How to Apply for Permanent Residency via Express Entry CEC (Filipino Citizens)

Skip to application process and don’t care for my musings?

In six days I would be residing in Canada for about four years. Four wonderful years filled with self-realization, careful open-mindedness, character stretching, and some growing pains. Five years ago I planned to immigrate to a country I’ve never been, to make my own living and future. I must admit, the end goal towards my plan seemed a little out of reach. It felt like I was taking forever… thinking, “Will I ever finish this through? When?” But lo and behold — just a few days ago I received the privilege to stay in Canada as a permanent resident. I was over the moon. Thank you, Jesus.

I landed with a study permit in 2013 in Vancouver, BC (beautiful place), and wrote a how-to about the study visa process for Filipinos. Apologies for not having replied to some comments and emails. It’s gotten a little overwhelming for me (sadly I am a lazy blogger) and most of the questions are either too relative (this lady has no idea about the extra process nurses or pharmacists go through, I’m in IT) or subjective (do you think x is a good school?).

But good news is, most of the information you need is a Google search away. It is honestly very easy to gather the required information online. *pep talk coming* If you really want this, you will spend the time to obsessively read through government infosites and forums.* pep talk ends* The best source of all info I had was the IRCC website itself. Totally commend the Canadian government for providing accessible straightforward information! I’ve applied online for both my study visa and PR myself and of course, so can you. Only get an agency to do this on your behalf if you are willing to spend $$$ for convenience and their expertise. I understand that some people don’t have the time to research all these things through.

Overall, I’m hoping this post continues to help people. Specifically those who also came on study visas and want to move on to the next step, if they so wish to stay. (Also thanks to Chad for encouraging me to write this or else I wouldn’t have thought to)

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Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, AB

KNOW THIS FIRST: You do not apply for Canadian Permanent Residency immediately, specifically in Express Entry. You create a profile and get assessed a score. Based on your profile, you will also find out which streams you are eligible for: Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Worker, and Federal Trades Worker. You are then put in a pool against other candidates. If you reach the minimum score on a draw, you may then be invited to apply for permanent residency. You will have 90 days to gather requirements and submit application. Click me for more info.

Helpful links:

Note: I did have a friend who already went through the old (paper) process of PR and he was extremely helpful, especially when it came to questions about the forms and documentation. I believe I wasn’t too annoying because currently, the Express Entry online application is very streamlined – so yay for us! 😀

Disclaimer: Canada updates its immigration rules fairly frequently. It is possible that by the time you read this, this info would already be outdated. Again, best to refer to official website.

This post is personal experience specific to Express Entry – Canadian Experience Class (Filipino citizenship).

Start an Express Entry profile with a valid work permit:

  1. See if you qualify for PR and reach minimum requirements. The big thing for me was to have at least 1 year Canadian work experience. Know your NOC. Ex. at the time of application I was a web/mobile programmer for games so my NOC is 2174.
  2. Take the IELTs or an accepted language test. Make sure there is a testing centre near you. IELTS cost $300. The higher your score the more points. You also have to meet the minimum required for your NOC. Make sure to put mother tongue as “Tagalog”, not English. To be safe, aim for at least 7 (IELTS).
  3. If you didn’t apply for your study permit online, create an account and within it, apply for Express Entry online. Otherwise just use your old CIC credentials. You will get a list of required documents to upload based on your answers from the wizard.
  4. At this point, you will only input data such as basic personal info, contact details, employment history, travel history, etc. You will later need to provide proof for everything you’ve declared if you get invited to apply for PR. So make sure you can support your profile.
  5. Plus any other requirements they ask… Submit entry for express entry! You can update your profile anytime, and your score will change according to your current circumstance. Ex. you could lose points for aging, or gain points when you add foreign work experience.

Is there a guaranteed way to get an invitation? Yes, kind of. Apply and be approved under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). This earns you 600 points, consequently skyrocketing your profile up the ranks. If you graduated with a Masters or PhD, you may be eligible to apply for PNP right after graduation.

To give you an idea, the following is a list of documents you might be expected to prepare.

