Thank you very much for opening up vistas where, as in a prism, all Vizcayanos congregate to illumine the who’s, the how’s, and the whys of our lives as Vizcayanos. Your marvelous and brilliant postings have given us a chance to get to know one another and to rekindle once more our identities as gaddangs, isinais, ilocanos, tagalogs, capampangans, and ifugaos who are all called Vizcayanos. The Vizcaya homepage has stirred our potentials as a people.
Just imagine my joy in knowing that so many Vizcayanos have scaled heights of prominence all over the world! In my ignorance I could be smug in the thought that my world alone exists to the exclusion of other worlds.
Napnuanac ti ragsac apaman nga na-amoac iti kinasari-rit ken takneng dagiti cailian tayo toy sangkalubungan.
I am Del Europa. I came to Toronto in 1986 , together with my daughter Rochelle to join my wife Lettie Gurat, also of Nueva Vizcaya, in Windsor, Ontario. Like many of us who left our country behind, I was a cock-eyed optimist with a firm conviction that our Philippine education was as good as Western education -- except that in the perception of North America, we are not at par. Mrs. Paz Garma, who had a masters in guidance and counseling and my co-instructor in St Mary's College for 17 years, had her education evaluated in Toronto and was assessed to have a level of education equivalent to the Canadian Grade 13! No wonder, when I applied for a position at Bay Street law firms in Toronto, I was invariably asked whether I had some training in Canadian law. I was quite flabbergasted and shocked, numbed to find out that, to be qualified, I had to have gone to a law school in Canada, this despite the fact that I had practiced law for 13 years in the Philippines and became a member of the judiciary for at least 4 years! My wife, a nurse, was lucky because she was only required to write an exam to be able to practice her profession instead of going back to school.
Hence, the first rule of life for me was survival: I became a parking attendant, a chocolate factory laborer, a Canadian Tire brake assembler.
Everyday of the first six years I would look into the mirror and thought to myself whether I was stupid to have demeaned myself and to have stooped to such a low level. Many times I thought about packing my things and going home to Bayombong to reclaim my pride and my profession. All judicial posts were declared vacant by Pres. Corazon Aquino and her revolutionary govt as the constitution was deemed suspended in 1986. By 1987 when I was in Canada, my mother Marcelina V. Europa phoned long distance that I was reappointed judge by President Aquino after she had screened and pruned the list of judges. Prior to that I talked to senator Ernesto Maceda by phone and said he had talked to then- justice minister Nephtali Gonzales about my appointment as regional trial judge and bid me to come home. But I was stubborn as a mule. Something held me back, even after I had already packed two balikbayan boxes . Lettie phoned Cely Farrol who owned a travel agency in Toronto so we could pay my plane ticket by visa but she and her husband was in a party.
missed the boat again. (Reminds me of the story of the Moors who had conquered a place thereafter called Morroco --I am not so sure about my world history, but correct me if I am wrong . The captain of the invaders bade all his warriors to burn all their ships so there would be no reason to return. They had burned all their bridges and would stay in the conquered land come hell or high water). So it was come hell to me (no heaven) in Canada. When was the water going to be high? I wondered. I remember a passage by Oliver Wendel Holmes: "A few can touch the magic string, and noisy fame is glad to win them. Alas for those who can sing, but die with the music in them." As you will see later on, did I have the music, but refused to sing it?
Last Sunday the Consul General
of the Philippines, Ambassador Francisco F. Santos, tendered a luncheon
in my honor on the occasion of my being called to the Ontario Bar. The
occasion was graced by Filipino-Canadian lawyers and businessmen. Held
in his home in Richmond Hill ( also called home by Elvis Stojko, the world
champion skater), he proved to be a very gracious host, personally serving
us like a waiter : pouring wine into our glasses
and offering us his prepared entrees.
It has been ten years since I first landed in Canada. In between, I was appointed the first Filipino law officer intern in the Ministry of the attorney general after winning a competition (1992) and the first Filipino
justice of the peace in Ontario(1993) while completing my LLB degree at the University of Toronto.
