A Different Kind of Help

images_immigrantThe recent news of the Canadian government fast tracking immigrant applications of Pinoys who were affected by typhoon Ondoy wasn’t exactly received with accordant approval by the locals and various immigrant communities in this country.  Many doubt the sincerity of the humanitarian act, for more severe  natural calamities and conflicts of a global scale displaced  so many people in the past but Canada did not step up to the plate to make a similar announcement.  Some call the humanitarian gesture as contrived and nothing more than the Conservative Party’s posturing for  political points for the 2010 elections.   The news story comments at the bottom of the article gives a barometer of what people think about the announcement. For me, the comments in reaction to the news gives me a sense of perspective as how the Pinoy is viewed in this country.  As expected, plaudits and pundits alike aired their share of conciliatory and dissenting views on the issue.  Some are straight up to the point in their comment – why give such preferential treament to Pinoys ? Some were equally scathing with sarcasm with their remark ” I’d prefer 10,000 Pinoys to 1 terrorist. Let them come ” .   The ultimate kicker would be this question  “If the Filipinos are such hard workers and resourceful why is their country such a mess?”

What people don’t understand is with this announcement, Canada isn’t accepting refugees or displaced people in dire need of life support. These are legit and qualified applicants in the family reunion and independent immigrant classes who pay up to get here. In most cases, they are vouched for by their immediate relatives who sign an affidavit of support, a legal document that guarantees financial support for 10 years. This means that for 10 years, these new arrivals cannot apply for government welfare subsidy if for some reason the aren’t able to support themselves. An of course, all of them should be spring chicken healthy because health care is free in this country and the government is not eager too put too much stress on the health care system. It’s still the game of admitting an asset versus a liability. Moreover, the fast tracking is only for those applicants who can prove that typhoon Ondoy had damaged their homes and affected their lives.

How many applications does the government plan to fast track? 10,000? 5000? They haven’t given any figure. Say 5,000 for the sake of argument, about 2% of the annual immigrant quota of 250,000. How much will these people get charged to be processed ? Let’s assume that 40% are adults and 60% children below 22 years. Children are the more important demographic variable because they are expected to reproduce and contribute more to the population growth rate of the country. We also know that these people will be valuable taxpayers of the future, who would be paying a third of their earnings to the government for the right to live here.

Adults = 2,000
Children = 3,000

Adult application processing fee = $550
Adult landing fee upon granting of immigrant visa = $490
Children application processing fee = $150
Children landing fee = $0

Total adult application fees = 2,000 x $550 = $1,100,000
Total adult landing fees = 2,000 x $490 = $ 980,000
Total children app fees = 3,000 x $150 = $ 450,000

Total fees = $ 2,530,000

To those people who think that the Canadian government is doing one heck of a favor to the victims of Ondoy better think twice. Collectively, these folks would fork the equivalent of about 101,000 million pesos in fees to get here. And if we were to talk about greatest good for the greatest number, that kind of money could have done much more if spent on rehabilitating the flood damaged areas. Canada donated $5M to the flood relief fund and looks like they might recoup half of it with the fast tracking announcement. All of a sudden the political posturing conspiracy theory might not be such a bad speculation after all because the announcement in my view lacks the merits of a true humanitarian proposition.


 images_loonieI am always fond of the Pacific Mall, the largest indoor Asian mall in North America. It is predominantly Chinese and hosts an amazing array of very reasonably priced Asian restaurants and fast food joints. But when I get to this place, I always get that get a sense of being thrown in a different world. Right at the huge but often full parking lot, I perceive a slight breakdown of people’s driving decorum, where basic driving courtesy somehow takes a back seat and people seem to think that they are playing the game of musical chair when seizing a parking spot. If you fall in line at the ATM kiosk or just queuing up on a fast food stall, people could jump the queue on you. I don’t know what is is – Chinese or Asian adrenalin for competition when everyone else looks like them. This also the place where you can haggle with the price at your liking for there doesn’t seem to be any price control concept of any sort. Everybody tries to one up each other. Heck, I even get the feeling that if slip fall on the floor, no one is going to help you get back to your feet.

Last Friday, about an hour before closing time, my wife passed by a rather trendy shop and got interested with a jacket that looked perfect for the fall season. In the end she ended up trying to buy a couple of jackets and a couple of blouses and after haggling with the attendant came to agreement for the price of $130 down from $155. I then told the attendant I’d be getting the money from the ATM, and within a few minutes came back to hand her the $130. Then she asked my wife for 3 dollars more for the ” slight miscalculation” . She got the 3 bucks and then said, “ oh no, you only gave me $133. I’m expecting you to give me $153″. What an ass. To make the story short, my horns grew stiff and smoke came out of my ears and I told her ” Don’t bloody lie. Give our money back. I don’t want your stuff anymore. I am calling security right now”. My wife was more composed and took control of the situation and got the stuff. The attendant tried to pull a fast one on us but failed. It could have been worse if she denied that we gave her the money. Strictly cash. No taxes. No receipts. No proof of payment. You can’t return nor exchange. No consumer protection for shoddy products. You’re back to horse trading like the medieval ages. This is what you get when you try to make the buying game a scrap for the almighty loonie.

