Ben Alagnam - MeMovingToCanada

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Monday, May 14, 2018

From OFW in Singapore to a Permanent Resident in Canada

Moving to Canada as a permanent resident is my long-time dream.  The thought of being in Canada with my family and become a citizen was always in my mind.

Working in the Philippines 
It was 15 years ago, when I was single and working in a manufacturing company in Laguna, Philippines.  Me and my colleague Mike, were busy printing the forms for Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) back then. We were eager to get out of the country to have a better place where there are greater options to grow.

I love my country, Philippines, but the opportunity for me to have a good life was not served on the table.  Lucky for those people who were given such luck that they don't need to move to another country just to find more financial freedom.

I started to fill up the application forms then I realized that MPNP is different from the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program.  The latter is more flexible because having that type of permanent resident visa has more options than MPNP.  In the FSW program, if provided by the type of visa, I can live anywhere in Canada except in the province of Quebec.  For the MPNP, I'm only allowed to stay in Manitoba for a certain period of years and not on other provinces.

I started exploring and gathering information about the FSW program and eventually found an agency to help me with the application.  While waiting for the agency to process my documents, I worked in a technical services company where we install and refurbish machines inside the factory.

The return was good but the stress level was so high that I consistently had headaches almost once a week and not feeling well throughout the day.

I began creating blogs, just to detach myself from the engineering type of work and ventured in the realm of blogging.  It is not difficult for me, learning the ins and outs of the new and different space.

Consistently thinking of my application to Canada, boredom hits me.  I decided to go and find a job in Abu Dhabi, where I was exposed in a different environment with a great story to tell.

Experiencing the Sand, Hot Weather, and a Different Culture
Convinced by my brother, I started applying the visa for Abu Dhabi. It was my first time to visit a place where the weather and culture are different from the Philippines.  Unlike Philippines, where Catholicism is the majority of population, Abu Dhabi is a Muslim country.

Growing up in the southern place in Mindanao, it was not difficult for me blending with people who practice Islam. I study and played with my Muslim friends and acquaintances too. I was more surprised on the way they dress in Abu Dhabi.  Most of the men wear Kandura and Abaya for women.  It's totally different in the place where I grew up because my Muslim friends wear a shirt and pair of pants as we used to.

The weather is hot and the air is dry, which is a total surprise for me wearing a long-sleeve shirt without even a drop of sweat in my armpits. I was, at that time, walking alone from a job interview on a long and wide road with sand covering the pavements.

That's me goofing around Corniche Bike Park, Abu Dhabi, UAE in spite of me having no job.
My motivation in finding a job was still high and I'm still hopeful to get one in due time. A call from an employer, one day, gave me hope that I will soon be working with them.  They requested  the necessary documents and informed me to wait for the approval.

Many days have passed, still bringing my hopes and faith, I was told to exit at the Kish Island to renew my tourist visa. I thought of not doing that and preferred to return to Philippines while waiting for the working visa.  So I did!

One day, while browsing my email, I received a message from the company's secretary and learned that my visa was not further processed.  That's one of the saddest day of my life.

The Venture in the Lion City
I stopped thinking about going out of my country for a year and just continued my life in Philippines until Singapore came.

While chatting with an old colleague of mine, who is now working in Singapore, he introduced me to the Employment Pass Eligibility Certificate (EPEC).  The certificate will allow me to find a job in Singapore for a period of one year.  That gave me an idea to travel, again, to Singapore and gambling my money and time to get a job that can boost my experience.

I started packing, gathering the documents, and continuously chatting online, building networks in Singapore.

Then it was time for me to get out of the Philippines, leaving my son and wife behind for the second time. That's when I posted a story of  my experience with the Philippine Immigration Officer.  So, off I go to the Lion City, Singapore, where everything I did built a big part of the puzzle. 

Realization Point
On the third year working in Singapore, I realized that having a work permit in the country is temporary. Every year, I worry about the renewal of my permit. Like any other Overseas Foreign workers, I'm not sure if my work permit will be renewed either by the government or the company.  It's a guessing game for all of us. 
Again, goofing around in Singapore. This time with a job.
I tried applying for a Singapore Permanent Resident status but I was denied with no reasons, which is a normal response to most applicants.  I have to stop this kind of annual feeling, that's what I said to my thirty--plus-year-old self.

Then, I started following up the Canadian permanent visa application, this time I did it myself.  I started researching after work and gathering information from forums.  There was no Me Moving To Canada blog back then, and that's I started my timeline.

The Achievable Dream
Working in Singapore as a work-pass holder came to an end when the great news came to me one day.  I received the much awaited visa to move to Canada as a permanent resident. That means, there's no need to worry about my work permit annually.  I can stay in Canada as long as my health can achieve and eventually apply for citizenship.

Happy and excited, I came back to Philippines to get my wife with my two sons, this time.  It was the ultimate way for us to be together in one roof. Being separate for almost 5 years, it finally came to an end.

We prepared all that we could, from documents to the things to bring. Then we packed everything and boarded the airliner bound to my dream country, Canada.

We landed at night in Toronto Pearson Airport, Ontario Canada and was met by the falling flurries, a small flakes of snow.  Looking back at my past experiences brought me a smile to my face.

Working in Philippines, finding a job in Abu Dhabi, and working in Singapore were parts of the pieces that built the huge puzzle, to be in CANADA with my love ones and give them the opportunity to have more options in life.

My Canada Story: Me Moving to Canada by Ben Alagnam

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