Going the distance:
not your typical marathoner’s story
by Ethel Clemente-Fernandez
Jairuz Agang Ang, EIT
Jairuz Agang-Ang, lived a simple life in La Union province. He was the only son in a brood of four. He grew up in a farming community where a frequent hike to the mountains with his friends would yield fruits and wild birds caught from traps set up in the forest.
At an early age, his elders would always remind them to study hard and get good grades to achieve their dreams and get a better life.
His strength in math and science led him to pursue engineering, though he also dreamt of becoming a pilot. He completed his engineering degree in only four and half years by taking advance courses in the summer.
He started his career as a manufacturing technician at Intel for two and a half years. Before moving to Canada, he held the position of a senior product engineer at Microchip Technology. Even though he was very comfortable with his job and enjoyed a work-life balance, he didn’t pass up on an opportunity to emigrate as a Federal Skilled Worker under the Electrical Engineer occupation in 2014.
In May 2016, he and his wife arrived in Calgary, but after living there for two months, the frequent news of lay-offs and the declining economic conditions in Alberta at the time prompted them to move to Winnipeg.
Being a newcomer, just starting to re-establish roots, moving to another province poses a different level of risks and challenges. He and his wife had nothing to begin with; no job, no car, no house. They had to take any survival jobs to help sustain their living.
Despite the challenges, he considered the move a blessing as he found out about the Filipino Members Chapter (FMC) of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba. It gave him hope of getting back to an engineering career sooner.
In their third month in Winnipeg, they met the couple Mar and Vangie Mance. Mar, a member of FMC, shared his experience about the IEEQ program and other options to be academically qualified and register with Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba (EngGeoMb). Through him, Jairuz met Ray Sator, also in the electrical engineering field, during the FMC presentation on Engineering Credential Recognition Process Orientation in that same month. With the information acquired through that event, he began to process the application with EngGeoMb.
Soon as he received his assessment result, he registered to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, as this was the most time-efficient and least costly option.
Between January to May 2017, while he was reviewing for the exam, he worked two part-time jobs for 40-54 hours a week, took an evening class (English for Academic Writing 1) at the University of Winnipeg and applied for the IEEQ program as a back-up plan, which included taking up the IELTS academic exam as part of the program requirement.
A week before the FE exam, he received the good news of being one of the successful applicants to be admitted to the IEEQ program.
He initially thought of ditching the FE exam in favour of accepting the spot in the IEEQ program. However, with five months of preparation, the cost of exam registration and the purchase of review materials, he though he might as well take the exam and do his best.
And his best was good enough to pass the FE exam.
He got his EIT designation in a record 10 months after arriving in Winnipeg as an immigrant and hopes to get his professional engineer (P.Eng.) designation in 4-6 years.
With this achievement, he shares, “I always remind myself about this famous Filipino quote: “Pag gusto may paraan, pag ayaw maraming dahilan.” which translates to, “If there’s a will, there’s a way, if there’s no will, there are many excuses.” It was never easy to get an EIT and I could have had tons of excuses not to pursue that goal. Setting your priorities, managing your time well, and keeping yourself motivated to reach that goal should keep yourselves on track instead of whining about how difficult life is. Spend some time to evaluate your past success when faced with similar challenges and you’ll find motivation to work on your current goal.
“I have my sincerest gratitude for Mar Mance and Ray Sator, for their guidance and tips, and Maurice Petallo and Edwin Madera for sharing their FE exam success stories.
The information from FMC through shared experiences of members made it easier for me to decide which path to take with the academic qualification for EIT. I hope that sharing my story will help to encourage our kababayans to pursue their passion for engineering in Canada, despite the challenges and difficulties they face.”
Oh, and did I mention that Jairuz is also a long distance runner? Yes, on top of all that rigorous preparation for the exam, attending classes and juggling two part-time jobs, he also trained for the Manitoba Marathon, not the half-marathon, but the full 42km race!
Jairuz is not new to marathons, in fact, he has participated in various long distance races, the scale and number of which is more than enough to write a full article.
Some of the more notable races he participated in the Philippines, include, the 2010 Bullrunner Dream Marathon, in which he placed third out of 251 participants, the 2016 Mariveles to Bagac 50k Ultra Marathon Race, finishing fourth out of 39 finishers and the notorious 2016 Bataan Death March 102k Ultra Marathon Race, where his time of 12 hours, 48 minutes and 11 seconds placed him ninth out of 170 finishers!
Even in his short stay in Calgary, he managed to run as a pace bunny to the 2016 Calgary Marathon.
His passion for running started back in 2009 when he was invited by a colleague, who, unbeknownst to him, is actually the founder/owner of Takbo.ph – a popular website for runners in the Philippines, to run around Madrigal Business Park in Alabang as a stress reliever. He ran his first race, a 10k, that same year and then kept running and running farther, while his network of friends in the running community got bigger and bigger. It is also through running that he eventually met his wife.
Indeed, going the distance literally and metaphorically, leads you to life’s unexpected pleasant surprises.
Ethel Clemente-Fernandez is a professional engineer registered in the province of Manitoba. She is an active member of the Filipino Members Chapter - Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba (FMC-APEGM). www.fmc-egm.ca.