Consulate Brings “Pinoy Christmas” to Calgary


The Consul General of the Philippines together with some local organizations celebrated Christmas with our kababayans Filipino style. The three-hour celebration featured Filipino food, Christmas carols and a parol (Christmas lantern) making contest. About 230 members of the Filipino community joined the Consulate.

Consul General Zaldy Patron thanked all those who attended and their partner organizations and conveyed the government’s greetings. He also shared the accomplishments of the consulate in terms of delivering consular services and implementing cultural and economic diplomacy.

ConGen Patron took the opportunity to discuss programs of the consulate which includes 2020 Presidential Awards for Outstanding Individuals and Organizations Overseas. He encouraged fellow Filipinos to register and vote for the 2020 midterm elections in the Philippines.

The celebration was also attended by members of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly, MLA Peter Singh and MLA Devider Toor.

Entertain Like a Pro


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 1⁄2 ounces fresh sage
  • 1 lb bacon (uncooked)
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  •  salt and pepper  to taste


  1.  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.
  2. Chop onion and garlic and mix together.  Stuff the turkey with the mixture.
  3. 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
  4. Place uncooked bacon slices all over the skin of the uncooked turkey. 
  5. 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.
  6. 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. 

Have a great holiday!


Chef John Nidua is the Executive Chef at The International Hotel of Calgary. He is also the owner of PAO (Filipino inspired steamed buns).

Here’s What I Know

‘Tis the season to be jolly!  A wonderful season of LOVE and SHARING.  A season for family and those we hold dear to our hearts.   And alas, a season for over-spending and over-indulgence. We are a generous lot, us Filipinos.  We are a loving, giving people. We love to share our blessings - sometimes to our detriment.  We also love Christmas. In fact, we love it so much that in the Philippines, Christmas is celebrated for about 4 ½ months – from Sept. 1st to about Jan. 15th, when all the decorations come down. Such devotion and dedication to the faith is both enviable and admirable.  It takes an unwavering commitment to one’s values, to partake in this annual ritual which can take a toll on someone, emotionally and financially. Such loving and sharing however, comes at a price.  A financial price tag that must eventually be addressed. I’ve seen many go into insane debt, just for the sake of being with their loved ones in the Philippines, doing everything they can to make them happy.  I’ve seen many spend money they have yet to earn, just to be “home” for that all-important time of the year. There’s really nothing wrong with wanting to be with those you love, for Christmas.  What is disheartening is the amount of resources it takes to make this happen. That, and the amount of time it’ll take to balance your cheque book, so to speak. It’s not my problem of course, but when I deal with this situation daily and see clients struggling with out-of-control spending; maxed-out credit cards; 29.9% interest rates; delinquent credit records and plummeting credit scores; people on the verge of repossession or worse, bankruptcy; it becomes alarming, and I feel compelled to reach out and educate/warn/help when I can. As I see it, the problem lies not in our generous spirit, but in our unwillingness to say NO.  Regardless of our personal situation, when someone from back home asks – medical emergencies, weddings, graduation, baptism, starting a business, whatever the reason, our first impulse is to help, even if we didn’t have the money or resources to give.  I don’t know why we have the compulsion to help – even outside the immediate family, but it’s there, much to the detriment of many. Just the other day, I spoke to someone over the phone, who wanted to see if she could take out a loan for $10,000.  When asked what the loan was for, she explained that she had a family emergency in the Philippines a few months back and ended up borrowing $10,000 from a “Lending” company.  The problem is, she’s paying $500 in interest PER. $500 PER MONTH???? That’s crazy and illegal, I think! Then there’s this other individual who’s paying 34.9 percent interest on a $5000 loan taken out to finance a business venture.  Then there are the many who want to take out loans in order to finance the upcoming vacations to the Philippines. I am not here to lecture anyone on how to spend their money.  I mean, this is a free country and everyone’s free to spend their hard-earned $$$$$ the way they want to spend it.  Instead, I’d like to suggest a slight modification in the way we respond to cries for help:
  • IF YOU DON’THAVE IT, DON’T SPEND IT.  Don’t go into unnecessary debt for anyone
  • IF YOU MUST, BORROW MONEY RESPONSIBLY.  Make sure you can afford the additional debt.  Make sure you can pay it.
  • NOT ALL EMERGENCIES ARE LEGITIMATE – ask questions and offer alternate solutions
  • DON’T BE AN ENABLER.  Teach your loved ones to fend for themselves.  Just like what the bible says…. You can give them fish, or you can TEACH THEM HOW TO FISH.  
  • TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, BEFORE THINKING OF OTHERS.  Afterall, if you are weak – physically and financially, what good will you be to others?  Make yourself physically and financially strong first, and then you’ll be able to help others that much better.
  • BEFORE I COMMIT TO HELPING SOMEONE, I ASK MYSELF THIS QUESTIONS: If I died today, what will happen to him who is asking for my help?  The answer is always the same….. I’d be dead, and they’d be alive and seeking help from someone else.  So the moral of the story: you refusing to help, won’t be the end of the world. They’ll go ask someone else.  Promise.
  • THINK OF ALL THE MONEY YOU’VE GIVEN AWAY TO BENEFIT OTHERS.  Now, think how much better your life would be, if you had kept that money for you and your immediate family!
  • LEARN TO SAY NO.  Your well-being, and that of your immediate family is of paramount  importance.
If you find yourself in a financial bind and need someone to talk to, CALL ME AT 780.710.4895. I CAN HELP.  


