Venturing North

Born in 1950 in the Philippines, Socorro Alfonso travelled halfway around the world to live in the Yukon.

Socorro was born on the tiny tropical island of Bacacay Albay southeast of Manila. Her mother named her for the Spanish word meaning “help” and throughout her life she has been a caring helper for people of all ages.

Her parents lived by fishing, harvesting fruits and vegetables, and weaving hats and other goods for sale. Their small home of grass and palm leaves were open to warm Pacific breezes and the ocean – a happy playground for children.

Wanting education for their children, her parents moved to Pampanga. Socorro attended elementary school, studying in Tagalog, with some English lessons. Work was scarce and life was hard with nine children. At 12 years old Socorro went to live with cousins in Manila, worked all day as domestic help to earn tuition for high school in the evenings. Fours years later, her mother died so she went home to help her ailing father.

Socorro returned to Manila, working for low wages in government, constantly moving between relatives’ homes. She joined Our Mother of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church, a source of comfort and inspiration. After 10 years she seized the opportunity to do domestic work in Singapore.

Leaving home, Socorro searched for a better life. The Yukon beckoned in 1986. Socorro, nicknamed Cory in Canada, worked as a nanny for several Whitehorse families. She was undaunted by cold winters and loved her new home, studied English, made new friends and helped other Filipino immigrants. She worked in a restaurant for a few years, then at Macaulay Lodge caring for the elderly until retirement in 2014.

Children are her great joy. She adopted a young girl in the Philippines and sent money to ensure her education. After a lifetime of hard work Socorro remains true to her name — always generous in caring for others.

“I have a good life here, and in the Philippines, it’s really hard,” she says.

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