Filipino Canadian’s Volunteer Advises Her Community: You Can Do It!

Angie Marquez was 14 when she came to Canada from Marikina, a district of Manila in the Philippines. “I was heartbroken when I left,” she remembers. “I cried for days.” Leaving her friends behind wasn’t easy. It’s the kind of experience you never forget. She, her parents and two elder brothers followed her six older siblings to Canada four decades ago, landing in Mississauga, Ontario.

Her parents didn’t deal well with the Canadian winters returning a year later, so she moved in her with an older brother in Stratford. “It was like two culture shocks,” she said. “I was one of only couple visible minorities in the school and I had to deal with a lot of discrimination at the school.”

After her parents returned to the Philippines, they stayed and she went back regularly for visits, but she hasn’t been back since 2010 after he mother passed away. Now, she’s about to return to Manila, but in a totally different way. As a Cuso International volunteer she’ll be working as a Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor for Trias, a Belgian organization working with groups like small-scale farmers to help them improve their business practices.

In Canada she works as a consultant with non-profits helping them in different areas such as fundraising and building their capacity. Realizing that she could do her work anywhere she followed her curiosity to work in international development to Cuso International. Interestingly volunteering in the Philippines wasn’t her first choice, but when she saw Cuso International had opportunities to volunteer in her home country she saw the opportunity. “I wanted to give back,” she says. “I’m excited to go back home. I’m excited about the work.” She understands that working in the Philippines will be different than Canada and that there might be higher expectations to understand the work environment on her than a non-Filipino.

Days before her departure, Angie is getting the last things done before one year in Manila. As she gets closer to the day she been speaking to members of her community about what she’s about to undertake and many are impressed. “There are so many professional Filipino Canadians with a hunger to give back (to the Philippines),” she says. “When I tell them about it they say, “Wow, that’s so nice. I wish I could, too.’ And I tell them, ‘You can do it!’”

Learn more about volunteering with Cuso International.