Tony Surtida has been involved in the auto industry since 1990 and has had a long and distinguished career not only as a sales consultant but as a sales manager and finance manager as well.  He currently works a Finance Specialist at FILCAN CARS. His knowledge of the auto industry will be an invaluable tool for those in the market for a new or newer vehicle. The insight he shares in this column is a culmination of years of experience which he hopes will provide information one needs to make an informed choice.  Kung Sasakyan din lang naman, ‘wag nang kung saan-saan pa.  Kay Tony Surtida na!

Pinoys on Parliament calls for Delegates from the Prairies

Last year’s delegates standing in front of Parliament Hill. Photo credits to Ronan Mesa.

Ottawa, ON - Pinoys on Parliament, the first national youth conference for Filipino-Canadian youth extends its invitation to our kababayans in Alberta. Delegates are encouraged to register as soon as possible. 20 spots will be held for delegates in Alberta and the rest of the Prairies until January 1st, after which positions will be open to the general population on the waitlist.

Pinoys on Parliament is a three-day conference that brings together Filipino-Canadian youth in the nation’s capital. From February 21-23, 2020, delegates will have an opportunity to participate in workshops, networking events, and attend panels composed of notable Filipino-Canadian leaders.

“In a way, [Pinoys on Parliament] is a TED talk featuring Fil’ Can’ speakers who have found success in the fields of academia, business, entertainment and politics and want to give back to the next generation. It’s also an incubator where these same speakers connect with attendees through workshops and a mentee-mentor relationship. If you love listening to stories, if you feel encouraged by civic engagement, and if anecdotes motivate you to action, I know you’re going to love PoP,” says Ontario delegate Michael.

Aside from building connections with other delegates and professionals from other provinces and territories, participants will also have the opportunity to explore landmarks in Ottawa as well as engage with the Filipino community in the city. Last year, delegates toured the House of Commons and attended an event at the Philippine Embassy.
At the end of the conference, delegates will be invited to participate in a six-month mentorship program where they will be matched with leaders in sectors and areas of expertise who have interests and fields of work similar to theirs.

In keeping with this year’s theme of Magkasama, the Filipino word for “Together,” Pinoys on Parliament is excited to build bridges between Filipino-Canadians and provide a space where they can foster connections to lift, grow, and achieve their goals together as they traverse on their journey as future leaders of Canada.

To register for Pinoys on Parliament 2020, click here.

Post Graduation Work Permits – What You Need to Know.



International students are given a great opportunity after finishing their studies in Canada. Graduates from eligible Canadian institutions can apply to obtain an open work permit called Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). 

