New Canadian Media
Thursday, 06 October 2016 11:16

Duterte a Grossly Misunderstood Leader

Commentary by Yul Baritugo in Vancouver

On October 7, Digong -- as he is known in shantytowns and barrios in Mindanao Island -- marks his first 100 days in office.

 He is a grossly misunderstood Philippine leader. His critics label his penchant for Filipino cuss words as shock politics.  Still others are at a loss as to whether he is the country’s saviour or simply a madman.

 Court records annulling his marriage to Elizabeth Zimmerman, his first wife, cited Duterte’s mental incapacity based on a psychologist’s report saying that Duterte suffered from “Antisocial Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. The report claimed that Duterte has an “inability for loyalty and commitment, gross indifference to others’ needs and feelings, heightened by a lack of capacity for remorse and guilt.”

The report also described Duterte as “a highly impulsive individual who has difficulty controlling his urges and emotions. He is unable to reflect on the consequences of his actions.”  Duterte himself has said he is “bipolar”.

A Moro President

His rant against U.S. President Barrack Obama labelling him as a “son of a whore”, according to sources, resulted in the release of Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad by the Abu Sayyaf, a self-styled Philippine affiliate of ISIS. The same group beheaded two Canadians earlier after Canada under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused to pay ransom money.

According to Southern Philippine sources, Muslims there now believe they have a Moro (Muslim peoples of the southern Philippines) president. The Norwegian release was a gift and no ransom was paid.

Close aides said he personally worked for the release of the hostage since Norway is host to the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Philippine Communist Party, National Democratic Front and New People’s Army to end a bloody 33-year insurgency that has cost over 100,000 lives.

Duterte’s worldview

Duterte is the epitome of a collective desire by a majority of people outside the Philippine capital -- described by outsiders as Imperial Manila -- to end a political dynasty dominated by 10 families that continue to run and dominate Philippine business and politics.

His worldview is best described as rural, but clearly anchored in the aspirations of the poor and marginalized. His blood lineage with the Maranao tribe made him a leader in the strife-torn Southern Philippines dominated by Muslims, although he is a Catholic.

Rodrigo "Rody" Roa Duterte is also a jurist and the first Mindanaoan to hold the office, and the fourth of Visayan descent. He was born in Maasin, Leyte but traces his roots to Danao, Cebu and his mom’s province Agusan.

The family later settled in Davao where his father became governor.  After a short political stint, his father worked with deposed strongman Ferdinand Marcos in the presidential palace Malacanang.

Duterte studied political science at the Lyceum of the Philippines University, graduating in 1968, before obtaining a law degree from San Beda College of Law in 1972. He then worked as a lawyer and was a prosecutor for Davao City, a highly urbanized city, before becoming mayor of Davao following the Philippine revolution in 1986 against the Marcos dictatorship.   

Duterte was among the longest-serving mayor in the Philippines: seven terms over 22 years.

Duterte the Punisher

Filipino Canadians generally support Duterte’s actions because our pet peeve is the endemic corruption in the country.

I covered Duterte’s Ateneo high school classmate, former Congressman Jesus “Jess” Dureza, now negotiating the peace process with rebels as a Congress reporter.   He observed that Duterte is a punisher. He then told the story about a bully who was terrorizing students outside their school. Duterte reportedly hunted down the bully and found him in a café.  He went straight up to the guy and punched him in the face.

I favour the way Duterte is handling the country’s problems.  His pivot to China and Russia has resulted in a halt to the planned Chinese fortified garrison in one of the man-made islands just 150 miles from Palawan.

The country cannot afford to blindly follow a tainted foreign policy influenced mostly by the United States which is currently waging a proxy war against many nations.

(Yul Baritugo is a retired editor with years of experience first as a justice and court reporter, later becoming business reporter and editor.  He also edited a now defunct Filipino Canadian magazine and later a Filipino Canadian newspaper. Yul is spearheading an effort to form a Collective of Immigrant Journalists. Reach him at yul3452@yahoo.ca)

Published in Commentary

by Melissa Shaw in Vancouver 

A new novel reflects on the experiences of Filipino Canadians through the story of one family, and aims to inspire newcomers to achieve their dreams. 