Upon receiving an invitation to apply for PR:

  1. Medical Exam – I waited until I received notice to do it. You will have the option to go for an “upfront” medical exam. This is the quickest and easiest! Call an accredited CIC doctor, book an appointment and bring your papers. The results are valid for 1 year. It cost me $220.00.
  2. Gather necessary employment documents – Certification/Letter of Employment stating salary, hours, start date, paycheques, boss’ contact details, etc. from current and past employers.
  3. Make sure you have your education transcripts and proof of diploma/degree/masters.
  4. Police check – get an NBI Clearance. Plan this out! The easiest way for us to prove a clean record is to get this by visiting the Philippines. This could potentially delay your application especially if you get “hit” so plan ahead. I’ve heard there is a way to get this clearance from Canada but apparently it takes long.
    • you need police clearance from all the countries you’ve lived in (for more than 6 months)
  5. Prepare proof of funds – bank statements of all accounts, investments portfolios, RRSP, TFSA, trading accounts, credit card statements (given you have good credit score), and any financial agreements.
  6. Relative or host’s scan of PR cards and proof of relations (birth certificate, marriage certificate, proof of common-law partnership) – only if you have a relative/partner who is a citizen or PR. (optional – just extra points)
  7. Know your travel history – this can take a lot of time if you travel a lot. You’re going to scan all pages of your passport showing stamps and visas. Having a valid US visa, I feel, seems to be advantageous. You might need your old passport.
  8. Digital photos – head to a Walmart Photo Centre, London Drugs, or any studio that takes ID photos.
  9. Letter of Explanation – optional; only if you need to provide more information.
  10. Pay the fees and keep the receipts:
    • application fee: $550
    • Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF): $490

At a later point, you may receive correspondence via email and not from the IRCC account. Make sure you declared a current and working email address.

Call for interview: Bring the documents outlined on your notice. It’s a formality, and hopefully you will get your Landing paper today!

First come, first serve – maybe 8 people or so had the same schedule as me. I was second in line because I thought to arrive early not being familiar with the place. Went in, lined up as if we were waiting to pay at a teller. Someone called my name and asked for my passport, RPRF receipt, and photos. She asked me a few questions, I signed a few papers, and she stamped my passport. PR card would come in the mail maybe 3 months from now, she said. That’s it!

The process for Express Entry was quicker than expected. How fast your application moves may depend on how quick you submit the right documents, or your specific circumstance. For processing times, check here.

My experience may differ from yours. Nonetheless, pray fervently, try not to get into trouble, keep your finances in check, and you will be fine! Hope this helps you. God bless.

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2016.

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This year has been anything but ordinary.

I remember at the beginning of the year, I prayed for God to help me grow. Little did I know that meant for me to experience a series of hardships and circumstances beyond my comfort zone – one after another. It took a while for me to connect the dots, after wondering and crying and questioning the deluge that came about. And then one night it hit me: “…I asked for this. I asked for all of this, because I asked to grow and become better.” So post-confusion self-realization, I was at peace. I thanked the Lord for the opportunities and faced those adversities with renewed strength. Coincidentally, everything actually became easier to deal after that point.

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As the clouds cleared up to reveal the glorious snow-peaked mountains, the climb was much more enjoyable and exciting.

I realized this year that God knows me much more than I credit Him for, and despite (semi-strictly) self-imposing a certain path of a future for myself based on a matter of independence (a certain nazarite vow), He has showed me a far better plan than what I laid for myself. When I think I got things figured out, He shows me ‘Noop! You need me! I know much better than you.’ Of course.

Before I tackle my list, first things first. There’s been a change in the geographical context of my life. Thanks to much indispensable help I am now able to say…

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Good bye Vancouver, BC… Hello Calgary, AB!

So on to my yearly round-up – here’s the list from previous annual post.

1. Get a BC driver’s license
– This is definitely one of my longest put-off goals. I’ll be honest to say I failed thrice. :( The last one was an instant fail when I was 10km/h above a school zone (I missed the sign). I couldn’t help but tear up at a Starbucks post-test, thinking to myself, “Am I really that bad of a driver?”. I’ve been driving in the Philippines for years. Before this year I drove quite well on the road in Cebu. While I was talking to a dear friend on the phone, a lady came by and asked me if I was alright, gave me a hug and a bottle of sweet juice. Shortly after a Starbucks barista gave me a matcha frappuccino for free. Such kindness from strangers I wouldn’t have experienced if I had not been defeated by my road test.

Remedy: To earn an Alberta driver’s license this coming 2017. Altho I am resolute in laying off getting a car as long as I continue to work remotely.