Residency Options If You Hold a Post Grad Work Permit

The Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) allows recent graduates to gain valuable Canadian work experience, which can grant additional points for immigration in the future with respect to an Express Entry. Skilled workers (under NOC A, O or B) who gained experience through the PGWP may qualify to apply for Permanent Residency. There are also different options within the provinces. The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program offers programs to assist new graduates with residency, for example.

Who Can Apply For A PGWP?

After graduation, international students may be granted a PGWP for up to a maximum of three years. To qualify, the student must have continuously studied full-time in Canada and must have completed a program of study that lasted at least eight months.

In addition, the student must have graduated from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution. Graduates must apply within 180 days of receiving written confirmation (for example, a transcript or an official letter) from the institution indicating they have met the requirements for completing the academic program.

The student must have completed and passed the school program and received notification that he or she is eligible to obtain their degree, diploma or certificate. The graduate must have a valid study permit when applying for the Post-Graduation Work Permit. It is very important to keep your status active. 

Students are ineligible for a PGWP if they have previously been issued a Post-Graduation Work Permit, participated in certain scholarship programs, completed most of their program of study by distance learning and/or completed a program of study delivered by a non-Canadian institution located in Canada, regardless of their length of stay in Canada.

English- as- a- second language or French- as- a- second language course or program of study, general interest or self-improvement courses and a course or program of study at a private career college are also not eligible for PGWP.

Do I Need to Apply From Within Canada?

The student may apply for a Post Graduation Work Permit from within Canada or from overseas. Graduates can apply within Canada if their study permit is still valid. If the applicant’s study permit is no longer valid, and they wish to remain in Canada, they must apply for visitor status before their study permit expires.

Former international students who change their status to visitor status before their study permit expires, while waiting for their notice of graduation from their institution, may also apply for a Post Graduation Work Permit from within Canada.

How Long is a PGWP Valid?

A Post Graduation Work Permit is normally issued based on the length of the study. A minimum of eight months up to a maximum of three years.

The PGWP validity period is never longer than the passport validity date of the applicant. If the applicant’s passport expires before the validity period of the PGWP, it is possible to apply for a work permit extension upon the renewal of their passport. Applicants can receive only one Post Graduation Work Permit in their lifetime.

Do I Need a LMIA If I Hold a PGWP?

No. Another advantage of the PGWP is being exempt from Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA). A PGWP is an open permit and allow graduates to work full-time, part-time and as self-employed.

Can I Work Full Time While Waiting for a Decision on My PGWP?

Applicants may work full-time in Canada while waiting for a decision on their PGWP application as long as they applied before the study permit expiration. 

Are you considering studying in Canada or a Post Grad Work Permit? Contact us directly anytime to set up a free consultation, we’re always here to help. /

Written by: 

Leann Iamartino; 

Senior Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant; Commissioner of Oaths 

Foothills Immigration Inc.

Source –

Immigration columnist, Leann Iamartino


Fun Page


The Boys are Back in Town!



    By: Lindsay Santos

    Photo Credit: the PNBLSA Facebook Page

    The Philippine bobsled team are back in Calgary to continue training as they work towards their goal of becoming the first Southeast Asian bobsled team to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics. 

    The team proved that they are a force to be reckoned with when they won bronze at the Alberta Cup Provincial Championship back in March – a feat made even more impressive considering that compared to their Canadian counterparts, they had significantly less practice time on the ice track and very little experience under their belt.

    Philippine Coast Guardsmen Jerby Deriada, Jeffrey Dela Cruz, and Joseph Acosta are joined by new member, Rey Fernandez, after the retirement of Sid Isidro.

    “This time around, our athletes are much better prepared because they’ve undergone more refined pre-season training, they will have more training time here than they did last winter, and they have access to better equipment so there will be major improvements,” says Buddy Cunanan, Philippine National Bobsled, Luge, and Skeleton Association, Inc. (PNBLSA) founder and president.

    Pre-season training in the Philippines focused on bobsled- specific exercises. In order to develop the explosive power needed for bobsledding, the team tapped into the services of one of the finest strength and conditioning performance coaches in the Philippines, Jay Lopez. 

