Stumbling Through Paradise
Eleanor Guerrero-Campbell’s book about the Filipino Canadian immigrant experience
Eleanor Guerrero-Campbell’s book, Stumbling Through Paradise, is an intergenerational novel about the Filipino Canadian experience. It is a story about an immigrant’s determination and hope.
“I hope that anyone reading this book might step into the shoes of a newcomer – an immigrant, a refugee – and empathize with their struggles, feel compassion for them, and care about them, rather than discriminating against them or resenting them. I hope reading the book will help them understand Filipinos better, too.” Vancouver-based author Guerrero-Campbell conveyed to Pilipino Express via phone interview.
The novel, Stumbling Through Paradise: A Feast of Mercy for Manuel del Mundo, follows the immigrant journey of the Del Mundos (a fictional Filipino family), as they try to build a new life in Canada. The setting is Metro Vancouver rampant with race related tensions such as the “English only” signs in Richmond, “monster houses” in Surrey, and the racial killing of a Filipino youth in Vancouver. It is a three-part novel built around the three generations of the Del Mundos; it ends with a second generation Del Mundo aspiring for political office, challenging the multicultural mosaic of Canada as being inadequate and proposing a new way. Guerrero-Campbell weaves into the novel’s narrative, the problems, issues and solutions to the underemployment of skilled immigrants through the lives of three generations of Del Mundos.
“It’s a novel focused on Filipino immigrants in a positive and balanced manner,” said Aprodicio and Eleanor Laquian, authors of Seeking a Better Life Abroad: A Study of Filipinos in Canada.
Guerrero-Campbell worked with skilled newcomers as founding Executive Director of an immigrant service organization in Vancouver. That’s where she met highly accomplished professionals from the Philippines, China and India who were distraught over the loss of status, income, confidence, and respect. Many were frustrated about failing to secure jobs in their field, when they had been admitted to Canada precisely for their skills.
“My wish is that newcomer immigrants would read my book and realize that they can plan to practise their professions here. They don’t have to despair or give up and settle for just anything and waste their hard earned experience and skills. They don’t have to give up on their paradise,” said Guerrero-Campbell.
Guerrero-Campbell saw the positive impact of programs like mentoring and educating newcomers about credential recognition and the job search process in Canada. She also saw the other side – the concerns of professional regulatory bodies and employers.
“I hope that employers, policymakers, immigrant service providers and professional regulatory bodies would read this book and realize how deep is the impact of severe underemployment on a skilled immigrant, affecting his personal life and family life for a long time to come, as is shown in my book. And perhaps these enablers could try to improve policies, programs and employment for skilled immigrants.”
The book will be launched on May 21, 2016 at the Creekside Community Centre, Olympic Village, in Vancouver. A preview of the book can be seen on the publisher's website: www.friesenpress.com
(With notes from Theresa Dela Fuente and Eleanor Guerrero-Campbell)