Publisher's Note

  • Publisher’s Note

    It’s been 23 years since I’ve moved to Canada from the Philippines.  I remember that the first thing I looked for was a Filipino community paper so I can read some news about the community being new in Calgary.  I never found any Filipino community paper back in 1996. From them on I told myself that [...]

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Page added on January 21, 2011

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Christmas and Holidays in the Hearts of the New Canadians

Featuring:  Santomin Family

by: Marietta Pangan-Dutkoski

Living in  Canada is often  a surprise and sometimes quite a  challenge for new immigrants.  Similar to everyone’s experience when they first arrived and put their feet on Calgary soil, The Santomin Family ( except their mom, Ligaya, who  has been employed under the caregiver program for the past 2 years) , Ernie, Gayle, Dayne and Gian,  are getting the taste of what it is like to live in Canada. Since the very first day of their arrival in Mid Fall, everything has been novel and exciting.  The  next few weeks  were both challenging yet still fun. Here’s what they have to tell about their new found joy and challenges:

According to their mother, Ligaya, the weather is quite a challenge for her family but they were able to cope surprisingly well. Their first snow brought excitement and the children enjoyed it especially going tobogganing for the very first time which gave them a thrill.  Shoveling the snow is fun…for now.  The 2 youngest children have been going to school everyday since their second week of arrival and are  being picked up by the school bus 2 blocks away from the house. The eldest daughter attends high school downtown using public transit. Ligaya’s husband Ernie  goes to work which is a 15-minute walk from their home.

There were  certain issues on wearing layers of clothes, winter boots, coats, toques, gloves and scarfs. They are now challenged with the kind fashion sense they are not used to compared with in the Philippines which is totally inappropriate in Canadian winter weather .

Food is  a delight since  there are Asian supermarkets available throughout the city of Calgary, where they can get  familiar ingredients and local seasonings to cook favorite foods such as  fish “Tilapia” and other tropical fruits and vegetables.They have had their first taste of Canadian dishes on Christmas Eve which included roasted turkey with cranberry sauce and gravy, couscous salad, baked gourmet potatoes and winter vegetables, plus dessert and sparkling  juice drinks.  The Santomins had their share of excitement  of Christmas celebration  with their tradition of gift giving (to wrap or give some gifts no matter how big or small) to their friends, family or loved ones. To them, it may not be what they wish from Santa but it’s their thought that counts , and that is the joy, and true  essence of Christmas spirit.

The Santomin children can’t help but  compare  the  very short celebration  of Christmas in Canada with Filipino traditions  which they missed most.  Among those are street Christmas Carols, the “Misa de Gallo” ( 9-day early dawn mass), and  singing videoke in every household. To alleviate the longing, they chatted  to their relatives with the help of high- tech “skype  video conferencing”.

For the  Santomin children, Christmas  in school is lacking a few touches such as the “Kris Kringle (gift exchange )”   and of course the  packed snacks from  Jollibee ( similar to McDonalds).  But the longing was easily compensated with hours watching their favorite teen’s show.  The new channel for them to watch everyday is  ” The Weather Channel” to get information about the weather so they are all geared up  and prepared before heading outside.

Less the  firing of different heavy firecrackers that can end up causing accidents or fires, The Santomin Family, tried not to depart from  their usual Filipino New Year’s Eve traditions. Thus, “media noche” table feast  consisted of noodles, bread and a centerpiece with12 kinds of round fruits,  which symbolizes  good luck and prosperity.

We all welcome the Santomin family to Canada and wish them the best of luck in pursuing a better life!


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