Here’s what I know


By Toni Surtida

Early in my career in the auto industry, I had an experience so profound that it affected how I conduct my business.

I was working at West Edmonton Chrysler as a sales consultant when I met this gentleman, whom I’ll call Daniel. He was a recent immigrant to Canada and just bought (and financed) a little four-door from one of our sales personnel. He was happy to be getting his first major purchase. I was happy for him as well, congratulated him and offered my services to him, even though he didn’t buy the vehicle from me. A few days later I even called him just to make sure everything was OK. He said everything was fine. I never heard back from him, but about two months later his wife came to see me and told me that Daniel had died suddenly from a heart attack. She was still grieving and had to find out what to do with the car her husband bought. I didn’t know what transpired when Daniel purchased the vehicle, but the business office did, so I turned her over to the business manager. To make a long story short, she had to give the vehicle back and had to struggle for a couple of years until she was able to purchase a vehicle on her own.

Fast forward to September 2008, I had just returned to the auto industry after a four-year absence. I had just taken over the lease maturity office when this lady came to see me. She was in her early sixties and. her son was with her. I could just feel all the emotions building up inside of her when she informed me that her husband – Armand passed away barely a month ago. He had a massive stroke and was instantly taken away from her. They were together for 40 years. She explained that Armand had leased a vehicle from the dealership about a year ago, and now that he’s gone, she wanted to know what would happen to the vehicle. She prayed that she wouldn’t have to give it up because this was the only vehicle they had, and she needed it to get to and from work. I pulled the original lease documents and both she and I sat down with the business manager, who took care of the documents a year ago,) and reviewed the file. To her complete amazement she was informed that she could keep the car to the end of the contract and all her car payments would be taken care of until the end of the lease.

Here’s what I know…. the above stories while similar had different endings. Armand secured his car loan with a Life & Disability Insurance, while Daniel did not. Armand made sure his family was protected so that if something were to ever happen to him, they wouldn’t have to struggle with the car payments. His wife and family were glad he did.

Life and disability insurance is typically offered the car buyer right before signing the bank documents. Quite often this option is declined by the buyer. Unfortunately, catastrophic events do happen in life. If we’re not prepared, then we suffer the consequences.

Next time you buy a vehicle, ask your sales consultant about life and disability insurance.

Question of the week

Question: I leased a 2016 minivan three years ago. My payments are $650 per month. My wife and I are working a lot fewer hours now and we’re having a hard time with the car payments. What can we do to lower the payment?

Answer: There are a couple of things that comes to mind.

Find out what your payoff amount is, then take out a loan to payout that lease. You can apply for the loan at your bank, or have the car dealership do it for you. Find out how much your payments will be for different terms (48 months, 60 months or 72 months), and then decide which payment suits you best.

Trade the vehicle in and enjoy another new vehicle. This is very possible. During these tough economic times rebates, discounts and all kinds of incentives abound. I bet your car dealer can take you out of your old vehicle and into a new (or newer) and keep your payments the same or better. Ask your sales consultant. They’ll be well equipped to answer all your questions.

Questions may be directed to

The Plate Department


Zac Ardena is one of the newer additions to the Calgary culinary talent pool. This George Brown Chef School graduate has worked in many high-profile restaurants and hotels in Toronto, such as Momofuku and the Ritz Carlton. Zac seeks to become a voice for Filipino cuisine and culture through his writing, food and videos. At the moment, he works as a Chef de Partie at Blink Restaurant and Bar.


Scotch Kwek Kwek

This appetizer dish is something I came up with for last year’s “Balik Kultura” event at Oxbow; where I, along with 3 other Filipino chefs, came up with our own personal takes on our favorite Filipino dishes. There’s nothing I love more than relaxing with a cold beer after a day in a hot kitchen. This unique take on kwek kwek, a battered and fried quail egg, is a great pulutan that goes perfectly with your favorite cold drink.



12 Quail Eggs

1 lb longganisa sausage meat, removed from casing

1 Cup All-Purpose Flour plus ½ Cup for dredging

1 Cup Club Soda or Light Beer

2 Tbsp Ground Annatto

3 Tbsp Cornstarch

½ Tsp Baking powder

½ Tsp salt

1 Cup white vinegar

½ Cup water

1 quart of oil for frying



Boiling and peeling the quail eggs:

  1. Prepare an ice bath for the eggs to prevent them from overcooking after boiling.
  2. After bringing a pot of water to a rolling boil, carefully drop the eggs in and let boil for 2 minutes and 20 seconds. Immediately remove the eggs from the water and place into the ice bath.
  3. Combine the vinegar with the water in a container. Once the eggs have cooled, place the eggs in the vinegar mixture and let sit until the eggshells have softened. This may take at least 1 hour.
  4. Carefully peel the softened shell off the egg. Try finding the bubble on one end of the egg and slowly work from there.