2. Do the splits (since 2013..)
– There’s been progress for sure, but I still haven’t achieved this!! If anything I’ve felt less time to work on this. Anyway, I’m keeping this mini-goal.

3. Learn how to cook better, and consistently make raw vegetarian food. This will be merged with ‘Continue to eat healthy’.
– I am proud to say I can cook (veggies and fish) well enough for me not to feel deprived. Level up, baby. Woohoo

4. Take more photos and actually make videos.
– I’ve been taking more videos and photos which I haven’t posted. I hoped to edit a video as a year-ender but ohman artistic laziness cripples me…

5. Write more so that I can learn how to express myself better.
– Fail! This should be better after I create a new blog layout this year. (C’mon Anne!) Plus I’ve deleted my Facebook app to avoid mindlessly scrolling the darn newsfeed.

6. Concentrate on developing the fruits of the Spirit.
– Forever and ever and ever and ever…

7. Read more books and watch more documentaries.
– Watching documentaries has become one of my favourite pastimes!! I think I can check this off as it’s already part of me. Someday I will get a portable-sized Kindle and read my books there instead of the Kindle app on my iPhone. It took me many regular commutes to finish “Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus” and it was insightful – I am really enjoying learning about the fundamental psychological facets of people.

8. Save enough money for a good investment, and regularly save at least 20% of my salary.
– This is much more achievable now that I live in Calgary. Thank you Lord. It’s a very humble amount of savings but I am happy to be able to have some.

9. Continue to exercise regularly.
– Semi-regularly… But will become more regular this 2017! I will be doing more yoga and spin classes with my sister.

10. Move out to a cheaper place before the end of the year!
– Woohoo! Check! I finally have my own place. What a dream come true, a check off the bucketlist of my life.

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11. Work on my wisdom wall.

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Things I want to accomplish in 2017:
– Develop a new blog theme using the WordPress REST API.
– Join a Contiki tour!! Setting my sights on the Spotlight on Greece tour.
– Fly to Portland, OR for the React Native Conference this summer 2017.
– Visit Cebu, PH for our 10 year highschool reunion and visit friends and family.
– Meet and get to know my boyfriend’s family in Cebu! ^^
– Take more photos when traveling. Maybe video making takes too much time for me right now.
– Get an AB driver’s license.
– Continue giving my tithes to IJM and other organizations, or a home church in the SW.
– SPLITS
– Continue to learn Spanish. Como estas?

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Everyone’s new year’s cliché – Let’s get fit!!! Metabolism isn’t what it used to be.

Things that happened in 2016:
– The highlight of 2016 was moving from Vancouver to Calgary! Thank you Chad for flying to Canada to help me drive a U-Haul. I wouldn’t be able to move as smoothly as I did without you and my sister. You’re the best.
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Chad took me sightseeing on the way from British Columbia to Alberta and it was wonderful (autumn is my favorite season). I was so happy. Canada is ever beautiful, and every year I fall more in love with this country.

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Throughout my life in Vancouver, these Hongers have been my friends in this foreign country. My life wouldn’t be the same without them. Will definitely miss them all. 

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I always looked forward to bible study and bonding with these lovely girls! Thank you for the super sweet scrapbook you all took time to make for me. I love it so much.

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– The first game studio I worked for sadly closed down. It was quite an experience to go through my first layoff and company bankruptcy. People in the industry said this is common – the cyclical nature of working in the games industry.

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My station at Roadhouse, beside Camila who became my Ecuadorian work BFF! I developed the front-end engineering of the in-house game admin tool while she did UX design.

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(L-R): Gui, Leto, Bryan, Jani, Nick, Ligia, Sarah and me.

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Camila and Helen! Oh how I miss eating lunch and talking with you girls in person!

– Started working at Shoal Games as a front-end engineer. Guess what? I work from the comforts of my own home!! Way earlier in my career than expected. I am officially a mobile app developer thanks to Facebook’s React Native language.

– Toured around Banff and Calgary when Ken visited Canada. We had a mini Bethanian reunion. What a small world.

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Holding up the years our batch graduated from Bethany – 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

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Beautiful Lake Louise, ever changing throughout the seasons yet consistently a sight to behold. Surprisingly I never tire of it.