Eleanor Guerrero-Campbell’s novel, Stumbling Through Paradise: A Feast of Mercy for Manuel del Mundo, is a work of fiction inspired by the author's experiences working with immigrants. 

“Home – one's identity – is not geographic-based, it's not culture-based, it's not age-based. It's who you love and who loves you and who you care about and who cares about you,” says Guerrero-Campbell, who co-founded the non-profit organization Multicultural Helping House Society to assist newcomers with settlement, education, housing and employment in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“This is our home and we will never be torn when we think of home this way.” 

The story follows Josie and Manuel del Mundo's journey from the Philippines to Vancouver with their children. 

Manuel is a proud engineer who has trouble adjusting to his new work environment in Canada. Josie has a teaching background, but finds work as a cook and eventually becomes the chief executive officer of a catering company. 

“Home – one's identity – is not geographic-based, it's not culture-based, it's not age-based.”

Manuel later helps a caregiver in distress, which leads to an affair. His son Bobby discovers his father's secret, resulting in the family's separation. 

After a confrontation between father and son, Manuel has a heart attack. The next section of the novel focuses on the lives of the older del Mundo children: Sonia, who faces racial discrimination, and Bobby, who becomes involved in a Filipino gang.

The third section of the book focuses on the youngest child, Manolita, who becomes involved in politics. 

Familiar stories 

“When I was reading the book, I had to stop for a little bit and wipe my tears. It really resonated with me as a newcomer in Canada,” says Irene Querubin, who was born in the Philippines and now hosts the Vancouver radio program The Filipino Edition. 

Querubin was emcee at the book’s launch at the Creekside Community Centre in Vancouver. The event featured dramatic readings by members of Anyone Can Act Theatre, which sponsored the launch. 

Vancouver-Kensington New Democratic Party member of legislative assembly (MLA), Mable Elmore, B.C.’s first MLA of Filipino descent, read Manolita's political campaign speech from the book. Elmore says the novel captures the challenges and struggles immigrants face in Canada, including racial tensions and underemployment. 

She says although the Filipino community in B.C. is relatively young, she has noticed increasing participation of Filipino immigrants in their community through literary work, council presentations and musical performances. 

“When I was reading the book, I had to stop for a little bit and wipe my tears.”

Challenges for Filipino youth

Among those using the arts to promote inter-cultural dialogue are members of DALOY-PUSO, a mentorship and arts program for Filipino newcomers in high school. The group, whose name means “flowing from the heart” in Tagalog, benefitted from proceeds collected at the launch. 

“The mom and the dad are working three jobs and they don't have a lot of supervision at home,” Vancouver School Board youth settlement worker Adrian Bontuyan says of young newcomers. 

He explains that many mothers come to Canada from the Philippines through the Caregiver Program, through which they provide childcare in Canadian homes. After working for 24 months or 3,900 hours, they can apply to become permanent residents and bring their family members to Canada if their application is approved. 

Bontuyan says he will read Stumbling Through Paradise to learn about how he can further support immigrant youth and start discussions to help them understand their parents’ experiences. 

“The aspect of mentorship that [Guerrero-Campbell] mentioned is very important, because the youth need someone to look up to as an example of success and basically someone that the youth can be comfortable with sharing his or her struggles of being a newcomer,” he says. 

“They came all the way to achieve something and I want them to know that they can achieve their dreams.”

Guerrero-Campbell also explores the idea of home through her young characters. The del Mundos' daughter Sonia finds belonging through the satisfying relationships she builds with people in the Philippines and in Canada. 

Empowering other newcomers 

Guerrero-Campbell says she hopes people who have read her book will discuss it with others and start a dialogue about the challenges immigrants face. 

“The one message I really want to convey is empowerment – for our newcomers to feel empowered,” she says. “They came all the way to achieve something and I want them to know that they can achieve their dreams.” 

Guerrero-Campbell came to Canada in the late 1970s with a master's degree in urban planning and regional planning from the Philippines. She was a planner for the City of Edmonton, Alberta, and continued to work in planning in Surrey, B.C. and Richmond, B.C. 