I am proud to say that we have our own "Nueva Vizcaya" here in Ontario. Being one of the founding members and the current adviser of the Nueva Vizcaya Community of Ontario, I have been working alongside very dedicated and focussed co-provincemates for the betterment of our province and its people. Our organization is presently spearheaded by:
Fernandico "Sonny" Bautista,
and supported by the following officers:
Vice-president: Jess Hombrebueno
Secretary: Noemi Flores
Treasurer: Felix Reyes Jr. (son-in law of Dra. Piscoso of Bagabag)
Auditor: Exequiel "Quiel" Bonares
Business Managers: Elma Jong, Mariano Duque
Board of Directors: Marcelino Guinto (chairman), Lettie Gurat Europa, Leo Dumo, Mike Ballesteros, Aurora Mangoma
Since the association's birth in 1992, we have raised funds (mainly through tri-annual dances) to establish a scholarship program (one is in place at St. Mary'sUniversity and another at Aldersgate College for high school students). As well, we have a computer scholarship for members in Toronto. One of the recipients is Felix Reyes Jr., our treasurer, who subsequently became and still is the vice president of Sumitomo Bank of Toronto.
Our next project is sending used clothing to indigents in Nueva Vizcaya, and possibly some medicines to distressed areas.
I am happy for the advent of the growing Nueva Vizcaya home page. May it be there for always as a place to reminisce and to give birth to innovative ideas and concepts that will propel Nueva Vizcaya into the stars.
our April 26 spring dance held at the City of North York Goulding Community
Centre, the Nueva Vizcaya Community of Ontario had 250 guests. ..Guest
Speaker was Marjo Cusipag, the daughter of Ruben Cusipag, the editor of
the first Filipino paper published in Toronto. She is the associate editor
of the paper. An awardee of the Gordon Sinclair scholarship for journalism
and the Toronto Sun Paul Rimstead memorial award, she was at one time also
a reporter of the Toronto Star.
In my introduction of her, I drew a parallel in our lives--that we unexpectedly took over our fathers' affairs. I took over the civil and criminal cases of my father, the late Rosito M. Europa,a law practitioner based in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya when he died in a helicopter accident at San Fabian, Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya on the eve of the elections as he was campaigning for a seat as delegate of the 1970
constitutional convention. Marjo took over the helm of the Balita when her father was severely injured in a vehicular accident lastJuly 1996. He is confined in a wheel chair but is showing significant progress on regaining some movement. As part of his rehabilitation he attends social functions with his wife, Tess who is taking good care of him.
the party, I helped push his wheelchair to a waiting cab specially designed
for wheel bound patients. (Tess' insurance coverage is taking care of the
tab as this cab is private. If it were the government paying, it would
be what we call here Wheel Trans.
At the back of my mind, I pondered how life is so imponderable, unpredictable and how in a split-second, one could lose almost everything, as exemplified by this man who a year ago was a vibrant, brilliant and enterprising journalist publishingone of the leading community newspapers in Toronto.
In Manila, he was a columnist for the Evening News. That was in 1968 when I was a proofreader in the same paper in charge of the editorial page and columns. I used to proofread his work but never met him in person until 24 years later in Toronto. He also covered the Malacanang and Justice beats.
Similarly, the consul general for Toronto, Ambassador Francisco F. Santos, was a newsman who, at one time, covered the Malacanang pool of reporters along with Amando Doronila (a recent Toronto visitor) and Kit Tatad. He recalled a death-defying experience when the light place in which the trio were flying nearly crashed. They were covering the state visit of the then Premier of Vietnam, Nguyen Cao Ky.
The purpose of the Nueva Vizcaya Community of Ontario (NVCO) party was to raise funds for scholarships. Every member under the executive committee, under the direction of my wife Lettie Europa, had an assigned task preparing the entrees, the menu. We used to hire caterers to take care one of the most prestigious lawyers' publication in Toronto.