    “Our guys were also able to focus on track work twice a week at a proper oval in Ateneo University that simulated the same movement and running technique for the push-start,” Cunanan says. Post-training, the team would head straight to the physical recovery centre in the Philippines that helps athletes’ bodies recover through different machines and therapies.” 

    Due to the closure of WinSport’s ice track, the team will split their practice time between Calgary and Whistler, BC. They will practice perfecting their push-start at Calgary’s Ice House and head to Whistler with the Alberta Bobsleigh Association (ABA) to practice ice track driving for a few weeks. On November 17th, the team will compete in the next Alberta Cup Provincial Championship in Whistler. Cunanan is hopeful that the Filipino community will come together again to help cheer the Philippine bobsled team on to victory.

    “Last Alberta Cup was a fantastic success because so many Filipinos came to cheer for our guys,” he said. “The amazing turnout and support brought the entire place to life and the athletes felt so inspired. It really contributed a great deal to their success.”

    The PNBLSA would like to renew their ties to the Filipino community in Calgary and establish the same kind of synergy with the Filipino community in Whistler. 

    “We welcome any help that anyone wants to extend, even if they just want to come watch their practices, make the guys feel welcome by inviting them out, volunteer to help them get around the city, donate, everything makes a difference,” Cunanan says.

    The PNBLSA’s plan for this season is to work closely with Fiesta Filipino to build up awareness, moral support and to continue fundraising efforts. Cunanan acknowledges that corruption in sports in the Philippines has always been a big issue but stresses that the PNBLSA has a commitment to the community to be fully open, transparent, and accountable to the last cent where expenses and money are concerned.

    “We realize that donations come from all sorts of people that make hard earned money so we have a moral obligation to not do anything that would ruin or besmirch the people’s confidence,” Cunanan says. 

    For more information and the latest news on the PNBLSA, follow their Facebook page under The Philippine National Bobsled, Luge, and Skeleton Association.

    Victim’s Family Say They Have Lost Their Voice with Review Board


      by Darlene Casten

      A Filipino couple who’s son was one of five young people stabbed to death at a get-together at the end of the university year five years ago say the justice system continues to fail them as their son’s killer gained more freedoms last month.

      Matthew de Grood was found not criminally responsible for the deaths on account of a mental disorder of Zackariah Rathwell, 21, Jordan Segura, 22, Josh Hunter, 23, Kaitlin Perras, 23 and Lawrence Hong, 27.

      Hong’s parents, Marlene and Lawrence, travelled to Edmonton to Edmonton Sept. 17 to read a victim impact statement at de Grood’s latest review board hearing.

      “I cannot even sit after I finish my impact statement,” recalls Marlene. “I have to leave. Actually I broke down.”

      Despite the emotional toll, the Hong’s say they feel compelled to attend de Grood’s hearings.

      “That’s the only time they could hear our feedback or how we feel,” says Marlene. “Other than that we don’t have much voice.”

      However, the Hongs say their words seem to be having little impact. Following de Grood’s latest hearing the board agreed with his treatment team’s recommendation for 24-hour unsupervised passes. Last year de Grood was moved from the Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre to the Alberta Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Edmonton.

      The Hongs say it is unlikely de Grood will be in Calgary while on unsupervised passes, but say they are worried for others that may come in contact with him.

      “Personally it doesn’t affect us, but we don’t want other people to be in the shoes that we are in,” says Lorenzo.

      Marlene adds that the treatment team determined if de Grood does relapse, it will be “unexpected, rapid, extreme and with multiple victims”.

      The Hongs say that despite their concerns, they expect that de Grood will soon be released into a halfway home and then given full release.

      “It seems he is on fast track to be released,” says Lorenzo. “After a year or two he will be on full release – no supervision or anything”

      Marlene and Lorenzo say they feel people who are found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder, should be supervised for the rest of their lives in a hospital.

      “The medication he is getting improved his mental health, and that is a good thing,” she explains. “But bottom line it is our system. Our health system makes people well and that is not our objective.”