She helped author Hiring and Retaining Skilled Immigrants: A Cultural Competence Toolkit for B.C. human resources managers. Guerrero-Campbell was the CEO of the Minerva Foundation for BC Women and a co-convenor for the Vancouver Immigrant Partnership’s Access to Services strategy group. Stumbling Through Paradise is her first novel. 


This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Books
Tuesday, 31 May 2016 20:06

Pinoys Launch First Miss Gay Montreal

by Krystle Alarcon in Montreal 

Joseph Dadua couldn’t muster up the courage to try on a bikini at a women’s lingerie store in Montreal. 

It took two of his fellow gay friends to encourage him to go to the dressing room of La Vie en Rose. 

“It was an unforgettable experience,” the 24-year-old recalls, “everyone was accepting and open.” 

Dadua says preparing for the Filipino community’s Miss Gay Montreal 2016 was a process that helped him embrace his effeminate side. 

Miss Gay Montreal, held May 28, was the first of its kind for the Filipino community in Montreal. 

It was a joint effort between Montreal’s largest Filipino group, FAMAS (Filipino Association of Montreal and Suburbs) and Pinoy LGBT. 

Dadua and his three rival candidates all identify as “gay cross-dressers” he says.

Dadua and his three rival candidates all identify as “gay cross-dressers” . . .

For the competition, they chose a pretend country of origin and an existing female model’s name for the night – a tradition borrowed from gay beauty pageants in the Philippines. For example, Dadua (pictured below) wanted to be addressed as Leila Lopes and Miss Angola. 

All the craze 

Beauty pageants are a cultural frenzy in the Philippines. Last year, the country won two titles in international competitions for Miss Universe and Miss Earth, and two crowns in 2013 as well. 

Blogger Raul Dancel aptly describes this obsession pointing out that the Philippines has a local beauty queen for each of its 40,000 small towns. 

“There are a bevy of titles that will befuddle future anthropologists, including: That’s My Boy, Little Miss Philippines, Mr. Handsome, Little Miss Handsome, Miss Gay Philippines, Miss Supranational, Manhunt International, Mr. Marketplace and Super Mermaid,” he writes. 

This is why when FAMAS approached the members of Pinoy LGBT to put together the event, the organization got on board immediately. 

Adiva Estinozo, one of the main organizers of the pageant, identifies as a transgender and transsexual woman. She says she hid her gender identity and sexual orientation from her parents. 

“I was scared of being isolated. That’s why I moved to the [gay] Village [in Montreal] on my own. I didn’t want to wait for the isolation to happen.” 

“It helps parents to understand. It shows parents that their kids are having fun on stage.”

She understands firsthand how a contest can help build self-esteem. She won the Pista Sa Nayon singing contest in Montreal in 2002. 

The grand prize was a trip to the Philippines and an appearance on a comedy TV show there, Home Along Da Riles. Upon returning to Montreal, Estinozo came out. 

She says Miss Gay Montreal has also helped some of the candidates be their true selves. 

“It helps parents to understand. It shows parents that their kids are having fun on stage,” Estinozo says. 

Being seen and being seen equal 

The LGBT community is quite visible in the Philippines, with celebrities like femme gay comedian, Vice Ganda, achieving top box office sales for his satirical films. 

But for Mark Simbulan, co-founder of Pinoy LGBT and Estinozo’s co-host for the event, visibility does not translate to equality. 

“The Philippines should be allowing gay marriage — not in terms of a religious basis, but on a human level."

“The Philippines should be allowing gay marriage — not in terms of a religious basis, but on a human level. They should have human rights to love and be able to marry who they want to marry,” he says. 

Simbulan says Pinoy LGBT is working on ways to promote gay marriage in the Philippines. 

Asked what’s the main difference between a women’s pageant and a gay men’s one, Simbulan says, “not much, but ours is more fun.” 

Indeed, the audience squealed with laughter at certain moments during the show. But candidates rode a fine line between mockery and entertainment. 

Axl Hernandez, also known as Tyra Banks and Miss Venezuela for the night, used comedy to slam opponents. 

“Not all horses belong in the stable,” Hernandez says in Tagalog upon grabbing the microphone. “Because you just saw one (the previous candidate) and there are two more.” 

