties that he leaves behind and forming part of his Estate (i.e. in the Philippines, the Civil Code provides that the Testator can only distribute the “free portion” of his Estate in a Will since Philippine succession law mandates certain reserved portions of the Estate to certain “forced heirs” [i.e. the spouse, children, etc.] as a general rule).

    The Testator can even include provisions in his Will as to when the beneficiaries can receive their share of the Estate.

    One of the most practical aspects in having a valid Will is the cost of settling the Estate. It is so much cheaper to have a probate of a Will. The probate process is easier and more cost effective (i.e. compared to applications for Administration and intestate proceedings under the WSA). A probate is a process by which the Court of Queen’s Bench confirms that the last Will of deceased is legally valid and the person (Personal Representative of the Estate) applying for grant of probate has the legal authority to administer the estate.

    A probate process in Alberta is a simple desk application (i.e. there are no hearings conducted before a Judge in probate applications) whereby the Executor will normally go to the Surrogate Division of the Court of Queen’s Bench; fill up the forms (i.e. $35.00) contained in the Surrogate Rules; and submit them to the Surrogate Division of the Court of Queen’s Bench. The process is pretty much streamlined and costly litigation is therefore avoided. The filing fees are reasonable and would depend on the value of the Estate. In Alberta, the filing fees for a  probate substantial Estate (i.e. a $1,000,000.00 or more) will not be higher than $500. The Personal Representative can choose to fill up the forms or seek the advice of a lawyer for a nominal fee.

    Let's face it, making a Will may not be the most exciting thing to do (and there may be a time you are clueless on how to start drafting one and ensuring that the same is legally valid), but by

    protecting your hard earned savings, property and assets, and putting matters in order, you can look after those people who matter to you most.

    Contrary to prevailing legal myths, it is more economical to seek legal advice to ensure that the Will corresponds to the rules of the WSA and to be properly advised on the provisions of the Will one desires.

    Making a Will is one of the most caring things you can do for your family - ensuring that they do not have the additional pain and worry at a time when they least need it.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Anthony L. Po graduated from the UP College of Law, University of the Philippines and practiced law for 28 years in the Philippines. He was admitted to the practice of law in Canada and is currently a member of the Law Society of Alberta as a Barrister and Solicitor and practices law with the law office of Murray MacKay Professional Corporation of Calgary (Tel. 403 532-8288) in the areas of Personal Injury, Family Law, Real Estate, Wills and Estate, and civil litigation. Comments may be coursed through anthonypo@albertalawyer.com

    Read our July 2020 Issue here

    Yamnuska: A K8 Induction Mountain

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    Have you ever wondered about how the K8 Mountaineering Club of Alberta welcomes their aspiring members? Every member of the group has a memorable story to tell, but here’s to a few glimpses on how we conduct an induction climb. Coming from the City of Calgary, Mt. Yamnuska is the first mountain on your right when entering the Canadian Rockies. Its most prominent feature is its wide south-facing 152m cliff face. A very popular location for rock climbing enthusiasts.

    Whether you have zero experience about climbing or an experienced climber inside and outside Canada, induction climb is a must in joining K8. The same principle in the business world as It is vital that an employee is given a proper introduction to the new job. It is a process of discovering the values and principles of K8 from a set of facts. Moreover, the new members will be able to gauge the physical fitness and mental aspects of K8’s activities through the induction.

    Since Alberta reopens last June 2020, K8 has undergone an induction climb for June and July. It is important to bring knowledge of the K8’s Pandemic Strategy which serves as a social contract for best practice, rather than rules to be strictly enforced. As we continue to entrust a high degree of accountability and integrity amongst its members, ensuring the health and safety remains its top priority.

    Mt. Yamnuska is a generous mountain. Gaining elevations unlocks spectacular views from time to time. The route that the group typically follows from the parking lot is about 1/2km until you will reach a first junction that says climbers to the left and hikers to the right. Don’t be confused as the sign is correct. K8 typically take the right-hand route. This route requires good experience in scrambling and requires caution. Levi John Ramos, K8’s Executive Chairman, has done 18 consistent summits on this mountain even in the winter season and snow-covered. Route finding skills and being comfortable while traversing is a must.