– Traveled to the UK and toured around London, Thrapston, Bath, Oxford, Oundle and Wales. It was absolutely enchanting. I loved learning about the history and marveling at the classical beauty of the UK and France.
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Met up with my friend Candy who’s now a nurse living in London. Lucky girl!

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Didn’t expect Big Ben to be so beautiful, much more in person.

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At Cottswold, England with Achi and Aunty Zeny. Dreaming of retiring here someday, maybe.

– Took the Eurostar train to Paris. Wow, the city is a dream… No wonder they say Paris is always a good idea. They are so extravagant. All or nothing!

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Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral

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Chapel inside the grand Versailles

All of my Europe photos need a blog post of their own!

– Photographed the prewedding of Ryan and Christina.
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– Flew to San Francisco, ate the best chocolate fudge sundae at Ghirardelli, toured the infamous Alcatraz Island, rode the cable car around the bay area and played at the Musée Mecanique. I met up with my close friend who just finished law school. Congrats Jai!

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– Finally got to attend the TEDx Stanley Park event at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Bucket list – check!! This was a treat for the mind.tedx-stanley-park

– Made a friend while waiting at a bus stop. We went out together, and even did a spin class together (the best spin class I’ve ever tried thanks to Ride Cycle Club). Hello, Kyna! You are one of the nicest and friendliest girls I’ve ever met.
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– Volunteered at the Salvation Army’s soup kitchen for the homeless in Vancouver’s Chinatown.

– Made almond milk from scratch!

– Watched an opera for the first time – Madame Butterfly.
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– Ran my first 10K – the Vancouver Sun Run. Wow, that was a great experience!! I was sore all over the next day.
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– Attended the Sol (Latin) festival.
– Listened to a Disney x Broadway orchestra at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts.
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– Toured around Victoria and went whale watching~ Although whales were MIA that day :( Lots of seals and seagulls though… I won’t give up! I need to do this again!

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– Toured Chad around Vancouver and brought him to Whistler Blackcomb’s gondola – the longest gondola in the world.

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– Visited Drumheller and the Royal Tyrell Museum (I think this is my favorite museum in Canada so far). Who doesn’t love dinosaurs?!

– Photographed the Vi family portrait.
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– Photographed the Kwok family portrait.

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– Visited my godchild, Ellie Managbanag, in Seattle, WA and shot their family photos.
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– Drank glacier water at the Athabasca Glacier / Columbia Icefields and rode the Columbia Ice Explorer.
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– Took a ferry to Spirit Island, Jasper AB. You can go around the island in just an hour.
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The water around here was a beautiful aquamarine due to it being glacier-sourced.

– Spent Christmas and New Years with family and Barangay Calgary! Imagine free ice skating and hot chocolate as we countdown the NY with fireworks and a romantic french song in the background. Calgary is such a family-friendly city. It really is growing on me.

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This year has been eventful and at the start, quite the rollercoaster ride. It felt like I was constantly in flux, and that’s okay. I did ask for growth and the Lord was kind enough to carry me through it all. A special note: I got to see a long-time friend as the unexpected love of my life. Getting into a relationship was the last thing I ever thought of this year especially since I initially started off 2016 on a vow of singleness. Nevertheless, there are no regrets. I’ve never been a happier girlfriend. Thank you Jesus for knowing my heart and for the blessing of Chad. Twelve midnight and later today I will be back to work – here’s to 2017!

P.S. there is a bug in the WordPress image uploader that flips some iPhone photos upside down. I will fix this soon.

2015.

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I wake up so early these days it’s so unlike me, but I don’t mind.

I tell myself I had a beautiful year; 2015 was sweet. I finally graduated from BCIT, with distinction and academic awards I didn’t seriously think I could achieve (thank you Jesus). I look back and realize it’s because of a disciplined attitude I chose to keep way back in high school after reading this verse in the Bible: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” (Colossians 3:23). That, coupled with my love for learning. I’ve always been enthralled by the process of learning new things and skills. Over the years I’ve developed a growth mindset, meaning:  1.) I don’t mind making mistakes or constantly falling (it’s really not that big of a deal if you don’t make it out to be)  2.) I concentrate on enjoying the process and compete with myself instead of others (because I am not comfortable competing against others anyway…)

I find these things so important not just in the pursuit of happiness, but also in the maintenance of psychological and emotional health. I hope to someday nurture this same mentality in my future child/children! I want them to grow up as independent-thinkers, in addition to of course being firm believers in Christ, who believe they can do anything they want as long as they don’t give up. Now maybe some of the skeptics and naysayers might say “Aren’t you encouraging idealistic ambitions in a harsh ever-degrading society? The world is not all sunshine and rainbows.” Yes, I know. But there’s a difference when a child believes he can shoot for the moon, because, yes now you know it, he might land amongst the stars!