Another candidate who blurred the lines between ridicule and spectacle was Jerrieval Mark Garcia, a.k.a. Adriana Lima or Miss Brazil. During the talent portion, Garcia dressed in a black sequin cocktail dress performing a cabaret dance — then midway, he turned around, put on a baseball cap and tight boxers and fluttered his pelvis like a male stripper. 

In the end, Dadua took home the crown. 

To critics who think beauty pageants are objectifying and do not promote equality, he says, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I’m not going to say anything against them. We need to focus on our own lives. If it makes us happy then why not. For me, they’re dedma.” 

Dedma is a Taglish slang term mixing the English word ‘dead’ and Tagalog word ‘malisyoso’. In other words, he’s feigning their malice.

Editor's Note: This copy has been updated to correct a mistake in the spelling of Adiva Estinozo's name and the explanation of the word 'dedma'. NCM regrets these errors.


This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Arts & Culture
Tuesday, 05 April 2016 04:01

Women Filmmakers with a Filipino Angle

 Women are largely underrepresented in the film industry, particularly as writers, producers, and directors. Three independent local female filmmakers are carrying out all three roles, driven by determination and a story to tell.

They all share a Filipino background, a portfolio of giving a platform to minority issues, and a passion for documentaries. To be…

The Source

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Published in The Philippines

by Ted Alcuitas in Vancouver

The man who put Filipinos on the political map of this country has died in Winnipeg, his home for more than five decades.

Conrad Santos, the first Filipino-Canadian to be elected to a provincial legislative assembly died at Winnipeg’s Victoria General Hospital on Feb. 29. He was 81. The cause of death was not known.

In a statement, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger offered his condolences to Santos’ family on behalf of Manitobans.

“It was with deep sadness that we learned of the passing of Dr. Santos,” Selinger said.

“Dr. Santos served his adopted province and his constituency with dedication and self-sacrifice. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

“Dr. Santos served his adopted province and his constituency with dedication and self-sacrifice."

A distinguished career

Conrad Santos was first elected to the Manitoba Legislative Assembly under the New Democratic Party (NDP) in 1981, serving for five terms (1981-1988 and 1990-2007) before stepping down in 2007.

Born in the Philippines and a native Bulakeno, he was educated at Harvard University and the University of Michigan, where he earned a PhD in Political Science.

He moved to Winnipeg in 1965 after obtaining a teaching position at the University of Manitoba. He remained a tenured professor at the U of M until his election to the legislature. Santos also worked as a consultant for the Instituto Centro-Americano de Administracion Publica in Costa Rica, and was a board member of the Citizenship Council of Manitoba from 1977 to 1980.

The soft-spoken and eccentric Santos led a colourful and sometimes controversial political life.

Santos was active in the Winnipeg Filipino community for many years serving as an adviser to many organizations notably the Philippine Association of Manitoba (PAM). He was a member of the Knights of Rizal, the organization that first broke the story of his death.

Controversy in his political life

The soft-spoken and eccentric Santos led a colourful and sometimes controversial political life. Long before riding a bike became popular, he was already riding one to the legislature from his home in Fort Garry with his iconic Che Guevarra hat and a sling leather bag at his side.

Santos was first elected to the Manitoba legislature in the 1981 provincial election as a New Democrat in the northwest Winnipeg riding of Burrows, defeating NDP-turned-Progressive Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Ben Hanuschak. He was re-elected in the 1986 election.

In June 1984, there were unconfirmed rumours that he was considering a move to the Progressive Conservative Party.

In 1987, he was accused of trying to use his political position to prevent Winnipeg School Division No. 1 from expropriating a house he owned. 



Santos lost the Burrows NDP nomination to Doug Martindale in 1988, and subsequently entered the party’s leadership election. He was not regarded as a serious candidate, and received only five votes on the first ballot. Santos ran for mayor of Winnipeg in 1989, but was again not considered a serious candidate and finished a distant fourth.



In 1990, Santos won the NDP nomination for Broadway, another northwest riding, by a single vote over favoured candidate Marianne Cerilli. He subsequently defeated Liberal incumbent Avis Gray in the 1990 general election, and was re-elected in the 1995 election.

In 1995, he endorsed Lorne Nystrom’s bid to lead the federal NDP. 

