Urban planner-turned author
By Ted Alcuitas
Stumbling Through Paradise
A Feast of Mercy for Manuel del Mundo by Eleanor Guerrero-Campbell
For one who did not ’stumble’ as it were, in the so-called Land of Promise that is Canada, writing about the many who did struggle through life in an adopted country seems not possible.
But Eleanor Guerrero-Campbell has plenty of life-experiences both in her professional work as an urban planner and later, in immigrant-serving organizations
which provided her the impetus to weave the immigrant story.
Unlike the fictional Manuel del Mundo in ‘Stumbling Through Paradise’ who struggled to find his place in Canada as an immigrant, Guerrero-Campbell found the job along her professional training in the Philippines when she first arrived in Edmonton, Alberta in 19?
This is a story of del Mundo’s family who left everything behind to try to build new lives in Canada and the struggles they have to face.
Stumbling Through Paradise: A Feast of Mercy for Manuel del Mundo follows the journey of one Filipino family, who leave everything behind in order to build a new life for themselves in Canada, and their struggle to find their way.
“Blocked from finding work in their respective fields despite their qualifications and skills, they must decide between pride and practicality, survival and surrender. The choices and concessions they make will impact their lives, and the lives of their children, in countless ways. And in the end, it will be up to the second and third generations to offer redemption, and help create the paradise their parents had hoped to find.
A story of determination and hope, Stumbling Through Paradise showcases the indomitable spirit of those willing to risk everything for the chance of a brighter future, and captures with great clarity, the bonds of familial love and loyalty, which may bend but never truly break.”
Del Mundo’s story resonates with most Filipino immigrants and for that matter, all non-white immigrants who faced discrimination and racism right from the start.
Though screened and admitted because of their skills and training, most immigrants find the harsh realities that their qualifications are not worth a dime – they are made to work in menial jobs at low pay by companies and corporations making enormous profits but doesn’t want to pay the price.
Caught in a web of frustration and despair, del Mundo has to swallow his pride and survive for the sake of his family by adapting to the reality.
He pins his hopes on his children who could offer ‘redemption’ and finally find the elusive Paradise.
Arguably some immigrant children have found their way but for most, it remains a constant struggle.
Hopefully this book will be a beacon.
About the author:
When Eleanor Guerrero Campbell came to Canada with a Masters Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the Philippines and some years planning Metro Manila, she got the first job she applied for — planner for the City of Edmonton, Alberta. She continued on to plan the City of Surrey as Associate Director of Planning, and the City of Richmond as Manager of Policy Planning and Corporate Strategies.
And so she was surprised to find that in Canada, in the 80’s and 90’s, many highly skilled immigrants could not practise their professions. Very experienced internationally-trained engineers, doctors, and other professionals ended up driving taxis and cleaning floors. In response, she co-founded the Multicultural Helping House Society, a non-profit organization to help newcomers succeed in Canada. There she learned first hand about the problems of newcomers, and created programs to help skilled immigrants secure work in their field.
Eleanor directed the Looking Ahead Initiative, a BC wide program to improve the labour market integration of immigrants, working with multiple stakeholders. She authored Hiring and Retaining Skilled Immigrants: A Cultural Competence Toolkit, a guide for human resource managers of BC.
She chaired the City of Vancouver Cultural Communities Advisory Committee advocating for better integration of newcomers into city life. Eleanor has been recognized with various awards as a champion for multiculturalism and immigrant integration. Eleanor is currently co-convenor of the City of Vancouver’s Immigrant Partnership Program Access to Services Committee.
It became clear to Eleanor that the stories she encountered in the community deserved to be told — needed to be told. After retiring in 2012, she began work on Stumbling Through Paradise, using literary skills learned from her first degree English and Comparative Literature, courses with writing guru Natalie Goldberg, and her own experiences in the field to help shape her characters and their journey.
Eleanor writes and lives in Vancouver with her husband. When they are not travelling, they enjoy walking, cycling, and exploring the city’s neighbourhoods and cultural life.
Eleanor Guerrero-Campbell delivers a captivating look at the challenges faced by an immigrant family as they navigate life in multicultural Canada, and yet maintain a love for their village “back home”. She generously sprinkles her book with fun and delicious reminiscing to sustain them through their journey. As the story progresses, perils and pitfalls emerge. Eleanor dares to expose underlying issues of shortsighted immigration policies, social blunders, and human weaknesses. Canada’s immigrants stumble as they try to find a way to practice their professions that are so needed, yet wasted. With time and creativity, human spirit prevails, the family triumphs, Canada advances.
Insightful, smooth-reading, and with dynamic characters that sparkle, Eleanor’s “Stumbling Through Paradise” is a lighthearted and thought-provoking read for all.
Esmie Gayo McLaren
Director, Vancouver Asia Heritage Month Society
“…A story of determination and hope, Stumbling Through Paradise showcases the indomitable spirit of those willing to risk everything for the chance of a brighter future and captures with great clarity, the bonds of familial love and loyalty which may bend but never truly breaks…”
Melissa Remulla Briones
Philippine Canadian Inquirer