Filipinos remember caregiver-hero in Canada

By Veronica Silva, ABS-CBN Canada

Posted at Mar 13 2014 07:42 AM | Updated as of Mar 13 2014 03:42 PM

CANADA– Filipino migrant groups in Toronto commemorated the 5th death anniversary of former Pinay caregiver Juana Tejada.

Hailed as a local hero, Tejada paved the way for the so-called "Juana Tejada Law", a landmark legislation which removed the need for a 2nd medical exam for caregivers applying for permanent residency.

Tejada died in 2009 after losing her battle to cancer. She was a former member of the iWWorkers, a women's group fighting for the rights of Pinays in Canada, mostly live-in caregivers.

"I first met her when I was struggling with my own immigration, employment and healthcare issues. But what I saw in her at that time was her strength. She's very soft-spoken, silent most of the time. But that character actually inspired me, because I saw that silence as a sign of resilience," said Pinky Caneda Paglingayen, former caregiver and now settlement worker.

Tejada's sister Remy added, "Pinaglaban nya ang kanyang karapatan dahil alam nya na ito ang tama".

The event was marked by an information session with Pinoy employment and immigration lawyers, who continue to work with Pinoy migrant groups.

Tejada's former immigration lawyer, Rafael Fabregas, noted that the Juana Tejada's landmark legacy is still being challenged today.

"We're still seeing live-in caregivers being required by the immigration department to undergo second medical exams even though the regulations themselves say they don't have to undergo the second medical exam. That's a problem as the whole point of the campaign with Juana was to take that out altogether," Fabregas said.

Fabregas added the struggles of Pinoys in Canada inspired him to seek public office, as a possible Member of Parliament representing the Pinoy community in Toronto, home to more than a hundred thousand Pinoys.

Federal elections may not be until next year but as early as now, Fabregas is trying to rally the Pinoy community in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) to get another Pinoy MP in Ottawa.