When the Broadway riding was eliminated by redistribution in 1999, Santos won the NDP nomination in Wellington (also in Winnipeg’s northwest), and was returned by a wide margin in the 1999 provincial election.

He was again re-elected in the 2003 election. 

Santos was named Deputy Speaker after the elections of 1986 and 1999, but has never been appointed to a cabinet position.

There is no doubt that Conrad Santos paved the way for the current crop of Filipino politicians in Manitoba.

Santos left the New Democratic Party caucus shortly before the 2007 provincial election after being accused of improperly selling party membership cards (he denied the charge). He campaigned as an independent, and finished last in a field of five candidates. His successor, Flor Marcelino, was a last minute replacement candidate for the NDP.

The Winnipeg Sun reported in 2013 that on Mar. 16, 2005 “Santos was scolded for bringing a paring knife into chamber. …The speaker confiscated the three-inch blade from Santos, who apologized for bringing it into the house.”

Paving the way for Filipino politicians

There is no doubt that Conrad Santos paved the way for the current crop of Filipino politicians in Manitoba including Dr. Rey Pagtakhan who followed him as the first Filipino to be elected member of Parliament in 1988.

Pagtakhan’s nephew Mike, is a long-serving member of the Winnipeg city council and there are currently two sitting members of the Manitoba legislature – Flor Marcelino and Ted Marcelino, both of the NDP.

Other Filipino politicians served in various positions in school boards putting Manitoba firmly in the leading position in the country as having the most number of Filipino politicians in office.

Santos is survived by one daughter, two sons and two daughters-in-law, Evelyn Santos, Conrad and Leslie Santos, Rob and Kim Santos, and their families; four grandchildren, Kristen and Matt, Ginny and Josie.

Affectionately known as ka Rading to his family, he is also survived by his three siblings and three sisters-in-law, Leticia Santos, Rebecca Santos, Ruel and Dina Santos, Narcisa Santos, Luz Santos, and all their families (including his nephew, Paul Santos).

Santos was predeceased by his parents, Federico and Marcelina Santos of Malolos, Bulacan, Philippines; his sister Melita Santos Beltran, his brothers Virgilio Santos and Benjamin Santos, and his wife Emerita Santos, and is survived by their families.


This article first appeared on PhilippineCanadianNews.com. Republished with permission.

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 09 February 2016 18:00

A Filipino Grocery Chain is Coming to Canada

Seafood City Supermarket, a California-based grocer that caters to Filipinos and Asians, is setting up shop in the Toronto area.

The company’s first store will be at the Heartland Town Centre, a Mississauga, Ont. power centre.

An opening date has not yet been set, but Seafood City aims to open late this year or early in 2017, Dan Hyde, senior manager of retail division at Orlando Corp., which owns the mall, said.

Canadian Grocer

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Published in Arts & Culture

Family reunification is at the core of the Liberal government’s immigration policy. After our two-part in-depth piece on the pros and cons of the family class immigration stream, this new series takes a closer look at the process from the perspectives of major immigrant groups in Canada. What are the opinions and experiences of individuals and families who took this route or are in the process of doing so? We find out what works and what needs improvement. The following report is the second in our series and looks at the frustrations caused by painfully long wait times. Read part one here.

by Marieton Pacheco in Vancouver 

Elmira Padlan-Bautista is no stranger to Canada’s family reunification program. She and her husband have been going through the process of sponsoring both their parents since 2005. But after 10 years, Elmira’s parents are now with them in Canada, while her husband Jerold’s parents are still waiting in the Philippines. 

It’s a heartbreaking situation considering they tried to sponsor Jerold’s parents first. 

The couple’s application to sponsor the Bautistas in 2005 was initially refused due to lack of income, but after submitting additional documents in 2006, they were given approval to complete the requirements for both sets of parents in 2008. 

This included separate instructions to do medical tests in Manila and that’s where the problems started. 

“There was always something in their medical tests,” says Elmira. “There was a spot in [Jerold’s] dad’s lungs the first time; he was asked to undergo medication and come back after three months. When he was cleared, they found another issue with his mom this time.” 

