Canada continues to be the destination of choice for many Filipinos to visit, study, work and immigrate. One of these Filipinos is Tristan Perez, who turned his back on a promising career in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) to become a long haul truck driver in Canada.
STARTING OUT AS A ROOKIE IN THE PBA
Perez, who grew up in Pampanga, didn’t even think of joining the PBA when he was growing up. Standing at 1.96m, he didn’t even start playing until he was 14.
He was noticed by Eric Altamirano, who drafted him to play for National University. Perez was part of the university’s men’s basketball team when they won the (UAAP) championship in 2014.
With a championship under his belt, Perez aimed higher. He started playing in the PBA’s D League with BDO-NU and Jumbo Plastic, before signing up with Blackwater in the PBA.
After a year of playing with Blackwater, Perez had to make the difficult decision of leaving the PBA behind to start a new life with his wife in Canada.
Perez told the Philippine Star that the decision was a difficult one to make: “I weighed my options very well. I thought it many times over. My wife was pregnant and it seemed that what I would be getting from a new life in Canada outweighed anything I might earn in the PBA — assuming I play long in the league.”
Even with the money he made playing with Blackwater, it was difficult to make ends meet. Moving to Canada, Perez feels that he made the right decision.
He now works as a long haul trucker for Petro-Canada-owned Cougar Fuels, traversing Canada’s highways with tankers full of gasoline.
According to the Government of Canada’s official Job Bank, the median wage for long haul truck drivers is anywhere from CAD$25.00 to CAD$31.50 per hour (approximately PhP923.87 to PhP1,164.07 per hour). See if you can make that much starting out in the PBA.
Tristan Perez reflects on his past as a professional basketball player, citing the similarities of what he’s doing now.
“Truck driving is like basketball. You need a lot of rest, at least eight hours of sleep or 10 if you can. When you drive, you have to focus because we drive even during winter and sub-zero temperatures, ” Perez told the Philippine Star. “Of course, our dispatcher will not let us out if road and weather conditions are bad. And we can refuse if we have not gotten enough rest or if it is dangerous.”
LIVING HIS BEST LIFE IN CANADA
Perez is happy with his new life in Canada, being able to provide for his growing family. He lives in Fort McMurray in the province of Alberta, home to a thriving Filipino community.
“Being a basketball player has opened doors for me. It has helped me get an education, meet people, ” Perez told the Philippine Star. “It does feel great to be recognized in this part of the world… I am blessed.”
Sa tingin niyo, tamang desisyon ba ang ginawa ni Tristan Perez? Let us know in the comments.
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