Pastry chef shares struggle working in Canada

By Rowena Papasin, ABS-CBN Canada

Posted at Jan 17 2014 03:30 PM | Updated as of Jan 18 2014 12:48 AM

Pastry chef Tina Velasco

VICTORIA, British Columbia - A Filipina pastry chef who came to Canada as a temporary foreign worker bakes her way to becoming an immigrant.

Pastry chef Tina Velasco was all smiles while decorating her purple yam cake. After all, her husband Alex and their children were able to join her in Victoria just a year after she came to Canada.

Considered as a highly skilled worker, Velasco quickly became an immigrant through the Provincial Nominee Program. But she discovered that not all was sugar and spice without her family.

"There are so many challenges talaga. A new country, and then you're alone, by yourself and then my family is in the Philippines and then I have three kids. It's really a struggle, a daily struggle because of the homesick and separation anxiety with your family," Velasco said.

Before coming to Canada, Velasco lived the sweet life working as a pastry chef at the Bellevue Hotel in Alabang and honing her skills through culinary competitions.

Her husband Alex was also managing their family business, but they both wanted something more for their children.

"It has been very challenging, initially. But we've met lots of good friends, nice people who helped us along the way. I must say this has been a good decision for us," he said.

Five years after leaving Manila, Velasco's Victoria clientele has steadily grown and have kept her busy with cake orders for all kinds of occasion.

But for Velasco, the real icing on the cake will be her very own bakeshop one day.

She believes success is possible for immigrants like her if they stick to doing what they love.

"Sometimes, it's really hard but you know they would just really like to go out and then look for whatever job that they could easily fit in their field. Don't give up. There are so many opportunities out there," she said.