Jerold’s mom has gone back for medical tests about 10 times already due to heart problems and complications from diabetes. It doesn’t help that she’s 73 years old. And with each exam costing around Php 3,000-5,000 (about $100-$150), it’s been quite an expensive and frustrating exercise. 

“It’s been too long that I think they’ve lost interest in coming here."

“It’s been too long that I think they’ve lost interest in coming here, napagod na sa pabalik-balik kaya nawalan ng gana (it’s tiring to keep on going back [for medical reasons] and frustrating),” shares Elmira. 

Despite this, they received a letter from Canada's immigration department in 2013 asking them to pay for the parents’ Right of Landing Fee. They did, and Jerold's parents were asked to submit their passports to the Canadian embassy in Manila. 

But without medical clearance, their visas remain pending. It’s been so long that the parents’ have asked the embassy to just return their passports, which have been held for about a year. 

Lessons learned 

Elmira says she remembered all these lessons when she applied for her own parents’ sponsorship in 2008. After receiving approval to sponsor them in early 2011, she asked Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), which is now Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), to send all correspondence through her.

Both her parents were also visiting Canada when the letter for their medical examination arrived. She checked with CIC and was able to have both her parents’ medical exam done here. With no hitches in their documents and medical tests, her parents were approved for permanent residency in December 2012. 

It was still a four-year wait, but Elmira is grateful, especially when compared with her in-laws’ case and those of some of her other friends in the community. 

“I don’t mind going through all the requirements and application ’cause it’s really worth it that they’re here,” she says. “They’ve been very helpful in babysitting the three kids. I didn’t have a bad experience with my parents’ sponsorship like we did with my husband’s parents. They’re frustrated, and we’re still frustrated...” 

More efficient, fair processing needed 

At the beginning of this month the IRCC began accepting parent and grandparent sponsorship applications for 2016. Many immigrants are again trying their luck to bring their families here. 

Current wait times to sponsor parents and grandparents (PGP) under the Family Class vary from four to six years depending on where your visa office is located. The IRCC’s website says its offices are currently working on PGP sponsorship applications received before November 2011. 

Immigration consultant Arlene Tungohan says the key is really to improve processing times for these applications. 

“It’s not a first-in, first-out system anymore. What’s happening is last-in, first out."

Doubling quotas as promised by the new Liberal government from 5,000 to 10,000 may be a good thing, she explains, but it doesn’t really mean anything unless they speed up processing times for those who’ve been waiting for years. 

Tungohan adds she still has live-in caregivers’ applications for family sponsorship from five to six years ago. 

Their family members in the Philippines have undergone medical exams two to three times already, but their applications remain in processing. Then there are those who submitted applications in 2015 and have been given their PR already. 

“We don’t know why the process is that way,” Tungohan says. “It’s not a first-in, first-out system anymore. What’s happening is last-in, first out ... I guess they want to show it’s faster now with the changes, but it’s a little bit unfair. Many caregivers are suffering because of it.” 

“You hardly hear of parents going on welfare especially in the Filipino community.”

Tungohan says family reunification has always been a priority under Canada’s immigration system, so whether it’s sponsoring parents or grandparents, or caregivers trying to bring the rest of their family members to Canada, wait times should be reasonable. 

Welfare not a ‘Filipino thing’ 

The immigration consultant also discredits criticisms on parents and grandparents being a burden to Canada’s health-care system. 

Many, if not all, of those approved to live here still want to work and contribute to the Canadian economy, she says, adding that collecting welfare is hardly a Filipino thing to do. 

“You hardly hear of parents going on welfare especially in the Filipino community,” she explains. “We take pride in being able to support our parents, in showing them that ‘hey, we are successful.’” 

But as long as processing times are not improved, families like the Bautistas will have to wait some more for a chance to support their parents here in Canada, or else they will continue hearing about the realities of their parents’ aging from thousands of miles away. 


Journalist Ranjit Bhaskar mentored the writer of this article through the NCM Mentoring Program.

