Fil-Canadian-owned college inspires caregivers to aim higher | Global News

Fil-Canadian-owned college inspires caregivers to aim higher

/ 12:03 PM February 19, 2015


Fanny Morales Calucag, founder of Cornerstone College, offers immigrants and caregivers a way to upgrade their skills and earning capacity. PHOTO BY MARISA ROQUE

TORONTO, Canada — When Fanny Morales was a young girl, she dreamed of traveling the world in search of adventure.  So she set her sights on becoming a flight stewardess.  When her father put his foot down on that dream, she settled for a foreign service degree from the University of the Philippines, hoping to work in Philippine embassies or consulates abroad.

Life had different plans for her. Eventually, she would found a college that helps caregivers upgrade their skills, professionalism and earnings.


Shortly after graduation, Fanny’s sister, Aurora, a nurse at Kingston General Hospital, sponsored her to come to Canada.  On Halloween 1970, Fanny arrived in Kingston, Ontario.  After a few years, she met Ruben Calucag, a geologist and also a UP graduate, and in 1975, they got married.


Three kids and a career at Queen’s University’s Administration Department kept Fanny busy, until the family moved to Toronto.  That decision served as the fulcrum for a career move that set Fanny Morales Calucag on her way to becoming an immigration consultant.

She took the course at Seneca College, and started FMC and Associates, Immigration Consultants.  Once the industry became regulated in 2002, Fanny took the exam and passed it, and her business flourished even more.

When pressed on how many compatriots she has helped come to Canada, Fanny replied, “Hundreds and hundreds!  It was amazing because we did not advertise.  Our clients referred us to more of their friends and relatives,” and the circle grew wider.

Something bothered Fanny, though.  When her clients came to visit her, she probed them on what their goals were, if they planned to upgrade to a higher level, if they wanted to get board certified for their educational degrees acquired in the Philippines after they had complied with their caregiver contracts.


One course at Cornerstone College is made up of 14 modules that include Safety, Mobility, Optimal Support and Care Planning, Cognitive Impairment and Mental Health, Abuse and Household Management and Meal Preparation, among others. PHOTO BY MARISA ROQUE

More often than not, her clients did not think they could progress beyond their caregiver status, mainly because they were too tired from their jobs, did not have time, or did not have the funds to further their education after sending the bulk of their pay to their families back home.

Fanny did not like what she kept hearing:  “Sayang naman!  These girls were college graduates–they were teachers, nurses, accountants!  They needed to upgrade their skills and be able to develop their potential, expand their horizons and make more money.”


“Being a caregiver is an honorable job, but you don’t want to be a caregiver forever” became Fanny’s “sermon” to her clients.

Her own nagging must have worked on Fanny too.  Before long, she set up Cornerstone College.  Her target students were caregivers who needed encouragement to pursue more education, “so they could be perceived as more professional.”

The college’s many programs include physiotherapy and occupational therapy assistant, palliative care, stroke rehabilitation and Parkinson’s disease rehab.

Fanny felt good when her graduates visit and tell her that. “They hold their heads higher, they have more pride in what they do,” she says.

Cornerstone College has become Fanny’s “apostolate.”  “Our goal is to help–we are not really here to make money, but to uplift those willing to work and learn.”

In 2012, her school funded 14 scholars.  “Mababa na nga ang tuition, pero sige lang, God will always provide.”  She tells her story of how her faith has always been sustained.  “Once I drove from Kingston to Toronto–on a nearly empty tank.  Panay ang dasal ko, wala na akong gasolina!  Pero nakarating!  O, tamo?” she crows.

Cornerstone College’s graduates inspire Fanny. “They come back and show me their PR (Permanent Residence) cards,” she says, “and they tell me, ‘Tita!  I can get my family na!  And I make $20 an hour now.”

Fanny’s graduates are her best advertisements.  To date, the number of retirement homes that accept Cornerstone students for their practicum is growing:  “L’Chaim, Four Elms, Cedarvale and The Brick House in the Greater Toronto Area, one in Mississauga, and we received approval in September 2014 for one in Cambridge, Ontario,” Fanny adds.

And Cornerstone College now counts ethnicities other than Filipinos in its student roster.

Truly multicultural and multinational.  Much like the global market served by the overseas Filipino worker.

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Fanny Calucag may have set down deep roots in Toronto, but she helps to fulfill her kababayans’ thirst for travel, adventure, and a work place in the world they have chosen.

TAGS: Filipino caregivers Canada, higher education

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