However, there’s an essential ingredient to that mix: The ability to accept disappointment.

The more we shelter children from every disappointment, the more devastating future disappointments will be. -Fred G. Gosman

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Okay, major sidetrack! Getting back to the round-up of 2015. From last year’s annual post, here’s my checklist:

1. Get a good job that will make me want to wake up early from Mon-Fri.
– Wow. This one is really something… The year before I also prayed that I may get a job I truly enjoy. I honestly thought it would just be wishful thinking, almost impossibly too idealistic, but guess what. I am now working… at a mobile game studio… doing front-end web development work… which I love! I *actually* enjoy my work. It’s crazy I know, but that’s grace!

2. Get a BC driver’s license (commuting wastes so much time huhu)
– I took the road test last Monday but failed :( But rightly so, I took a left on a green light in the intersection and assumed the opposing side was red, which now I realize is from an instinct driving in the Philippines. But it’s alright, I will try again next week! No plans to get a car yet though.

3. Live by myself or with another female housemate in an apartment, preferably in Burnaby or close to my future workplace.
– Wow wow, double wow. This is spot on! I live with a sweet Scottish-Indian roomie downtown, right next to BC Place, Stadium-Chinatown Station and Roger’s Arena. Although it’s not super close to my office, the commute isn’t bad and the location is amazing. I love it when I live somewhere walkable. One time as I was making granola, I realized I lacked oats… Granola without oats, say whaat. So I grabbed my coat, ran down to the nearest grocer, picked up oats and walked back to the apartment, all in 10 minutes? I love it. City-living convenience at its finest.

4. Do the splits (hahaha! This was a small goal I made at the end of 2013. It’s much harder than I thought…)
:( This is a goal that I am unexpectedly taking waaay longer to achieve. Postpone.

5. Learn how to cook better, and consistently make raw vegetarian food. This will be merged with ‘Continue to eat healthy’.
– I can cook vegetarian food better in a sense that they don’t taste as bland anymore so yipee! I have discovered the secret: spices spices spices. Next I should learn how to make real dishes instead of roasted veggies and fried rice/bibimbap style meals.

6. Take more photos and actually make videos.
– Nooope. This has gone downhill. I am planning to sell my Canon 5D Mark ii soon in exchange for a more compact, convenient DSLR-quality camera, such as a Fujifilm XT-1. This is going to be a very difficult breakup for me though… The quality and colors of the 5D are too beautiful to let go.

7. Write more so that I can learn how to express myself better. Hopefully after school I’ll have more time to blog. I really wanna make more helpful blog posts if not creative ones.
– FAIL. lol. I will just take this out entirely and concentrate on making a new blog theme… Now that WordPress has launched its own REST API! I am less apprehensive about the time consumption of making this new theme. Woohoo for ajax calls, good bye PHP-driven WordPress codex.

8. Concentrate on developing the fruits of the Spirit.
– This process is actually perpetual, until the day I die. So I guess this will be a sticky-goal. *marked* I think this year I need to work on my forbearance and gentleness.

9. Read more books and watch more documentaries.
– Hmm. I am currently reading 2 books. I guess progress wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Not great either. Documentaries were less than the year before but I’ve ended up watching for TEDx Talks and classical movies. Whenever I feel meh watching Audrey Hepburn instantly makes me forget the meh-ness.

