Loida Lumanlan - Paglalayag Series
Part of the Paglalayag: the Philippines to Canada Journey series.
*Reprinted from "The Secret to Success: A Passion to Serve", Filipinos' Success' Stories: Kaya Ko, Kaya Mo!. Written by Marjorie Carmona Newman, Alberta Filipino Journal, July 2017, with some updates.
Ms. Loida Lumanlan came to Edmonton, Canada on October 1987. She arrived as an immigrant, reuniting with her family who came ahead two years before.
Like most immigrants in the early years, Ms. Lumanlan's beginning was challenging in many ways. To start her career, she took a job as a chambermaid, cleaning up to 15 rooms a day. She says it was "nothing like a Jennifer Lopez move", but hard work on the back and hands were made easier by a few dollars' worth of tips. She moved on applying for a waitressing job, but was instead hired as a kitchen preparation staff, washing and chopping potatoes and vegetables the whole day long. She recalls fondly a moment when she was promoted into bakery, where her first try at baking cheesecakes ended with burning nine of the cheesecakes.
She remembers not raising enough money to pay for rent on time and asked an advance from a reluctant kitchen manager. At that moment, she felt the transition to this new life degrading and sad. It was challenging starting out, taking the bus to work in the morning, most days when the sun wasn't out, and returning home past dark. However, she took joy over the little things, like taking her children to Safeway after work, relishing in the smell of apples and fruits, and getting nostalgic over the scent of ham that was usually served during Christmas time.
Still, she persevered. In one of the Safeway visits, she asked the lady giving out samples how she got the job. She made an appointment and applied for the position, bringing in her resume that included her experience in customer service and various sales awards from her experience working as a Tang Promo Girl in Makati, Philippines. This time, she was confident, and during the interview she boldly offered to work for no pay in case that the employers weren't happy with her performance.
This position gave her the jump to the rest of her career. Her work included doing food demos, samples then was subsequently hired as a cashier in IGA. To make ends meet, she kept two or three jobs. Throughout these trying times, she pressed on. She posted a goal in her bedroom on how many hours and dollars she had to make per day, per week, per month. She moved ranks, from cashier, to supervisor, to head cashier, eventually becoming Front End Manager when a new store opened in Sherwood Park until 1999.
She didn't stop there. While working full time, she studied Marketing at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). At that time, her children had also adjusted to the life in Canada and were doing well with their studies. Through her job in IGA, she met a home builder who introduced her to real estate. She worked first as a sales representative, then was recruited by a Re/MAX agent who used to shop at IGA.
And now, Ms. Loida Lumanlan has 20 years as a realtor under her belt and still going.
While Ms. Lumanlan has diverse experience one thing was constant - her work involved dealing with the public. Her passion is in helping people and the intrinsic reward that comes with it. Throughout her life, she had been shaped for this work. Her mother taught her about business from an early age. When she was in elementary school in the Philippines, she sold corn on the cob and banana cue. On the other hand, her father, a well-known man in her barrio, taught her how to have interpersonal skills. These skills, along with her passion in serving the public, are put to good use in her work as a realtor.
Her advice to those who want to be realtors is to prepare for long hours of working alone. On one hand, being a realtor means being your own boss, but on the other hand it also means being self-motivated and committing to a schedule to follow. She adds that one has to be prepared for rejection, even from friends and people they know. The secret to success, however, is to be honest, and look after the best interests of her clients. Additionally, continue to learn and improve. Find a mentor and be surrounded with successful people. Also, learn about different personality types and be able to adapt. And finally, give back to the community. On this note, despite her busy career, she joined the Women Support Group, Catholic Social Services and the WIN House. She is also involved with the Philippine Business Society of Alberta (PBSA), Rotary Club, Kenilworth Community League, Edmonton Philippine International Centre (EPIC), and mentorship program at Re/MAX for new realtors.
What kept Loida afloat throughout the trials is having great friends who had similar situations as she was in. Her struggles thriving in Canada were punctuated by road trips on the weekends, and sharing times of laughter and tears.
Her perspective changed when she opened her network to having friends from different ethnic backgrounds. She recalls the time a Thai friend gave her a few cups of rice when they had nothing to eat, or the time her Canadian friends gave her old clothes, and even when her Chinese friend invited her to their church. She encourages parents to allow their children to mingle with people from various cultures. While it is important to maintain Filipino traditions, such as being respectful to the elderly and being polite, in her experience, children will gain more confidence and assertiveness, helping them to adjust to the Canadian life sooner.
Today, Ms. Loida Lumanlan is a known figure among the Filipinos in Edmonton. She has volunteered and served in various events and organizations. Most importantly, however, is that she is known for her generosity. She shares an advice for prospective and new immigrants who are now going through hardships as she had, and that is to set personal goals to achieve. It is also important to celebrate even small achievements. Be open minded, especially to people of different cultures, and learn to respect their beliefs. In developing their careers, always upgrade and educate themselves. Learn to have confidence and don't settle for less. She expresses that many new immigrants come to Canada holding higher educational backgrounds but settling for any job they can get. She reminds them that there are courses they can take to upgrade their knowledge and get their confidence back. And last but not least, take the time to volunteer; be grateful and helpful to others.
Looking back, Ms. Lumanlan is grateful to have Filipino roots. The hardships she encountered in 1987, and during the early days of her career are now all in the past, and have ultimately shaped her character. She is even more grateful that her children have graduated at the University of Alberta, and two hold masters' degrees from the University of Calgary. As a realtor, she continues to use her skills to serve her clients. Her years of experience in this field have not jaded passion. She enjoys being a part of her clients' home ownership. But the biggest rewards in her success is ultimately in getting home-cooked meals, in hearing different stories, and most importantly, being present and witnessing the struggles and successes of each person she helps.