Francis Santiago, an F&B employee in Singapore for seven years, heads for a new life in Canada with his wife, Kristel… after he was visited by an “angel.”
Journalism graduate Francis Santiago worked as a sports reporter with the Manila Bulletin for five years before he decided to seek better prospects in Singapore. That was in 2011 and resulted in a big change in profession – from journalist to a restaurant captain first in Watami restaurant and then as assistant manager with KFC.
That period in KFC proved the turning point for Francis as he has now secured a job with KFC in Canada. “My time with KFC Singapore helped me learn a great deal how KFC operates and also how one has to work hard if one hopes to get anywhere. I am now excited at the prospects of going to Canada with my wife, Kristel.”
They had been together for many years in a long-distance relationship and got married last year soon after she graduated with a BS Pharmacy degree and passed the board exams.
How did he land this job in Canada, a country which has been described as an ideal country for a young couple to start and raise a family, with its excellent lifestyle and education facilities?
Says Francis, who is 32: “Kristel has been trying hard to find a job in Singapore so that we could live life together as a newly-married couple. But it has been tough to even get an interview. Then late last year, this KFC customer gave me the website of a Canadian company that was looking to recruit workers under a new Canadian immigration programme – the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Programme.”
Francis believes the lady customer was the angel that was the answer to his and Kristel’s prayers. With new hope, he applied to Franchise Management Incorporated in Canada which operates a number of fast food outlets including KFC. That was in December. A skype interview followed, and then a required language test – the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) in which he scored 7.5 out of a top score of 9. The government’s passing level for the programme is 4.5. Francis, a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas, has been honing his journalistic skills as a volunteer writer for OFW Pinoy Star Singapore magazine and many of his fine reports have been published in our magazine over the years.
“I was overjoyed when I was told I got the job, which allows me to apply for a work permit as well as Permanent Residency at the same time.”
That will allow him to bring Kristel with him to Canada where she will apply for an open work permit. Says 31-year-old Kristel: “Once I get my permit and start working, I hope to be able to enjoy maternity benefits when we start a family.”
The couple will be based in Prince Edward Island, one of eastern Canada’s cold, maritime provinces off New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with a small population of about 140,000. The main businesses include agriculture and fishing. “I will be getting warm clothes for both Kristel and myself. I will also start learning how to drive, as the distances in Canada are great. I should be able to afford a car, something which would be quite unthinkable if I were to remain in Singapore.”
It will be a great adventure for Francis and Kristel. “I am of course a bit scared but like many Filipinos, we believe we must strike out for the great unknown if we want to succeed and make better lives for ourselves. The Philippines will always be our motherland and we will probably retire there…but in the meantime, Canada, here we come.”
The minimum wage in PEI, Canada is C$11.55 an hour. A five-day working week with a minimum of 35 hours should allow Francis, whose pay is above minimum, to earn more than $2,000 a month, less than what he earned in Singapore as an S-pass holder, but he feels he has a better future in Canada with the benefits he and his wife and future children will get as permanent residents.
You may email Francis at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want more details.