10. Save enough money for a good investment, and regularly save at least 20% of my salary.
– This starts this year :) I will do my best. In addition to my tithing~

11. Continue to exercise regularly.
– Once I recover from this cold I’m going to enrol myself at… 😀

Things I want to accomplish in 2016:
– Get a BC driver’s license.
– Do the splits (I won’t give up!!)
– Learn how to cook better, vegetarian quick meals. I want to master this type of cuisine.
– Develop a new blog theme using the WordPress REST API.
– Continue developing the fruits of the Spirit: “…love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23
– Read a book every night before I sleep instead of staying on Facebook (ok, cut-off is 8:30PM) and watch more documentaries.
– Have at least $10,000 as savings. Save 20% of my salary. Although I want to save more, my rent is already almost 40% of my salary /cries
– Move out to a cheaper place before the end of the year!
– Exercise regularly and have fun with it! Run with the girls every Sunday, go the gym/studio after work to de-stress.
– Continue my wisdom wall until the very end:
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Every morning and night I write Scripture from the Bible so I can instil or somehow remember them into my life. It’s a great thing to do. My sleep is much better when I end my night doing this. Hopefully by the end of the year this wall will be super full of post-its yipee.
– Most prominently I have decided to dedicate this year to the Lord in singleness. I am on, what my friend calls a Nazarite vow. I want to concentrate on growing in my faith and as an individual this year.

Things that happened in 2015:

– Visited my sister, her family and my friends in Alberta! It was so much more fun than I ever expected!
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I got to experience dog sledding, snowboard with my friends, see my sister and her family try the snow sports for the first time (I’m so happy the kids had lessons!), go snow shoeing, ice skating….
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I am soo happy! Heehee. God is so good. I feel the love and grace overflowing.

– Internship at Flowmarq Creative Inc together with Christina. Thank you Pastor Brian Ho, Jeremy Kwok, Rachel Poon and Alice Huang!
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– Developed a digital marketing micro-site, My Mercedes Experience
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– Designed and coded my own WordPress-based digital portfolio at www.anneuy.com
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– Graduated from BCIT with distinction and academic and achievement awards for Digital Design and Development
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– Toured the Electronic Arts (EA) headquarters in Burnaby. I used to be so addicted to The Sims!
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– Photographed my first freelance wedding gig at Grouse Mountain
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– Photographed my first family photoshoot in Richmond
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– Photographed my dear friends, Christina and Ryan’s civil wedding
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– Spent my summer in Cebu with family and friends :)
– Trekked all the way up to Osmeña Peak with my high school classmates. The view was amazing! You could see Cebu from east to west!
– Traveled to Manila with Natalie and stayed with our dear friend Karla. Had a blast doing a horror Escape room with the girls and Hazel
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– Joined Living Word church’s Young Pro camp at Talamban. It was so fun!
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– Toured around Vancouver with family
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– Toured around the beautiful city of Victoria (with a sunburnt face)
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– Toured around Calgary and Banff with family and Chad + Ian
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– Visited Allie in Seattle in the summer when she was still very much preggy :)
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– Attended a Paint Nite social session
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– Went up to Agassi to see the tulip festival with Kryz Uy, her sister, Jacklyn and their beautiful mom
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– Went to Whistler with the ladies from my small group at Willingdon. First photo is epic-level blurry but I think its the only one with all of us…
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– Moved out of my dorm… It was so bittersweet
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– Moved in to an apartment downtown with my roomie, Rittu Berman. Check out the view from my room!
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– And finally, the most impulsive thing I have ever done in my life…. Helix piercing on my right ear.
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Okay, quick story and the deal about my piercing. Just a week ago I was attending C3 Church (Sundays 10:15AM at Cineplex Odeon Cinema 8, International Village). All throughout the service there was a mother (one of the many) carrying and soothing her baby in a tula in front of me. She passed me a smile, and I instantly felt a connection with her. As she sat with her head back in front of me, I saw the beautiful blue stud on her helix piercing. I don’t know why, but it made me reflect on SO many things in my life–changes, goals, events, feelings, thoughts… And then it hit me. I want to dedicate 2016 to the Lord and to concentrate on growing as an individual. Just myself and the Lord this year… No potential of a distraction for dating/relationship or any of the sort. Someday I want to be a mother, and I seriously want to prepare for that because in my heart and mind I know raising a child does not come easy– it should be treated very seriously! As of today, I am honestly not sure that marriage is for me or on my radar (if it is God’s will for me then I will receive the blessing gladly), but I am sure that I have been impressed to adopt. Writing this out publicly is now like an unofficial declaration of my intention. All I know is this: I want to give a child a second chance at life, and then when she/he grows up, I hope she/he might be compelled to adopt as well as a way of giving back.

My realizations were so heavy that I felt the importance of solidifying it permanently, and so came the piercing. This way, I will always be reminded that I am no longer the same person as before. I want to be more courageous and strong, but at the same time become kinder and more gentle.

