Pursuing higher education

By Ted Alcuitas

Eight years ago in 2009 we featured four young graduates in the short-live Silangan newspaper. Titled ‘Bucking the Trend’ it was our attempt to encourage our youth to pursue higher education because of the troubling statistics that more Filipino youths  were dropping out of school.

Today we followed those four graduates and how they are doing.

Nicole Ignacio-Montgomery

Nicole, right, reconnects with Cora Alcuitas in Barcelona, Spain in 2016. (Photo: Ted Alcuitas)

Nicole now lives and works in Barcelona, Spain where she settled after finishing post-graduate studies in the University College of London.

She is currently Business Development and Operations Specialist with Manila-based EI Construction and Development Corporation.

She says she is “establishing the company’s online presence to assist with its growth and marketing strategy, as well as assisting managing finances and operation costs, “ in her LinkedIn profile.

Nicole worked for Vancouver-based Stantec Engineering as a Sustainable Building analyst after finishing her degree at UBC’s Global Resource Systems program specializing in Trade and Development in Asia.
Easter Tocol

Easter Tocol. (Health Sciences Association photo)

Easter Tocol now works with the Health Sciences Association as a social worker and constituency assistant after finishing her MA in Social Work at UBC.

She helps train and coach HSA members so they can meet with their MLAs to talk about the public policies that matter to the union. The goal is to educate and engage the MLA, ultimately in aid of better health care and social services policies.

Tocol brought to the position a deep belief in the power of civic engagement – and a ton of relevant experience. Before becoming a social worker she worked with youth and children in the social services and non-profit sector. She then worked as a constituency assistant for NDP MLA Adrian Dix for four years. She was active on many community committees, working on homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction and other issues.

In 2013, Tocol became the president of the Filipino Social Workers Association of British Columbia where, among other activities, she took the lead in organizing a ground-breaking conference to help service providers and care-givers better understand Filipino issues.

Tocol says that no one should ever doubt that their voice has power. “One of the most powerful things you can do is talk from your heart and share your personal story.”

Tina Brillantes

Tina Brillantes (LinkedIn photo)

Brillantes, who resides in Calgary , finished her Masters in Leadership at the Royal Roads University in Victoria in 2009.

Describing herself as an “exceptional relationship-builder, collaborator, and community developer, Brillantes is a team leader of the City of Calgary’s Community & Neighbourhood Services, managing a team of 13 employees.

Brillantes was Director of Preventive Services for Calgary’s Boys and Girls Club for more than five years before going the City of Calgary as the Community Recreation Coordinator for the Community & Neighbourhood Services.

In her current position as Team Lead, Community Partnerships, she provides strategic leadership of the Community Partnerships division including direct involvement with corporate policies, plans, and initiatives.

Her responsibility includes human resource functions and budget monitoring and reporting.

Greg Edwards

The mining engineer-turned chef returned to his first love – cooking, after spending some time in the mining industry.

Edwards completed his geological mining degree at the University of Nevada in 2009  and worked for Barrik Gold at their Nevada operations.

Before pursuing his mining career, Edwards was already a successful chef having worked with Vancouver’s renowned restaurants like Umberto’s, Il Giardino, Cicolo and Trattoria.

He moved to Toronto where he meet his now business partner and brother -in-law Matt Adolfo.

In 2015 ,  the two moved to Vancouver and launched Bao Down, a chain of restaurants which has now five locations in Vancouver and one in San Francisco.

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Bao Down’s current pan-Asian fusion menu combines Hawaiian, Thai and Filipino cuisines, with menu items ranging from chicken wings to Filipino-style paella to pork belly fried rice and, of course, bao—steamed buns or sandwiches stuffed with various fillings. Bao Down spins the concept with a melange of seasonings and sauces, offering everything from poke to sweet, cured pork to signature fries.

He told hoodline  that spots in Seattle will come after the one (maybe two) in San Francisco, while Portland looms on the horizon.

Eventually, he hopes Bao Down will have 50 locations along the West Coast.

Greg Edwards, right with co-owner Matt Adolfo. (Leah Villalobos photo)