Monday, February 25, 2008

Missing the Philippines' Exciting Life


For Wesley Chua, the Philippines will always be a more exciting place than Canada. He migrated to that country in September 2005.

But life in Canada does have its benefits. He therefore harbors no plans to return to the Philippines permanently in the near future.

The 31-year-old Chinoy is a person through whose veins runs printer's ink. The craft of journalism is for him more than just a job.

It is for him a passion. Hence, this for him is his chosen career in Toronto as it was in Manila.

From 1996 to 2005 , he worked as a reporter for Manila's Chinese Commercial News and covered various beats. Today, he is news editor of Ming Pao Daily, a Mandarin language newspaper in his adopted land.

This job he landed only a month after migrating to Canada. His very first and only job there since then, his love of the journalistic craft has made him stick to newspapering. This even if he admits he could find better paying jobs in his new country.

He says life in Canada, when compared to the Philippines, is very quiet and even boring. People stick to their routines mostly. "They go to work in the mornings on weekdays; buy their groceries on weekends; and do their holiday shopping when the season is around," according to him.

This is so much unlike the Philippines where many go out on "gimiks" with their friends on Saturday nights. Metro Manila's malls -- such as Robinson's and SM -- are also bigger and offer more malling activities than Toronto's.

Alcohol sales in Canada are also strictly regulated. Wesley today misses the fact that in the Philippines, one can buy beer or liquor from any store with a government permit. "Here, only government stores can sell them," he says.

He also finds the Philippine press livelier than Canada's . What he misses are its coverages of scandals, the tsismis it carries, and the circus that is the ratings wars between ABS-CBN and GMA TV.

By comparison, the Canadian press is bland and boring.

But life in Canada does have its talking points. Chief among these are the country's welfare programs. They assure that all in that country -- immigrants included -- will never want for the basic needs in life.

"The basics -- food, clothing, and shelter -- are not a problem here," Wesley says. There is mandatory unemployment insurance that tides one over if one has been laid off from one's job. Mandatory pension plans are also administered more efficiently than in the Philippines.

He likewise points out to Canada's health care system as another plus point for this country. Annual medical checkups and visits to the doctor for treatments are paid for by government.

"The only things you have to pay for are the medicines," Wesley says as he notes they cost more than they do in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Wesley has observed that the Canadian press is more responsible than the Philippine press. Journalists there always insist of getting both sides of a controversy.

He still keeps in touch with developments in the Philippines by way of the Internet. This he does by logging on regularly to the Websites of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila Bulletin, ABS-CBN, GMA TV, and the Chinese Commercial News. He also listens frequently to online audio streams from DWIZ and DZBB.

According to him, there are Pinoy stores and Asian supermarkets in Toronto where he can buy everyday Philippine items such as Mang Tomas sauce, Datu Puti vinegar, and Lucky Me Noodles. Every Christmas, he hangs a parol in his rented room bought from one of these stores.

Wesley has no plans of returning to the Philippines in the near future. Late this 2008 or early 2009, he shall be taking on Canadian citizenship.

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