26.

This birthday post is around three months delayed and for good reason: Unlike last year, I spent my birthday back in Cebu with my family and shortly after departed to start a new chapter of my life here in Vancouver. As of this writing I am officially no longer a student, but by God’s grace, now part of the Canadian working force (on a post-graduate work permit)!

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My whole summer in the Philippines was my very last stretch of an afforded vacation. I knew I wouldn’t be able to spend a whole season once I started working. It was a blessing to be able to spend time with my family and friends. I went out almost everyday! That’s crazy draining for an introvert like me, but well worth it as I look back on all the memories I’ve made (board game nights were the best). Although Fritz and I aren’t together anymore, I am glad we remain friends. Despite the love and care we have for each other, our priorities have caused our paths to diverge into an incompatible future. Last summer we already called it quits, but he treated our last months together in friendship as nothing but self-less. He killed me with kindness. For that and more, he will always have a special place in my heart. I have grown and learned so much in our four years together and I will always be thankful for meeting him. If ever you are in Cebu and get to hear of his catering or cooking, you’d be wise to give it a try. He is a very talented chef and that’s no bias.

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Nat and I celebrated our birthdays together at the BIG Hotel, owned by our good friend Kate Ngo. We had our high school classmates and their significant others join us for dinner. A few birthdays ago I had the idea to make a time capsule for us. All of us wrote our goals for our 25th and 30th birthdays and when it was time, we’d open our papers together to reflect on our life progress. Charlie said we should read our goals out loud to each other when we hit 30. I’m not sure everyone would want to but that would be really interesting!

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If I could be painfully honest, I now feel more at home here in Canada. If I could have any crazy one-time wish it would be to bring all of my family and friends here. I can truly testify how much God knows my heart because he’s brought me to my own paradise here on earth. Even a routine walk to work brings me so much awe as I pass by pigeons flying towards the North Shore Mountains. I am not sure if my future lies in this country, but for now my heart is.

2014.

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The amazing view from Whistler’s Peak to Peak Gondola. Soo high up in the sky!

It’s now 2015. Wow… Somehow I have an unshakable feeling that this year will be very different for me. I’m both excited and a little nervous, but definitely more excited. Throughout the years, I’ve learned it’s healthier and lighter to my heart to be optimistic about the future and people in general. This year I’ve grown as a young adult and learned more about myself than I have ever before. Living alone and learning to be independent gave me a lot of personal time and space to think about who I really want to be: the values I want to hold and the beliefs I want to keep. I choose to be happy and contented. I have and made real friends, went places, learned about other cultures and witnessed beautiful things I never thought I’d have the opportunity to. I can’t ask for more. God is really really good, and in my life I am blessed to say I have no regrets thus far.

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Watching eagles and birds flying freely in their natural environment.

I wish for every young adult to find the same peace as I do now. Nowadays identity crisis seems to be a common experience for people my age. The media is so strong about what they want you to believe in, to make you think you should be this and that, to want and need these and those, to look like him or her, but what do you really want to be? If you were to look outside of yourself for a day, would you be happy about who you’ve become? Maybe on the inside you’d actually want to make a difference by helping others, being extra good to your friends, learning to appreciate even the smallest things, or becoming sweeter and more comfortable with your family. We all wish to become better versions of ourselves. That’s why there’s such a thing as New Year’s Resolutions. But why can’t people just choose to become better every moment they realize they should? Just try and try again, make mistakes, learn from them, be careful next time, and apologize when due no matter the excuses your pride makes.

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I’m only human. I make mistakes, but I have only one life to live so I’m going to shamelessly live it to the fullest. Do what I want to do as long as I don’t intentionally hurt people, share beautiful things, make people laugh, let petty offences slide, brush off other people’s unconstructive negativity, and forgive others easily. There’s a saying that always stuck to me since I was a teenager. It went something like this: “You are who you define yourself to be.” If someone keeps saying he’s a loser, he will end up being one and will probably live a “sad” life. Quotations are there because he’s not really living a sad life, he just makes it up to be. On the other hand, if someone believes so strongly that he will succeed in life, he eventually will because that mindset will exhaust everything it takes to get there.