 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

 

Published in Policy
Tuesday, 12 January 2016 16:01

Backward Step for Philippine Women

By Phelim Kine The Philippine government has taken a serious step backward in its obligation to protect maternal health, reduce infant mortality, and prevent the spread of HIV. Last week, the Philippine Congress eliminated funding in the 2016 national budget for contraception, cutting vital support for lower-income Filipinos who rely on state-provided contraceptive services for 

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The Philippine Reporter

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Published in The Philippines

In 2013, Yeb Saño’s brother A.G. Saño was in the city of Tacloban, which was leveled by Typhoon Haiyan. A.G. Saño, a street artist, didn’t have credentials to enter the highly fortified U.N. climate summit, but Democracy Now! interviewed him offsite. “We painted murals that depict pilgrims walking around the world and leading towards Paris,” 

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The Philippine Reporter

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Published in The Philippines
Thursday, 12 November 2015 16:59

Pinoy Workers Win Fight in Tim Hortons Battle

The Canadian multinational fast food chain, known for its coffee, doughnuts and annual Roll up the Rim to Win contest, attempt to duck responsibility for discriminatory treatment of its temporary foreign workers by hiding behind a franchise store was rejected by B.C. Human Rights Tribunal (BCHRT) last week.

Tim Hortons filed an application to dismiss a complaint brought forward by the United Steelworkers (USW) on behalf of a group of workers from the Philippines working at the company's Fernie, B.C. location by arguing it could not be held responsible for the conduct of its franchisee. 

The BCHRT has dismissed that application and the complaint is now proceeding to a hearing.

Allegations 'disgraceful'

The USW filed the human rights complaint after learning that these workers were being denied overtime premiums, given less desirable shifts, threatened with being returned to the Philippines and forced to rent accommodation from the restaurant owners.

"Tim Hortons wants their name to be synonymous with Canada, but there is nothing Canadian about the disgraceful treatment suffered by this group of workers," said Stephen Hunt, Director of the United Steelworkers for Western Canada.

"If this complaint is successful, Tim Hortons will be forced to take responsibility for the treatment of their workforce."

Hunt alleged that this case is another example of the abuse that is commonplace in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

"If this complaint is successful, Tim Hortons will be forced to take responsibility for the treatment of their workforce. No longer will they be able to turn a blind eye to the discriminatory treatment of workers by hiding behind franchisees. It's time for Tim Hortons to demonstrate the Canadian values that it wishes to project by improving the treatment of their workers across Canada," Hunt said.

The six Tim Hortons workers who originally raised concerns over their working conditions are all Filipino and all were hired to work at the Fernie franchise.

They first spoke out in December of last year, with claims of alleged theft, threatening behaviour and manipulation on the part of their boss, Pierre Pelletier. Workers alleged Pelletier made sure the overtime pay they received came back to him — in cash — and that he even drove employees to the bank and waited while they cashed their pay cheques.

Response to allegations

Last year, after the allegations surfaced, Tim Hortons said it had expanded oversight of the use of temporary foreign workers at its franchises and taken over two locations in Fernie, B.C., and Blairmore, Alta.

The popular doughnut chain made the announcement hours before former Employment Minister Jason Kenny announced an immediate moratorium on the fast-food industry's access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, CBC said.

"We will not tolerate abuse of employment standards for Canadian or temporary foreign workers."

Tim Hortons also announced it was expanding its auditing system to include mandatory independent audits for every franchisee who accesses the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

"We encourage the government to make independent audits mandatory for every company that uses this crucial program to reassure Canadians of the integrity of the program," said a company statement.

Scott Bonikowsy, vice-president of corporate affairs at Tim Hortons, said the program is necessary in some communities where there are not enough Canadians to fill positions in the company's restaurants.

"Tim Hortons has a strong track record in responsibly using this program. In a few isolated incidents where that has not been the case, we have acted to remove those franchisees from our system," said the statement. "We will not tolerate abuse of employment standards for Canadian or temporary foreign workers, and we will continue to work hard to create a positive, fair work environment for all of our team members."

According to Tim Hortons, the company employs around 4,500 temporary foreign workers, about five per cent of its workforce.


Re-published in partnership with The Filipino Post.

Published in Top Stories
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The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

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Select one of sample color schemes

Google Font

Menu Font
Body Font
Heading Font

Body

Background Color
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Top Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Header Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Mainmenu Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Slider Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Scroller Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Mainframe Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Bottom Scroller Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Breadcrumb Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Bottom Menu Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Bottom Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image
Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image