      Marlene says many people are shocked to hear that de Grood is now able to leave the psychiatric hospital on his own. She says it shows that most Canadians don’t understand the justice system’s provisions for people found not criminally responsible.

      “He shouldn’t be in an environment where he can hurt other people,” says Lorenzo.

      Ginataang Kalabasa Vegan Soup


      Last year, I came up with this recipe with a vegetarian friend in mind. We all were together for Thanksgiving and most of the dishes were not vegetarian friendly.

       I was planning to make ginataang kalabasa, but decided to turn it into a stand-alone dish that would have more of a broad appeal. The soup is simple enough to do in a single pot. 

      I highly recommend that you puree the soup in a blender and pass it through a cone strainer to give the soup a smoother consistency! Also, chill and whip any extra coconut cream in a cold bowl until it forms stiff peaks. Use this whipped coconut cream and nutmeg to garnish the soup.

      Ginataang Kalabasa Soup (serves 4)


      • 1 butternut squash, medium-sized, peeled, seeded and diced
      • ½ onion, finely diced
      • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
      • 4 cups vegetable stock
      • ½ cup coconut cream
      • Sachet; with bay leaf, peppercorns and thyme
      • pinch nutmeg
      • salt to taste
      • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil


      1. In a medium soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat and sweat the onions and garlic.
      2. Once the onions are soft, add the squash and cook out, giving the squash a little colour.
      3. Deglaze the pot with the vegetable stock. Add the herb sachet and bring the soup up to a simmer.
      4. Slowly simmer the soup until the squash has softened, to the point of it breaking down. Season to taste with the salt and nutmeg.
      5. Using a blender, puree the soup into a smooth consistency. If possible, strain off the soup with a fine mesh sieve.
      6. Serve hot and garnish with extra coconut cream and nutmeg.

      Sarah Geronimo: This 15 Me Live in Canada


      by Chelsea Tan

      Sarah Geronimo fans lined up outside of the Grey Eagle Casino on September 22nd to catch their favorite artist in concert for the second time around. The singing sensation first came to Calgary in 2015, and this year she came back to celebrate 15 years in the industry to promote her latest album titled “This 15 Me,” which is meant to be read as This Is Me. Known for her chart-topping hits and pristine reputation, the star brought excitement to the crowd as they awaited her presence on stage.

      Mars Antonio, a long-time fan, had seen her in concert multiple times but expressed unwavering excitement. “This is the third or fourth time [i’m seeing Sarah in concert]. Kasi idol ko siya eh. Maganda yung boses nya, she’s sexy, she’s beautiful and talented.” (She’s my idol. She’s got a beautiful voice, she’s sexy, she’s beautiful and talented.)

      Jan Vincent, another concert-goer, had been following Sarah’s career since the very beginning. “This is the first time i’m gonna watch Sarah G’s concert and i’ve been a follower of hers since Star for a Night. I’m really excited to see the concert live with Sarah and Sam Concepcion.”

      The crowd went wild as Sarah entered the stage with G-Force Angels Gelai and Mica. She performed popular hits such as Tala (Star) and Kilometro (Kilometre), exciting the crowd with her dance moves.

      “Alam nyo po, isa sa mga ine-enjoy ko talaga and pinapasalamatan ko ay yung nakapag-record po ako ng mga original Filipino songs.” (You know, one thing I really enjoy and am grateful for is the opportunity to record original Filipino songs.)

      Sam Concepcion, a fellow singer, dancer, and actor,  joined Sarah onstage, pulling even more momentum from the crowd as he went down to greet the concert goers sitting on either side of the stage.

      The night was a success, one to remember amid the bright neon lights.

      “It’s such a wonderful feeling everytime you get to perform your own original songs in a foreign country. Katulad nga po dito sa Canada, ff proud to be Pinoy tayo. (Like here in Canada, you can really feel proud to be Filipino)”, she declared with a big smile.

      Calgary Weather

      broken clouds
      1.7 ° C
      8 °
      -2.8 °
      1 °
      -4 °
      2 °
      3 °
      -2 °

      Philippine Exchange