Anyway, I’ll stop here. It’s getting to be more of a reflective post than my annual blog post! Haha. Ok Anne, here were your goals set last year:

1. Graduate from BCIT with honors (if there is such a thing? if not, I’ll settle for just good grades)
– Hmm… Why did I write this? I’m still graduating in June of 2015 not 2014, but I’m marking it as accomplished because I got 2 scholarship awards last month (The BCIT Faculty and Staff Association Scholarship & The BCIT International Student Award)! My teacher said I got the highest GPA in the School of Business so I’m pretty stoked. Surprised and really happy! It truly doesn’t seem like a lot of effort when you study what you’re interested in.

2. Get a job here that I’ll actually enjoy! Wishful thinking… But *OPTIMISM*..!
– Nope. No job yet. Not even legally allowed to work here.

3. Become stronger physically by developing a habit for exercise.
– Wow finally. I feel like this has been a goal for sooo long. Hahaha. I now do pilates every week! I found it’s easier to make a habit by actually scheduling it on the calendar.

4. Continue to eat healthy.
– I won’t mark this off coz I want to keep doing it, and I actually feel like I can still do better.

5. Learn how to cook better, and make raw vegetarian food.
– In all honesty, my cooking is still bland :( Need more practice.

6. Take more photos and learn how to make videos.
– I kinda take more photos than last year… Definitely a slight improvement. Editing and uploading them weren’t consistent in the middle of the year, but at the end I caught up. I need to blog more though. I learned how to make videos in class but I never ended up making one for myself! So moving this again to next year’s goals.

7. Write more so that I can learn how to express myself better.
– FAILED. SO BAD. I need to write mooooooore blog poooosts. The struggle for clarity in my speech is real.

8. Concentrate on developing the fruits of the Spirit.
– Need to work on this more. :( sigh. Thankful that the Love of Jesus overflows and I can keep on going.

9. Read more books and watch more documentaries.
– I haven’t read as much books or watched as much documentaries in 2014. The last documentary I watched was “Hungry for Change” which I highly recommend!! The last book I read was “How to Pay Less and Keep More For Yourself: The Essential Consumer Guide to Canadian Banking and Investing” by Rob Carrick, recommended by a wise friend.

Count: 2/9. Not impressed with myself at all. LOL. Let it be a lesson though, don’t take yourself too too seriously. I’m still pretty happy with all the general improvement. XD

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 Things I want to accomplish in 2015:
– Get a good job that will make me want to wake up early from Mon-Fri.
– Get a BC driver’s license (commuting wastes so much time huhu)
– Live by myself or with another female housemate in an apartment, preferably in Burnaby or close to my future workplace.
– Do the splits (hahaha! This was a small goal I made at the end of 2013. It’s much harder than I thought…)
– Learn how to cook better, and consistently make raw vegetarian food. This will be merged with ‘Continue to eat healthy’.
– Take more photos and actually make videos.
– Write more so that I can learn how to express myself better. Hopefully after school I’ll have more time to blog. I really wanna make more helpful blog posts if not creative ones.
– Concentrate on developing the fruits of the Spirit.
– Read more books and watch more documentaries.
– Save enough money for a good investment, and regularly save at least 20% of my salary.
– Continue to exercise regularly.

Things that happened in 2014:
– Traveled solo to and from Vancouver and Seattle by train (Amtrak Cascades) and bus (BoltBus). I felt like I was going on an adventure!

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Spent a great Christmas with old friends in Washington.

– Went to Whistler to snowboard with Honger friends.
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I’m the only Filipino-Chinese girl who can’t speak Cantonese tagging along lol.
I owe one of the best couples in the world, Christina and Ryan, for most of my awesome experiences here in Canada!!

– Created my first hybrid mobile app using Intel XDK. Programmed by me and designed by Christina Chan.

– Invited to speak to the students of St. Theresa’s College (STC), Cebu about my passion for storytelling in photography.
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– Completed my first year of studies in Digital Design and Development at BCIT. One year more to go!
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– Learned how to create visual special FX (told you I learned how to make videos :P)

– won prizes from a contest by Study in BC :)
– visited my dad’s hometown in Dipolog since who knows how long. For my cousins who are reading this, I owe you this album I’m so sorry for the late upload!!
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– visited my hometown in Cebu for 3 months. Made warm memories with family and my boyfriend, and played lotssss of boardgames with my close friends! :)

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Cheers to 2015, looking forward to all the goodness and experiences ahead!!

Happy New Year everyone!

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