OFW from Laguna calls Labrador City his “Second Home” in Canada

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Second home
Jeff Bunyi from Laguna works at a local paint store in Labrador City. Via @TheTelegraph

An OFW from the Philippines calls a small city in Canada his second home. Jeff Bunyi got used to Canadian winters but not the feelings of being homesick and lonely.




OFW GETS WORK PERMIT, MOVES TO CANADA FOR WORK

The OFW from Laguna, who is a shipper-receiver for a Canadian electronics company based in Newfoundland and Labrador said that they chose to work overseas because of the lack of options back home in the Philippines.

Bunyi decided to try his luck, and signed up with a recruitment agency licensed by the Philippine Government’s Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to hire OFWs for Canada.

After a long application process, Bunyi was granted a work permit by the Government of Canada’s immigration agency, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

He was part of a group of 16 Filipino nationals granted work visas under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TWFP).




CANADIAN EMPLOYER BACKS OUT, OFW ENDS UP WORKING AT A HARDWARE STORE

Upon arrival, however, Bunyi discovered that their Canadian employer backed out, leaving them scrambling to look for legal employment to be able to stay in Canada.

He was able to find an eligible Canadian employer with the proper authorization to hire foreign workers, and ended up working for a local Home Hardware store.

Bunyi admits that he knew nothing about living and working in Canada as an OFW, despite having attended the Philippine Government’s mandatory Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS). All he found out by Googling Newfoundland and Labrador was icebergs and bears.




OFW LEARNS HOW TO WASH HIS OWN CLOTHES, COOK HIS OWN MEALS

Bunyi was a first time OFW, and had never been outside the Philippines before arriving in Canada. He barely knew his way around an airport.

He was met at the airport by his Canadian employer, who showed him to his new home. He had to learn everything from using a microwave to washing his own clothes.

Labrador City isn’t quite as diverse as other cities in Canada, so it was challenging for Bunyi to go grocery shopping.

He had to ask his Canadian employer for a rice cooker, since he didn’t know where to get one.




MAKING NEW FRIENDS IN LABRADOR CITY

When he first arrived, his routine was just work and home. It really was to cold to do anything else, and Bunyi didn’t get the chance to make many friends.

He joined a local basketball club organized by other Filipinos, and expanded his network at his local church.

Like most Filipinos who choose to work overseas, Bunyi had to sacrifice being away from his family. He had left his son with his mum.

In 2015, Canadian businesses took a hit, forcing many to send home foreign workers, including Bunyi.

Bunyi was heartbroken, at having to leave Canada. Like many OFWs before him, he dreamt of looking for a way to stay in Canada and apply for permanent residency.




NOT ALL OFWS CAN AUTOMATICALLY APPLY FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCY

Unfortunately, not all OFWs can easily apply for permanent residency. They must first meet certain requirements to be eligible to apply for immigration programs in order to stay in Canada legally.

Many decide to let their work permits expire, and stay in Canada without status.

Bunyi decided to do the right thing and go home. In doing so, he was able to avoid overstaying in Canada, which would have prevented him from returning, had he found a new Canadian employer. Which he did.




OFW FOLLOWS THE RULES, GETS TO RETURN TO CANADA

In 2019, a friend helped find a new Canadian employer who ran a paint shop in Labrador City.

He ended up staying in the Philippines for four years, including the time it took to process his documents with both the Government of Canada and the Philippine Government.

He’s happy to be back in Canada, and is currently looking for a way to transition from his present status to one that would allow him to eventually apply for permanent residency.

Best of luck to you, kababayan, we’re very happy you got to come back to your second home. Wishing you the best of luck, and welcome back to Canada!




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