Filipinos Success’ Stories:
Kaya Ko, Kaya Mo!
If I can, You surely can!
By Marianne Rosal
This column is special to me because I have the privilege of writing about my mom.
My mother is Marjorie Newman, a registered immigration consultant under ICCRC. She is also a community volunteer, being an honorary member of various Filipino associations.
But let me take you back to her humble beginnings. My mother was born in the southernmost island of the Philippines, Mindanao, to a political family. She and her four siblings were raised on her mother’s teacher’s salary. Her father, an aspiring lawyer, had a debilitating motor accident and was unable to find work. Though life was hard, my mother was always known to make people around her smile. She had in her a fighting spirit that always got her through. She was loved by everyone, especially her father.
My Lolo was and still continues to be the biggest influence in my mom’s life. When she was in her teens, her father was elected as a mayor. He was different than anyone that the town had elected. Although poor, my Lolo was descendant of mestizos and hacienderos. He was well-educated and continued to read and learn on his own despite his disability. In this humble state and with his background, my Lolo became aware of injustices his poor kababayans suffered and wanted to initiate change. He went against the politician norm and sided with the masa, or the poor people. He sought to expose the corruption of the government, and protect his town from rebels. A fierce leader, he was not afraid to take a strong stand for his morals. My Lolo, Pedrito Carmona, even went so far as to represent his province in meetings with President Ramos.
Exposure to this environment shaped my mother’s worldview. In particular, she took from her father the concept of philanthropy, and her strong moral compass that guided her decisions. Like many great men, my Lolo died for his morals and beliefs, assassinated during a political campaign. My Lola was forced to take his place in the election, and our town experienced different leadership.
As a mother, my Lola took a different, more nurturing approach to governing. Where my Lolo‘s fierce moral ground brought him enemies, my Lola appeased and befriended them. She conducted food, clothing and medical missions for the rebels and Muslims and focused on building infrastructure in our small town. She was even able to get a contract from President Ramos to build a port.
When my mom graduated from St Theresa’s college, my Lola enlisted her help. My mom became involved with politics since then, until she herself was elected as councilor for three terms and also served as a board member of the province. As a councilor, she championed the cause for women and children. She started food, supplies and medical missions in schools and in remote areas.
Seeing that she wanted a better future for her daughter, she decided to make the move to Canada. Her first attempt at a visitor’s visa was rejected. Years later, she finally got approved for her immigrant status.
My mother came to Canada by herself more than 10 years ago. She first came alone to ensure that when I followed, there would be room for me to stay and a job that would provide for our living. We knew no one, save for a friend of a friend who allowed her to stay with them for a month. Her first job was at a law firm, where she experienced first-hand discrimination. To get to that job, she had to take three different buses. When she was done for the day, she would then bus to her second job. While it was rough, this was the start to her career in immigration.
Eventually, she moved on to the power industry, starting as an admin assistant. On the side, she helped her kababayans find better lives in Canada through finding employment and processing their paper work. Many times, my mom would process their applications for free or for small fees. Moved by their stories and struggles, she would do her best to get their applications or cases approved. Her reward was seeing the families reunited and her clients smile.
She did both jobs for a while. Eventually, while working as an executive assistant, she realized her passion for helping people was stronger than even her job security. She left her job and started her small business. The same business stands today as MCN Canada Immigration Consulting.
Ultimately, her passion for helping people opened up doors in the Filipino community. Through word of mouth, people began to hear about a charismatic and compassionate Filipino woman who had a vast knowledge on immigration and the processes involved.
The truth is, while I could wax poetic about my mother’s accomplishments as a modern self-made woman from humble beginnings, these are nothing compared to what I truly admire about her the most. I’ve seen my mother through days where we had prosperous lives and days where we, as new immigrants, took furniture from garbage bins and ate sardines. Through it all, she never changed. She taught me the importance of staying together as a family when the going gets tough, to treat all people equally, to stay true to your word, and to have integrity. In whatever she does, whether it be picking me up from school, processing humanitarian and compassionate applications, or managing a 250 people event, she always stays true to her word–and what’s more, she always does it with a smile.