Preparing the batter and frying:

  1. Heat the oil in a small pot or wok on medium-high heat, or at approximately 355°F (or 180°C).
  2. Combine the 1 cup of flour with the corn starch, annatto, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Slowly whisk the soda water or beer into the flour mixture until it forms a smooth batter, with the consistency of pancake batter.
  3. Separate the longganisa meat into 12 even portions. Wrap each quail egg with the longganisa meat.
  4. Dredge each wrapped egg in the remaining flour then dip into the batter. Make sure the egg is completely covered in the batter!
  5. Fry for about 3 minutes, then remove from oil on to a paper towel lined plate.
  6. Once cool, enjoy with your favorite kwek kwek dipping sauce!


Studying in Canada simpler and faster with Study Direct Stream


The Study Direct Stream (SDS) provides a streamlined study permit application process for students who will directly enter their program or course of choice at an eligible Canadian school. Because of faster processing time and fewer financial documents required, the application process is much simpler for Filipinos.

Some international students can get their study permits faster by using the Student Direct Stream. Most Student Direct Stream applications will be processed within 20 calendar days if you are eligible.

Who can apply

To be eligible for faster processing through the Student Direct Stream, you must:

  • Be a legal resident living in China, India, the Philippines, or Vietnam
  • Have an acceptance letter from a post-secondary designated learning institution
  • Prove that you’ve paid the tuition fees for your first year of study
  • Live outside of Canada when you apply
  • Have a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of C$10,000
  • Get a medical exam before you apply
  • Get a police certificate before you apply
  • Have a language test result that shows:
  • a score of 6.0 or higher in each skill (reading, writing, speaking and listening) on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or
  • a Test d’évaluation de français (TEF) score that is equal to a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score of at least 7 in each skill (reading, writing, speaking and listening)

Who isn’t eligible for the Student Direct Stream

If you live in another country (even if you’re a citizen of one of the countries above), you have to apply through the regular study permit application process.

If you don’t meet the eligibility for faster processing, you may still be eligible for a study permit through the regular study permit application process.

Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC)

A GIC is a Canadian investment that has a guaranteed rate of return for a fixed period of time. Many banks offer GICs. The bank that gives you the GIC must confirm that you bought a GIC by giving you one of the following:

  • a letter of attestation
  • a GIC certificate
  • an Investment Directions Confirmation or
  • an Investment Balance Confirmation
  • hold the GIC in an investment account or a student account that you can’t access until you arrive in Canada
  • make you confirm your identity before they release any funds to you
  • release the funds to you by providing:
  • an initial lump sum once you identify yourself upon arrival in Canada
  • the remainder of the funds in monthly or bi-monthly installments over 10 to 12 months

If your bank or GIC doesn’t meet these criteria, you won’t be able to apply through the Student Direct Stream.

The following banks offer GICs that meet the criteria:

  • Bank of Beijing
  • Bank of China
  • Bank of Montreal
  • Bank of Xian Co. Ltd.
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
  • HSBC Bank of Canada
  • ICICI Bank
  • Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
  • RBC Royal Bank
  • SBI Canada Bank
  • Scotiabank

Bring your spouse, partner or child with you to Canada

Your spouse, common-law partner and dependent children may also be able to get faster processing on a visitor visa, work permit or study permit. You must complete and submit their applications at the same time as your own.

Written by:

Leann Iamartino;

Senior Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant; Commissioner of Oaths

Foothills Immigration Inc.

Source –

Alberta Filipinos Cast Their Votes in Philippine General Election


By: Adrian Dayrit

Filipinos in Alberta cast their overseas ballots in the Philippine National Election, which was held May 13.

Registered Filipino voters in Alberta were mailed their ballots and could deliver the ballots to the consulate in person or mail them in before the date of the election. Over 1,000 Filipinos in Canada mailed their ballots to the Philippine Consulate General in Calgary.

Though over 18,000 political posts were up for election across the country, the 12 senatorial positions up for grabs were the most watched, as it acted as a referendum for President Duterte’s policies.

Bato de la Rosa garnered the most votes from Filipinos in Alberta followed Doc Willie Ong and Bong Go. The party list that received the most votes from Filipinos in Alberta were the ACT-CIS followed by the AA-KASOSYO Party.

The voter turn-out for this election is reported at 74.3 %, which is down from the last midterm election in 2013, with a reported 77% turn-out.

“Some people had difficulty getting their ballots or couldn’t vote at all because they had changed their addresses or phone numbers.” says voter Benjie Lindo, Chairperson of Duterte Volunteers of Alberta Canada. “I was registered so I had no issues voting. I just wanted to vote pro- Duterte senators.”

Nine of the 12 elected senators are pro-Duterte and three are independents.

Opposition to Duterte is now a minority in the 24-seat Senate, which will allow the President to enact his more controversial policies without opposition.

The policies include re-enacting the death penalty and lowering the age of criminal liability to 12 years old.



Lenten Season – A Test of Faith



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The parent or grandparent must also do the following:

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

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

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


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






Filipino candidates shut out in Provincial election

Cesar Cala

By Adrian Dayrit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Cesar Cala is making history in Alberta’s Provincial Elections

Cesar Cala

By Edwin Badosa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Alberta’s Provincial election is April 16.


Calgary Teacher Admits to Sex Related Offences


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sarile is now awaiting sentencing.

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