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Monthly Archives: August 2018

Prophetic interview on ‘ghost’ consultants

“The money’s the same, whether you earn it or scam it.” 

–Bobby Heenan

By Alex P. Vidal29572442_10211417967587760_356020253209754251_n

NEW YORK CITY — My exclusive interview with Certified Canadian Immigration Consultant Shereen Santos Dulay of the Kabayan Immigration and Network Services Ltd sometime in July 2010 in Surrey, Canada, proved to be prophetic.
When the Consulate General of the Republic of the Philippines in Vancouver issued an “advisory on immigration and visa-related scams” in July 2018, some of the warnings and violations committed by unscrupulous “immigration consultants” raised by Dulay eight years ago were still apparently relevant and continued to be committed until now.
The Consulate has informed the Filipinos that “Interpol has issued an advisory about scams involving entities that pose as immigration law firms, visa travel companies, organizations or government agencies that target applicants for visas and residents/work permits, covering a wide range of categories such as study, scholarship, high-paying jobs and permanent residency.”
The Consulate added: “The scammers offer professional support for their would-be victims to immigrate to Canada, using social engineering methods as such telephone calls, sending emails and letters that include false documents and applications forms, or routing them to fake or look-alike websites that are under the control of scammers.”
“Victims are pushed to pay fees (such as for administrative processes, online examinations, etc.) and to send money through a specific private money transfer company in advance,” the Consulate further warned.

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As Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) members, Dulay told this writer in 2010 they were mandated to report the existence of “ghost” immigration consultants who take advantage of the ignorance of some applicants.
“The mandate of CSIC is to really protect the public, not us,” she stressed. “As CSIC members we are bound to abide by its rules and regulations.”
Dulay warned that “because of lack of proper knowledge, some applicants go to ‘ghost’ consultants who don’t have liabilities.”
She lamented that when some applicants shied away from legitimate consultants to avoid paying lawful fees, “they were enticed and fooled by ‘ghost’ consultants who charged lower fees.”
Dulay lauded the CSIC for its efforts to neutralize unscrupulous consultants.
“CSIS has been placing advertisements in newspapers to warn the public,” she pointed out.
Dulay said CSIS prohibits immigration consultants from giving guarantee of success and faster processing time to applicants “because it is implying that you have special powers or connections with the CSIC.”
“That’s what the ghost consultants are doing,” she exclaimed.

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Dulay also warned that foreign low skilled workers intending to work in Canada should not pay recruitment fees to their employers because it is illegal under the law.
The law provides that employers should be the ones to shoulder all the recruitment costs of foreign workers “but there are some applicants who still don’t know this,” Dulay stressed.
Dulay, licensed member of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC), invoked the guidelines for hiring of foreign workers set by the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, saying employers can apply for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) under the Pilot Project for Occupation Requiring Lower Levels of Formal Training, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)/Service Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
Hiring employers are expected to abide the following, according to Dulay:
-Meet at least the minimum recruitment efforts required for NOC C and D occupations;
-Consult with the local union to determine if the position is covered under a collective agreement;
-Cover all recruitment costs related to the hiring of the foreign worker; and
-Sign an employment contract outlining wages, duties, and conditions related to the transportation, accommodation, and health and occupational safety of the foreign worker.

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Employers will also pay the transportation costs for the worker to travel from his/her country of permanent residence to the location of work in Canada and for the return to the country of permanent residence and offer wages that are equal or higher than the prevailing wage rate paid to Canadians in the same occupation and region.
The guidelines states that “In an unionized environment, offer the same wage rate as established under the collective bargaining agreement.
In cases where benefits are offered to Canadians, extend those same benefits to the temporary foreign worker. In order to address unique circumstances, HRSDC/Service Canada maintains the right to set the prevailing wage rate.”
They must also agree to review and adjust (if necessary) the worker’s wages after 12 months of employment to ensure the worker continues to receive the prevailing wage rate of the occupation and region where he/she is employed; help the worker find suitable, affordable accommodation; provide medical coverage until the worker is eligible for provincial health insurance coverage; and register their workers under the appropriate provincial workers compensation/ workplace safety insurance plans.

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Posted by on August 17, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

I wasn’t given my due process, cries Fil-Can immigration expert

“In case of dissension, never dare to judge till you’ve heard the other side.”

— Euripides, The Children of Herakles

By Alex P. Vidal29572661_10210915151185240_5653732937757158570_n

NEW YORK CITY –– A Filipino-Canadian immigration consultant based in Surrey, British Columbia has protested the advisory posted by the Consulate General of the Philippines in Vancouver, Canada on its website on July 30, 2018 saying he was “unfairly targeted and singled out without any due process.”

The advisory, authorized by the Philippine Overseas Labor

Office (POLO) with office at World Trade Center, Canada Place in Vancouver, Canada, said, “The Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in Vancouver advises the general public about the unauthorized and unlicensed recruitment of Filipino workers being conducted by ‘Harvard Immigration.’”

