Gerald Bermundo selects Alderney Landing to meet, a place that holds special memories. “I’m looking at my generation who grew up here and participated in multicultural events, and now watching a later generation doing what we did,” recalls Gerald. The son of Filipino parents, he was a traditional dancer as a youth and later taught others. “They have their own style and ideas and they bring that to the community. It’s great to see traditions living on.”
Gerald’s parents arrived separately in Canada in 1974. “They each just wanted a change, a new way of life and opportunities to build a family,” says Gerald. “It was by chance they met and were able to share the same growing pains and experiences together.” His mother was fluent in English when she arrived and, as a nurse, worked at a nursing home and at Camp Hill Hospital. His father, a chemist, was a lab technician at Dalhousie University.
I am Filipino-Canadian and very proud of it.
“Obviously there was culture shock and cultural differences, but I think their transition here was fairly smooth.” They were active in a small Filipino community that included family members who also immigrated. They often hosted gatherings with Filipino cuisine. Gerald and his brother, now working in a restaurant, attended a Filipino language class. He says, however, his parents ensured they all learned Canadian culture. “The emphasis was more on learning English first and the way of life here.”
He remembers moments of realizing he was different, including “Pioneer Days” at school when everyone wore overalls and he arrived in a colourful traditional Filipino shirt. “I also have a vivid memory of grade one and the teacher asked everyone to do a self-portrait and hung it on the wall. Then I realized looking up I was the only one of a different skin colour.”
Gerald graduated from Dalhousie with a B.A. in sociology and also studied commerce. He did website design at CompuCollege. He has worked at the iconic Sam the Record Man and for twenty years at Symcor, a leading provider of business processing and client communications management services, where he is now a technical support analyst.
Through the company, he fundraises for Pathways to Education, a national organization providing after-school programs for youth. Community-minded Gerald has also volunteered for United Way and has been president of the Filipino Association of Nova Scotia for seven years. “I always saw my parents helping out here and back home, sending money, or helping people come here. That’s where I get my drive.” Gerald recalls his dad urging him to study in the summer to prepare for school. “It didn’t feel like it at the time, but I’m happy my dad pushed me that way. A lot of kids feel that pressure, more so for those who have that different cultural background.”
Gerald hasn’t been to the Philippines but hopes to take his fiancé, Jessica, and baby, Grayson, there. “Growing up I had people guess where I was from — guessing everything but Filipino. I’ve been thought of Hawaiian, Spanish, Chinese. I am Filipino-Canadian and very proud of it.”