What makes Paulina run (for office in Toronto)

Paulina and Ben Corpuz; she is running for a Toronto city council seat. INQUIRER/Marisa Roque

TORONTO, Ontario — Her own words on her experience when she was younger and still in the Philippines, offer a clue:  “We are six brothers and four sisters, ten including me.  Two have died.”

A younger sister was born with a disability (deaf), she added. “She died at the age of ten, in a hospital that did not have the medicine to help her. My brother had to travel and buy the medicine from another place and he arrived just when my sister died…in my arms…. This is why I understand the plight of people with disabilities and their families.”

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Paulina said she never really thought about running for public office, but now she is: “My running for is just another phase of my service to the community.  I have always served the community in so many different ways, in a way that is service to the public.”

Paulina enumerated the following issues on her platform:

•  Community safety — Safer roads for pedestrians, commuters, cyclists, and drivers

•  Better transit — Support for the Eglinton Avenue East extension project

•  Decent affordable housing — Find a better way to respond to the affordable housing issue

•  Better business environment, generate good local jobs — Engage communities, private enterprises/businesses and government to create    partnership and revitalize the community

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•  More spaces and programs for children, youth, women, seniors, and newcomers

• More support for people with disabilities and their families

Scarborough Southwest is bounded by Victoria Park Avenue to the west, Markham Road to the east, Eglinton Avenue East to the north, and Lake Ontario to the south. Toronto’s advance polls are on October 10 -14.  Election day is October 22.

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Veteran activist 

Paulina Balisi Corpuz, born in Ilagan, Isabela, took psychology at the University of the Philippines.  She was active in the student movement then, particularly on the issue of tuition fees. “I was deeply concerned, as well, about the state of the Philippines during the Marcos dictatorship and about human rights violations,” she added.

She is a natural advocate, maybe due to the experiences that shaped her in her youth and in her working life in the Philippines.  After university, she worked with the San Miguel Brewery Cooperative Credit Union “and helped it grow from a twenty- thousand -pesos to millions- of- pesos membership.”

City of Toronto Ward 20, Scarborough Southwest. INQUIRER.net correspondent drew boundary lines denoting Paulina Corpuz’s riding. ELECTIONS ONTARIO

She started out with two staff (including herself) and grew that to ten people by the time she left.  “The credit union expanded from providing loans to members to financing other home products that members needed,” shared Paulina.

Paulina moved on to work as project coordinator with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines–Luzon Secretariat for Social Action.  She helped community agencies on project evaluation and planning.  She conducted on-site visits, interviewed project participants, and prepared evaluations of funding proposals.

Relief worker

When the CBCPLUSSA was restructured, Paulina became the Regional Coordinator of its Socio-Economic Development Deskexpanding her duty to management of the Relief and Rehabilitation Desk, which looked after the Regional Relief Operations (Luzon) and the rehabilitation program for communities affected by natural disasters.

During her tenure, two major calamities happened–a major earthquake (7.7 on the Richter scale) in July 1990 flattened the Baguio Hilton and an elementary school in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija.  “It was heartbreaking to see the bodies of children crushed by the collapsed building,’ said Paulina.

In June 1991, Mt. Pinatubo in Luzon erupted, causing devastation to the areas flooded by “lahar.”  Paulina’s job was to raise funds and relief contributions.  “In the aftermath, it is helping community rise from the devastation,” she said.

The Pinatubo eruption nearly cost Paulina her first-born, “due to relief operation work, loading boxes of canned goods, used clothes and other basic necessities that we personally delivered to the devastated area,” she said.  Paulina shared an insight: “It was important to see, feel, and experience what the community experiences to understand their issues better.”

Immigrant

Paulina’s husband Ben arrived in Canada in 1992, and she joined him in 1993 with her 11-month-old daughter.  They now have three children.

In Canada, Paulina immersed herself in education to upgrade her skills and to be competitive in the market.  While working for the Canadian Cancer Society (Ontario Division), she took a certificate course at the Centre of Philanthropy, Ryerson University on nonprofit sector management, enabling her to provide information to nonprofit organizations and charities about nonprofit management issues.

Business Analyst Certified Professional and Change Management Certified Professional

She also took two more certificates–Business Analyst Certified Professional and Change Management Certified Professional.  Toward the end, Paulina became a business analyst: in her own words, “gathering requirements from project participants, understanding their needs and priorities, identifying gaps, scoping the project needs and requirements, providing options and recommendations based on resources, testing, rolling out the project and providing support to the users.”

After leaving CCS, Paulina went back to working with the community, “to the business of actually helping people, face-to-face community service, with the Kababayan Multicultural Service, a settlement agency.”  She also worked with several community organizations and co-founded Philippine Advocacy through Arts and Culture (PATAC–now Philippine Advancement through Arts and Culture).  In 2007 Paulina’s involvement with two landmark caregiver cases–those of Jocelyn Dulnuan and Juana Tejada pushed her to advocate for caregivers and newcomers.

Among her other activities, Paulina is involved with the Filipino Workers Network as a community organizer, and with the Filipino Canadian Parents Association in Catholic Education (FCPACE), where she led the move to have June declared as Filipino Heritage Month in the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB).

With the Toronto Community Benefits Network, Paulina organized Filipino worker information sessions on job opportunities in trades and construction, particularly with the Eglinton Crosslinx project.

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TAGS: councillor of Toronto's Scarborough Southwest riding, Filipino Canadian candidate, Paulina Balisi Corpuz, Toronto City Council, Toronto Election day, Toronto local politics, Toronto’s advance polls
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