“It was so sudden and so quick,” sobbed Jay Razon, owner of Harvard Immigration. “There was no warning whatsoever and I was not given a chance to air my side.”

The advisory added: “Based on the verification made by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (“POLO”) in Vancouver, it was determined that Harvard Immigration is not duly authorized/licensed to recruit Filipino workers for employment in Canada. Filipinos seeking employment in Canada are advised to deal only with legitimate

recruitment/employment agencies that are duly registered and accredited with the

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (“POEA”).”

AUTHORITY

The advisory stressed that “a license to engage in immigration consultancy activities is not an authority to undertake recruitment of Temporary Foreign Workers (“TFW”). It is also prohibited even for a licensed recruitment agency to charge a worker any recruitment fee to facilitate deployment to Canada.”

Razon, 63, said he surmised the advisory came out in the heels of an advertisement in the Surrey-based Philippinze Showiz Today by Lucky Supermarket located on Kings Boulevard in Surrey, which announced the hiring of workers for various positions.

He admitted he had “an outstanding contract” with Lucky Supermarket “to provide immigration services to potential supermarket workers.”

Razon, who obtained a license to operate for Harvard Immigration two years ago,

Clarified that “I was not hired primarily by the company (Lucky Supermarket) to recruit the workers but for immigration services e.g. LMIA application and Work Permit application.”

LMIA is Labour Market Impact Assessment, a document that an employer in Canada may need to get before hiring a foreign worker.

He said his company did not sign any contract with the workers.

The newspaper advertisement “clearly stated that applicants may send their resume directly to the hrsurrey@luckysupermarket.ca.”

“If hired by the company I can now offer my immigration services,” Razon explained.

A nurse and civil engineer by profession, Razon pointed out that “I am a regulated Canadian immigration consultant (RCIC) but not a licensed worker recruiter here in Canada nor in the Philippines. I am just not allowed to recruit workers.”

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Upon the suggestions of Joel Castillo, president of the United Filipino-Canadian Association of BC (UFCABC), Razon said he tried to link with Maria Facundo-Lilly, owner of the Vancouver-based Reliable Nanny and Caregiver Placement Agency, “in order to get suggestions on how to abide with the law.”

Razon said he wanted to explain this to Labor Attaché Margarita Eugenia Victorino but she reportedly threatened to file a case against him.

POLO has issued a “cease and desist” order for his company thus “my momentum (as an immigration consultant) to help the more than 150 Filipino workers has ran out,” he protested.

“I could lose my license as a consequence of this issue, but I want to emphasize that I  am only helping the Filipino workers and I have worked so hard to obtain my license,” Razon bewailed.

Reitred Consul General Jose Ampeso and former Multicultural Helping House Society (MHHS) vice president Amado Mercado Jr. are reportedly among the community leaders who “understand” Razon’s predicament and are trying to help fix his woes with the POLO.

 

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2018 in CRIME, NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!

 

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Iloilo beaches and Coney Island

“To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude.”
–Jeanne Moreau

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Coney Island is located in the southernmost part of Brooklyn.
From midtown Manhattan, I traveled about 45 minutes taking the Q train to Stillwell Avenue last Sunday afternoon.
For a fare of $2.75, I can also reach Coney Island for about 60 minutes if I take the D, N or F train from Queens, where I stay.I observed that Philippines beaches are far better than Coney Island, a peninsular residential neighborhood beach in Brooklyn, in terms of the color of water and natural sand.
Water in Philippine beaches is more pristine and the sand is white and natural especially in Boracay in Aklan and in other areas in Guimaras and in Sicogon Island in Carles, Iloilo. 38837076_10212239626768726_2667665377944666112_o
On the contrary, sand in Coney Island no longer naturally deposits on the beach, thus it is replenished by the city government in regular beach nourishment projects using dredged sand.
The city government also groomed the public beaches on a regular basis.
When I faced the beach in south I  noticed there was no significant obstructions and was in sunlight all day until eight o’clock in the evening.

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But unlike in the private beaches in southern and northern Iloilo where beach goers are charged for the use of cottages, the public beaches in Coney Island are open to all without restriction, and beach goers are not charged with any fee.
There are no cottages in Coney Island.
Coney Island’s beach area is divided into “bays”, areas of beach delineated by rock groynes, which moderate erosion and the force of ocean waves.
Meanwhile, there’s a sand beach at the west end of Coney Island at Sea Gate which is private and only accessible to residents.
There’s also a broad public sand beach that starts at Sea Gate at West 37th Street, through the central Coney Island area and Brighton Beach, to the beginning of the community of Manhattan Beach, a distance of approximately four kilometers.
The beach is continuous and is served for its entire length by the broad Riegelmann Boardwalk.
A number of amusements are directly accessible from the land-side of the boardwalk, as is the aquarium and a variety of food shops and arcades.
There is a 1,300-foot long public beach further down in the community of Manhattan Beach.