    As you work your way up through aspen and spruce forest towards the bottom of the east side of the cliff face, you will see a beautiful a large cut in the rock, we call it “Biak na Bato”, with a boulder blocking the middle section. After this section of the climb, average inductees typically exceed physical fitness limits after an exhilarating hike going above the tree line. We typically see some of them having “pulikat” or cramps up to this point. Having a good guide at the back of the pack, we call it “sweeper”, will make a big difference. Patience, good coaching and skill to divert attention will help the climber to push more on the self-imposed boundaries not knowing from that point and getting to the summit later on. A lot of times, it is just about putting one foot in front of the other. We'll get there eventually.

     

    1 Mt. Yamnuska Ridge
    3 Mt. Yamnuska Ridge
    January 2021
    4 Mt. Yamnuska Ridge
    Levi Final Push
    9 Mt. Yamnuska Ridge
    Team 3.0
    Mhay Honey
    Candice Jayjay and Friend
    Patrick Carpio
    K8 Mentality
    1 Mt. Yamnuska Ridge 3 Mt. Yamnuska Ridge January 2021 4 Mt. Yamnuska Ridge Levi Final Push 9 Mt. Yamnuska Ridge Team 3.0 Mhay Honey Candice Jayjay and Friend Patrick Carpio K8 Mentality

     

    K8’s Mentality: You are not doing it right, if you keep on looking at how high is the top. Try looking back to see how far you have come. Keep following a well-worn scree trail up the slope then pass between a spine-like buttress. When the team reaches the bolted chain, K8 provides the inductees with proper gears and equipment typically helmet, safety harness, lanyard with two hooks and locking carabiner. K8’s practice is to make sure the safety of its aspiring members, never be complacent as every decision is just one step back away from accidents. An important reminder to enjoy what you do, no matter what reasons you may have going up to the mountains, whether it's for personal battles alone or testing oneself limits.

    Once you traverse the chain ledge locate the trail again and work your way across and up to the summit. Route finding skills are needed here and you may find yourself above very steep loose slopes that lead to cliffs further below. There are no chains here so once again caution is needed. Typically, the team reaches the summit approximately at noon and enjoys the view and have a quick lunch for 15-20 minutes. Whether it is a simple snack of nuts, protein bars or soup, it is indeed one of the best lunches to experience in your lifetime.

    From the summit, the fastest way down is by the west route. Follow the summit trail down the steep scree slopes that lead down the northwest side of the mountain. Scree slopes have been one of the secrets of the induction climb. It is intimidating to see at first going down as scary as something you probably have never done in your life. As we realize, once you step your foot “heel first” as our normal practice, it is indeed the most enjoyable and memorable part of the climb for most of us. We even look forward to it when we have a chance to climb this mountain again. Keep going, avoiding a few smaller trails that drop down to the valley on your right. Once you pass through a small wet bowl created by an underground stream, you'll be on top of the prominent trail that you viewed from the parking lot. Lots of fun here as you run and hop straight down this loose scree slope. The trail then enters trees again and arrives at the signed junction. Then, lastly, follow your way down to the parking lot.

    We have witnessed different experiences in this mountain, poured emotions in every step of the way, but the most important lesson is to never give up and push yourself on what you might have been afraid of doing before. We come to the mountains to be humbled. And, we are humbled indeed. There will always tough times, regardless of what you do in life. Be able to push through those times and keep on your ultimate goal.

    Today, K8 is the home of Pinoy Mountaineers here in Alberta whether freshly from the Philippines or long-time residence, setting up a goal of sharing the beauty of the mountains thru responsible mountaineering and producing more Pinoy Alpinist.

    Interested in joining the K8 Mountaineering Club of Alberta?

    You may reach us at (587) 228-2989 or send and email to k8mountainclub.ab@gmail.com

    Read our July 2020 Issue here

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