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A Canada Day Story

The Summer season in Canada kicks off with Canada Day Celebrations on July 1st of every year. I wanted to celebrate Canada with a Canada Day Story of inspiration on how this country gave better opportunities to my parents that gave me this opportunity to share with you.

Below is an excerpt from my Book, Thank you Cancer! This part of the story is about my parents Immigrating to Canada.

Enjoy and don’t forget to read the insights after.



A picture of my Parents
My Mom & Dad (Sonny & Lelia Magtoto)

Mom's Graduation Picture
Mom's Nursing Graduation Pic

My story begins with how my parents first met. Both my parents are from the Philippines but from 2 different parts. My Mom is from the Visayas and was raised on the Island of Bohol. She’s a “Province girl” and was raised in a town. My Dad however, is a straight up City guy, he grew up in the City of Manila. It was my mom who first immigrated to Canada. She studied to become a nurse, which was her ticket to get out from the Philippines and to find a better opportunity for herself. When she finished nursing, she had 2 offers to leave and move to a new place. The choices were Corpus Christie, Texas, USA and St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.

My Dad taking his Grad Photo
Dad's Graduation Pic

When she found it was easier to get into Canada, she took the chance with the Cold. After arriving in Newfoundland, I remember her telling me she cried and wanted to go home, because she wasn’t accustomed to snow yet. During that time, it was kinda impossible for her to go back and forth like you could today. She toughed it out and dealt with the unknown.

She was first set up to live in this smaller apt building that also housed more Filipinos. Apparently, nurses were really in demand at this time in that part of Canada. People from different parts of the Philippines also took the opportunity to leave and took the chance with the cold. My mom’s first Dialect is Visaya and her other roommates spoke Tagalog. On top of working on English, she also had to learn another language to communicate better with her colleagues.

Group Photo with Mama Ding
L-R : Mom's Friend, My Mom, My Ninang Ida, My Tita Opet. Bottem: Mama Ding

My mom and aunt
Tita Auring & My Mom

As the months passed by, all the Filipinos living in that building became really close with each other. In fact, most people that lived in that same building are still really close family friends today! The building had an older Filipino Lady that was sort of the resident advisor. She was more like the manager of the building and had a real liking for my mom. She told my mom that she has some single good looking nephews that are still living in the Philippines and my mom and another friend in the group were both single too. So she connected my mom and my Tita (Auntie) Auring with 2 of her nephews. Remember, this was the 70’s and the only way to communicate was through regular postage mail. I don’t think they even had air mail to the Philippines yet. Probably just by Ship.

A birthday pic of my mom
My Kuya Neil w/ Mama Ding Celebrating my Mom's Bday

I was told that after a few letters back and forth with some pictures, they finally got to talk to each other on the phone via long distance calling. This was like the internet to them. The older Filipino Lady, who our family referred to as my “Mama Ding”, was so happy that they got together cuz my Dad was one of her favourite nephews. My mom had the opportunity to go back and visit the Philippines first. That’s when they first met. Through time they got to know each other well. Not long after, my Dad met the requirements that qualified him to immigrate to Canada. He then packed and moved to Newfoundland to go live with my mom, Mama Ding, and the rest of the Filipinos in that same building.

Through some old pictures and stories from family friends, it looked like that apt building was a happening place. Young and Free and in a new country. A country that gave its people Freedom and opportunity to grow and prosper. Definitely better than what was going on in the Philippines back then.


With what was going on in the Philippines back then, the opportunity to grow as a person was limited if you decided to stay. So one way for one to succeed in life is to immigrate to a new country. The USA & Canada needed an economy to stimulate and accept people with skills from around the world.

At times when I need inspiration myself, I look at my parents and their mindset on moving to a new country. With the little stuff they owned, they packed and moved to Canada not knowing English very well and STILL succeeded in their own rights. I get up and get to work.

Looking back, if it wasn’t for this country welcoming my parents and giving them the opportunity to grow, I wouldn’t be here today sharing this story with you. With the Freedoms that this country has given my parents, it gave myself and my sister a life that can never be replicated. For that, I am FOREVER GRATEFUL.

3 Things that this story can teach you

The Power of Courage

Fear will always be around and will most likely not go away. Along with determination, the one thing you can do is develop the courage within you to face that fear. Even though my mom was really scared to make that change, she was determined to have a better life than what she was currently living in. With all her courage, she stuck the coarse and never gave up on her dream.

The Power of Community

As human beings, we should never be alone or do things alone. We thrive in Community. What also helped my mom gather the courage was a great support system from her peers. All of them in that house were all in the same boat. Leaving home, going to the unknown, & starting something entirely new. Together they all were able to push through the fear and conquer this new land.

The Power of Love

During that time, my parent's were world's apart. They even grew up in 2 different parts of the Philippines. From being introduced through letters, then on the phone, to finally meeting, they still managed to stay together and start a family. That alone is a courages journey itself.

Today my parents are both retired and thankful for being able to move here to allow them to have this type of lifestyle. They have 3 Grandchildren they brag about all the time and when I do ask them about taking that leap. Both have no regrets.

Another reason I would like to be Thankful for living in Canada is that I had access to the health care relatively easily to help aid me in my win over the battle with Cancer. If it wasn't for the readily available system, who knows what the outcome could've been.


The main reason why I wanted to share this story and truly why I am grateful to be living in Canada is because of what you see below. #family


My Family Potrait
The Family! Top L-R: Myself, My kid Rhynen. My B.I.L Alan, My Sister. Bottom: My Dad holding nephew Logan, My Mom holding Niece Bailee

Happy Canada Day Everyone!

For more Stories on life as a Filipino Canadian with the lessons that came from it, hit that link below to get a copy of my book.


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