45 Responses

  1. […] The rest is here: A Different Kind of Help […]

  2. well said bro. but what struck me the most was the statement “If the Filipinos are such hard workers and resourceful why is their country such a mess?”. come to think of it, the statement has a point although the one who said it must have not included politics and government into the equation.

    • People are free to say anything they want in the comments section as long as they don’t use derogatory language. I think the question arose from one of the earlier comments which said that Pinoys are hardworking and resourceful workers and they can be an asset to this country. Then a pundit asked the question – if so, then why their country is in a mess ? There were many positive and redeeming comments for the Pinoy as well 😎

      • hey hey hey, you just won in the PBA09 for Best Filipino Blog Abroad. Yoohoo!!!

        • Are you serious ??? I know you’re at the ceremony so you must be hahaha 🙂

          I got this comment on my Blackberry while on the train to work. Now I should have steak for breakfast to pamper myself 😆

          Thanks so much for the news. I got to see the list coz I was hoping my finalist friends like you to bag the the salami and cheese in their category as well.. cheers bro 🙂

  3. I read several reactions, too. It’s not really giving a favor to Filipinos, but just a matter of prioritizing (with kindness, of course). Other governments may not do that though.

    • This is the first time the fast track announcement happened and the Pinoy being the recipient of such goodwill. My post simply says that people must not jump and down thinking that hordes of Pinoys are being accomodated for free because they were displaced by the calamity. Of course it still boils down to the fact that we get that preference because most of us come to this country and work hard to better our lives, obey the rules and participate in nation building and not blow it up 😯

  4. just like any western dealings on 3rd world countries, they let you think they are doing you a favor but actually, you end up on the lossing end of the bargain.

    as for that mall, parang divisoria at cartimar sa pasay pala yan. if you’re not carefull, the’ll try to “short change” you.

    • remember that American base issue in the past. The US was paying Spain and Turkey 2 billion dollars per year for their bases yet only paid $300M to Pinas for the largest naval ( Subic) and air force (Clark)bases outside the US. Worse, they called the payment as economic aid 😦

  5. I read about the Canadian gesture last week on the Inquirer, and boy were there lots of hoopla from Canadians and non-Canadians alike in the comments section. I guess many of those who were howling in protest didn’t even bother to read the entire article, he he.

    • You bet most of the pundits are the immigrant groups who protest of the preferential treatment towards Pinoys. Interestingly, one local commented the fact that we Pinoys easily integrate with their society and we don’t form silos or ghettos. Others we saying that because we are all Christians, the Conservative parties are expecting votes from us hehehe.. all wild speculations of course 😉

  6. I feel sorry for the victims of the flood. So much is happening in Asia these days. Flood, earthquakes, tsunamis. It’s scary.

    • very true. The climatic upheavals in Asia is very disturbing. Perhaps the environment is clamoring of the way we humans treat it 😯

  7. Don’t you think it’s a humanitarian gesture in a way because when these Pinoys enter Canada, they’ll get decent jobs and will then be able to start sending money back home and somehow help their respective families devastated by typhoon Ondoy rebuild their lives faster.

    • The fact remains that these applicants who are being fastracked have their applications in file which means that they have paid the processing fees ( which are non-refundable regardless of the outcome ). They will pay the landing fee one the application is approved. All what the government plans to do is accelerate their processing to those who have been affected by Ondoy. This gesture is appreciated but the govt must not brag about its humanitarian merits because frankly, they haven’t even mentioned how many they are planning to fastrack. In the end, this government isn’t spending any penny to accomodate them – they would be getting the windfall for the fees.

