A Chinese philosopher, Sun Yat-sen, once said, “The key to success is action, and the essential in action is perseverance.” This is definitely true in the case of the power-couple, Mr. and Mrs. Angeles, two (2) practicing lawyers in Alberta.
While opposites attract and like repel, it seems that their shared goal of pursuing their passion was what motivate each other to succeed. The couple, Mrs. Katrina Angeles and Mr. Joseph Angeles, both obtained their Juris Dotor (law) degree in the prestigious Ateneo School of Law in the Philippines. Consequently, when they immigrated to Canada in 2006 and 2010, respectively, they challenged themselves to achieve accreditation to practice law in Canada and in 2014 were both Called to the Bar.
Their career journey has never been a linear path. Joseph was deciding between two formidable career options to go into law or become a pilot. Through the influence of his father, a mechanical engineer in the Philippines who prompted his sons to pursue different fields, Joseph decided to pursue the path of the law while living vicariously his other dream through his brothers, one as an Assistant Solicitor General in the Philippines, the other a Lt. Colonel and Squad Commander of the 5051st Philippine Search and Rescue Group. On the other hand, ever since she was a young girl, Katrina had always dreamed of becoming a lawyer one day, inspired by the riveting crime and law books of Sydney Sheldon and John Grisham.
However, just like the old adage, the dream doesn’t last unless one works hard. As if obtaining a law degree was easy enough, the couple also encountered challenges in trying to practice law in Canada. On one hand, immigrating to Canada posed challenges of resettlement and adapting into a different culture, a different landscape and a different language. More so, to practice Canadian law, they had to relearn and educate themselves on Canadian law, which, according to Joseph, was so different from the familial Philippine law. Now, having achieved their license to practice to practice, the reward for them is the ability to provide clients with sufficient information that leaves them settled and confident that someone has their back and being able to achieve that fine balance between work and family.
So how did they manage the challenges they encountered as immigrants trying to obtain license to practice in Canada? Joseph cites that, “Constant communication with my spouse was important because it allowed me to concentrate on things that are of utmost importance and to focus on our family and our goals as professionals and parents.” Katrina, on the other hand, echoes the same tune, “Joseph and I studied for our equivalency exams together so we supported each other throughout the process, but there was also a sense of competition which motivated both of us to finish.”
Both respond that ultimately, the mutual support was necessary to provide the encouragement they both needed to succeed. But more importantly, the mutual support enabled them to feel proud for each other. The couple states that to them the most important achievements in their lives are those that they share with their spouse. Joseph says, “I feel most proud of the achievements of my family especially my wife’s achievements.” And to Katrina, her pride rests on her husband and their daughters. She reminisces on her experience in taking the exams, ” I remember being 6 months pregnant when I took my last exam, it was certainly difficult studying for that exam but with enough focus, motivation and support from my family, I was able to finish it.”
In general, just like the quote states above, perseverance and hard work were key for the couple in supporting their family and achieve their goals together. For those wishing to practice law after immigrating in Canada, Joseph shares his philosophy, “Focus, life is hard as it is and when you add the pressure of relocating, speaking a different language, immersing yourself in a different culture, it becomes even harder, so my advice is to power through it and focus on your goals and concentrate on what is most important to you. The laws are very different in Canada and getting accredited as a lawyer here means having to relearn new legislation without the convenience of learning it in a classroom. It will be very difficult and expensive but practicing law in Alberta is very rewarding and well worth all the challenges.”
On the other hand, those who wish to re-learn and re-educate themselves after having obtained degrees in the Philippines, Katrina shares the following advice, “Study hard and don’t get discouraged. The road is long and there will be a lot of challenges ahead but just keep your head down and continue working toward your goals.”
Ultimately, the success this power couple achieves was partly having pursued their careers despite the odds stacked against them. But, arguably, more so in putting their families and their future as a shared priority, knowing that with each other’s support, there was nothing they could not achieve.