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Before going back to Queens, I dropped by at the world-famous Luna Park located across the beach and to watch several rides, I saw only in the movies, for a few hours.
There was an extreme thrill special feature, Coney Island Cyclone, the “Mother of American roller coaster culture” and the “Big Momma” of Coney Island, the Cyclone tops everyone’s list of things to do in New York City.
Another extreme thrills were Zenobio and Sling Shot, which I consider to be the most bizarre of all the rides I will never attempt to take.
There were also the high thrills: Coney Clipper, Astro Tower, and Steeplechase; moderate thrills: Circus Coaster, Coney Island Hang Glider, and Coney Island Sound; and the mild thrills for kids: Cozmo Jet, Speed Boat, and Mermaid Parade.

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

My friends in Vancouver are still feuding

“If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.”

— Winston Churchill
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HAPPIER TIMES. (L-R) Vice President Amado Mercado Jr., President and CEO Tomas “Tatay Tom” Avendano Sr., Alex P. Vidal


By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — I only learned over the weekend that Tomas “Tatay Tom” Avendano, Sr., 89, was reelected as president of the Vancouver-based Multicultural Helping House Society (MHHS) in an election held on July 28, 2018 described by our media colleagues in Surrey and Vancouver as “tumultuous and chaotic”.
MHHS is the umbrella organization of all Filipino-Canadian associations in British Columbia.
I also learned that some of the characters I personally know who used to support Tatay Tom were among those who tried but failed to dethrone him.
Tatay Tom has been president and CEO of MHHS uninterrupted for 22 years.
He has described MHHS as his “twin” saying he would only relinquish the leadership in that office if he is dead.
Many of his friends and former MHHS buddies have turned their backs on him and openly lashed at his brand of leadership for a myriad of reasons.
Their disenchantment growing, some of them had plotted to oust him but through a legitimate proceeding, and their only chance was during the election on July 28.
There were a total of 322 voters.
There was no accurate report how many showed up and how many were able to cast their votes, but Tatay Tom reportedly got a “landslide” victory.
Tatay Tom’s tormentors reportedly protested the “fraud” that attended the election to no avail.

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When I left Vancouver sometime in November 2012, I noticed that Tatay Tom’s imposing leadership in the MHHS was suffering from unwarranted cracks and starting to crumble.
So many personalities with different motives and valid advocacy were eyeing his throne; and they wanted him to yield the coveted positions and pave the way for other fresh faces to also lead and govern the beefy MHHS, a recipient of municipal, city and federal government funds that run to millions of Canadian dollars.
Tatay Tom, a Pasay City councilor for 12 years before he migrated to Canada in 1982, was unfazed. He refused to blink.
One of the first and biggest casualties in the MHHS power play when I was there was Vice President Amado Mercado Jr., an engineer from Minalin, Pampanga, who was fired by the MHHS board in a turbulent meeting I exclusively covered for the Philippine News Service (PNS), Global Balita, and my blogs:
1.https://alexpvidal.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/exclusive-amado-mercado-is-clean/
2.https://alexpvidal.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/crisis-in-mhhs-ousted-vice-president-i-will-consult-my-lawyer/
3.https://alexpvidal.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/mhhs-vice-president-what-shout/

Tears, word war, name-calling, charges of betrayal, shaming and emotional confrontation marred Mercado’s ouster who fought tongs and hammer trying to redeem his “sullied” reputation.
Mercado blamed Tatay Tom, his long-time buddy, who convinced him to attend the last board meeting he was present “only to be fed to the lions.”

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I learned also that some of those who prepared the “surprise” near-midnight farewell or dispededa party for this writer in a Surrey pizza house in November 2012 were among those who had collaborated but failed to topple Tatay Tom in the recent election.

They may have legitimate reasons to oppose the grand old man of the Filipino-Canadian community in the British Columbia whom they accused of nepotism and suspected of trying to control and transform the MHHS into his fiefdom, among other issues.
Or they envy his power and authority as MHHS big boss?
MHHS assists newly arrived Filipino caregivers and displaced OFWs who can avail of board and lodging in the center for several days.
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Filipino-Canadian friends had valid reasons to introduce me to Tatay Tom in one of my frequent trips there in 2008: Tatay Tom wanted to maintain a regular column in the Philippine Asian News Today published by our friend, Reynaldo “Rey” Fortaleza, who recommended me to “ghost write” for Tatay Tom for a modest sideline.
Without these friends, I wouldn’t be able to break bread and, for a while, earn the trust and confidence of the legendary community leader, who, at 89, is still in a fighting form and prepared to tackle all comers.
I learned that Tatay Tom “resented” the expose I made about the apparent lack of transparency in the construction of the MHHS annex building.
The City of Vancouver and the Federal Government of Canada reportedly chipped in $500,000 apiece for the entire MHHS building.
“Where’s the blue print of the project?” I inquired in an exclusive interview. “Where are the job orders?”
If Tatay Tom was slighted, I had no idea because I hadn’t talked to him until I left for Los Angeles.
I had no regrets with the expose I made.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2018 in Uncategorized