      As backgrounder. This present Conservative minority government had just narrowly survived a vote of no confidence at the parliament a week before Ondoy happened. They were fortunate that the other parties supported them, thanks to the Socialist party that abstained in the voting. If the votes were otherwise the parliament would have been annuled and an election called. Therefore many speculate that the Conservatives are playing for political points with the fastrack announcement. for the next year’s elections 😉

      Having said the above, the Pinoy still gets credit for the announcement, for being given the preference given that this country is still on the road to recovery from the recession. As one commenter on the article said ” I haven’t met a Pinoy I never liked ” 😆

  8. These days, anything the government does is subject to intense scrutiny. Politics is everywhere.

    Man, you make me think that shopping at Walmart is heaven 🙂

    • Earlier this year at the same mall one irate customer shot someone who allegdly ripped him off in a cell phone deal. It could get real ugly if you get cheated point blank 😯

  9. We have a similar Asian mall here called Pacific East Mall that houses 99 Ranch Market where we buy both fresh produce and meat and cooked food. I do find a lot of Chinese older people cutting in line and speaking to the clerk in Chinese and no body even tells this old geezer (pardon the term) that this is America and we need to follow some rules around here. Sometimes I don’t mind, you know don’t sweat the small stuff.

    Where ever you want to go would require money, right? Why not Canada, free health care and I haven’t really heard of mistreatment of Canadians towards the Pinoys except that story about the principal (I think) and the boy who wanted to use spoon to eat his baon with sabaw 🙂

    • I also don’t sweat on the small stuff but I sense a lack of unity when I come to Asian malls. One time I saw a Caucasian women get peeved when she asked for a few drops of hot sauce from a food stall. The Chinese man refused to give her any because she didn’t buy her food from him. She was quite embarrassed and came back, told the man ” It’s OK, I got some from that Canadian guy over there – pointing at another stall”

      The fees are outrageous nowadays. In the old days, a family unit only paid $102 dollars in processing fee and nothing more.

  10. Such “fast tracking gesture” in the PinoyLand could have the Canadian Govt under fits of rage from who else? Human Rights Advocates and other Rights Groups if they really wanted to. These groups could always argue “what about other countries” affected by the brunts of Mother Nature.

    10 years in Canada before immigrants get benefits and privileges WHILE the US is Five Years! No wonder the US is broke.

    • That’s true. People always scrutinize the actions of government particularly with immigration policies.It does look like a feather in the cap for the Pinoys. Perhaps we are a people who aren’t too keen on going on welfare and prefer to work to earn a living. Nor do we come here with the intent to rob banks as profession.

      If you can prove that you have money to support yourself for a year, no need for a relative to sign affidavit of support.

      The fees aren’t small. A Pinoy couple could spend about P100,000 for the application. Half of it is non refundable fee regardless of the outcome. Many years ago such couple would only spend $102 or P4,000.

      I estimate that with the annual quota, this country rakes in more than $200 million dollars from immigration fees. It’s good business.

  11. I guess politicians are the same all over the world… I think the world would be a better place without them…

    “my horns grew stiff and smoke came out of my ears”… oh…now I understand your avatar. 🙂

    • No one really seems to trust politicians anymore, no matter where you go 😦

      I have that strange feeling I couldn’t change my avatar any longer 😉

  12. It’s good to note that Canada is continually expecting entrance of immigrants from such countries as ours, giving that ray of hope for those who want to escape hard times in their homeland.

    I have relatives in Vancouver and they offered me immigration through payment but I didn’t take it seriously thinking it would be so difficult.

    Maybe I’ll take my chances again if it comes my way.

    • The purpose of immigration isn’t solely humanitarian in my opinion. Canada needs immigrants to sustain its population growth necessary to maintain its economic productivity. Sure, it allows refugees to come in but this percentage is very low.

      Other than pure family class reunion – spouses, children under 22 and aged parents, everyone else – brothers, sisters, relatives will have to be assessed by their education, employability, adaptability and health and the amount of money they will bring or financial sponsorship from their relatives before they can come. And of course the hefty immigration fees. I don’t call this humanitarian at all. They need you – you need them. It’s bothways like buisiness and not one sided as people think it is.

  13. Will the Canadian immigration approve your application even if you have a minor heart problem or you have to be completely healthy to enter the country as a migrant?

    • here is a link that explains the medical inadmissibilty policy for immigration :


      New immigrants aren’t covered by health care 3 months upon arrival. They have to get private insurance during the period.

      The exception would be petitions for spouse ( legal, common-law, conjugal) and dependent children who have medical conditions. In this case the govt will bear the brunt of their medical conditions as long as the illness doesn’t endanger the public. I give them high marks for this because this is truly a humanitarian and compassionate gesture.

      Here common law ( live in relationship) is a recognized status and the couple will get the same social benefits as if they are married. Religious fundamentalists will call this devilish but here the law of the land isn’t dictated by religion.

  14. Bro,


    You won the award for Best Filipino Abroad Blog at Philippine Blog awards 2009

    • Thanks so much for the news bro. I got Lawstude’s and your comments (as email) on my Blackberry while I was on my train to work and all of a sudden I messed up my crossword puzzle hahaha 🙂

      I know some folks were Tweeting at the awards venue and giving real time results but darn is so hard for me to get them on the Blackberry 😉

      Hey have to check the awards blog coz I’m pulling for you and Lawstude and some blog friends to bag the salami and cheese in the categories you’ve been nominated. The weather here sucks today but I’ll take this one to brighten my day 🙂 More so that the stock market is UP early today as well. I think I’ll have steak for breakfast 😆 cheers..

  15. Cogratulations, BW! Happy for you.

  16. I guess the Filipinos who have pending immigration applications at the Canadian Embassy were ecstatic with this announcement. It would speed things up for them.

    But I do understand your point. It’s not really an act of human kindness per se. But then again, it’s still a blessing.


    Gosh, my husband will not survive in that mall. He hates it when there are no fixed prices and when has to haggle like mad and deal with dubious merchants.

    Glad you stepped in and let your horns speak for yourself (LOL).

    • Sure, it is a blessing. For others it can be a blessing in disguise hahaha.. joke only 🙂

      We Pinoys always value the utang na loob and never hesitant to return the favor. Like me, I voted for the Conservative Party the first time I was allowed to vote. When I came, the Conservative party was the ruling government so I returned the favor 😉

      Haggling can be quite a drag when people you deal with cheat. There is no shortage of hustlers in this world. In truth, my wife’s purchase was one heck of a deal but it’s much better when you get a good deal and not get into a heated argument 😉

  17. ei, such a different kind of “help” but there are two sides of the coin. the victims of ondoy right now can’t apply there for we’re busy getting back on our feet. i said we because i’m one of them affected, my house flooded and almost reached the second floor in QC. my car’s not that lucky too and still unable to even move an inch since ondoy 😦

    • Sorry to hear about your predicament bro. but on one hand, glad to know that you and your family are safe and sound 🙂

      Exactly my point, that those affected are struggling with getting their lives back and then the thought of forking out more than P100,000 to immigrate to a country that is barely getting out of the recession isn’t that easy if people think about it seriously. True, Canada had created 30,000 more jobs last month, and it’s been positive for employment for the past 2 months but again, the economy is not stable yet and one must give himself 6 mos up to a year upon arrival to get going in this country. What break are they giving with Ondoy victims who are willing to immigrate ? Nada. If they waive the landing fee of $490, mabuti sana but as it looks, business as usual pa rin. They are putting too much weight on the admission as some kind of a privilege – sure but they must not call it humanitarian because it ain’t.

  18. This is a loaded topic.

    It’s a good thing I’ve never had any plans of going abroad. Hanggang visit siguro. If you look at Manila now, with right set of skills and experience, you can earn as much without the hassle of going somewhere else.

    • Sure, visiting other countries make you know your country more. I’ve seen Pinoys who came here to immigrate and went back to Pinas for good after 6 months. Immigration is not for everyone.

  19. Congrats for your award! Well deserved!

    • Thanks vm Sidney. I saw that the results are finally out ! Congrats to you too for bagging the salami and cheese on the best foreign blog covering the Pinoy scene. Well done my friend 🙂

  20. That news was a relief – considering that we have been waiting for almost 5 years to immigrate to Canada. Except that now, we are not sure if we want to go. After all, who can forego maids and not needing to have an appointment with friends just so you can see each other and a country where life may be hard for most but where you are a first class citizen and the sunset is at its most beautiful and smiles are just the sweetest? But we’ll see. Maybe when we see the papers saying we can go, we will feel differently. Maybe.

    Congratulations on winning in the 2009 Philippine Blog Awards!

    • Immigration isn’t for everyone. I know of Pinoys who come here and give up after 6 months and return home. In the end it was just a waste of time and money. Some people come for a visit first before deciding to apply which is a good idea.

      In my case, I’m content to know that I won’t get bankrupt should I get sick, or worry that my children’s future will go down the drain because they’re not college or university material. I can play golf every weekend and not break my piggy bank , drive 4 hours one way to go fishing and feel like I just went to the park. People have different reasons for coming over. To each his own they say.

      Thanks for dropping by. I appreciate it 🙂

      • That sounds beautiful too. Maybe we should consider the idea more (after all, we already filed for the application and paid for it too – haha). But we have also lived in the States for quite some time, hence the realizations. But I guess the US is not Canada. Thanks also for dropping by my site. Looking forward to reading more of you. 🙂

        • I work for an American multinational operating in Canada so I guess I know a little bit about the US too 😉

          It’s a little different out here coz you there is a partnership between government and the people in the pursuit of prosperity whereas in the States, everything is left to the private sector to drive the prosperity bandwagon. People have differing opinions of which system is better 😯

          Thanks for the comment. 😉

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