Maria Andrea De Luna: From Low Self-Esteem to A Successful Business Woman

Photo credit: Kiko Celis

By Abel Pagaling

(This article was originally posted at


What defines us as individuals?  Is it our perception of who we are?  Or are we defined by the results of our actions and judged by our impact on others?  Many people struggle with this question and go through life not knowing what they are really about.

Photo credit: Kiko Celis
Photo credit: Kiko Celis

Maria is an immigration consultant and currently runs two offices Calgary.  In 2002, she came to Canada with her family and stayed in Montreal for several years where she had an opportunity to work as a legal assistant.  In 2006, Maria and her husband moved to Calgary where she worked in a law firm.  Shortly after, she established her own practice.

But there are individuals who show us that we are defined not so much by our perception of ourselves, but by the impact we have on others.  They overcome their own negative perception of themselves so they can serve others.  One person I recently met who showed me that we can become more than our fears or weaknesses is Maria De Luna.

Maria comes across as a friendly, yet confident person, but it wasn’t always so.  “Growing up, I struggled with low self-esteem,” said Maria.   However, she had one passion that drove her forward.  She wanted to help her fellow Filipinos.  Maria set aside her negative thoughts of herself and focused on what she needed to do to help others.  She took courses on Canadian immigration and acquired all the requirements to be able to provide immigration services in Canada.  She said, “Nakita ko there were so much abuses in the immigration system back in 2007 and 2008, and I wanted to really help.”

I asked Maria what some of the issues were that Filipinos face with respect to the immigration system.  “I see many of our kababayans do not have the proper resources to make the right decisions.  They get information from unqualified sources.  Many get the wrong information and it causes issues in the immigration processing, and sadly, some don’t get approve to stay altogether.  I want to help.  I want provide a better way and maximize their options to stay.”

Photo credit: Kiko Celis
Photo credit: Kiko Celis


I can’t help but admire Maria’s passion for helping others, but I also wanted to know more about her as a person and what inspired her to start her own business. “I wanted to prove to myself that I can do it,” she said.  “When I started I was afraid.  Before, I thought I couldn’t run my own business, but now I’m doing it.  There’s nothing wrong in trying and giving it your best.”

But Maria advised that running your own business is not easy.   I asked her about the challenges she faced.  She replied, “The frustration of not knowing everything.  When you’re employed, you only focus on one thing and that’s your work.  As a business owner, I am responsible for many things, from payroll to taxes, and most importantly, I have to make sure that I deliver for my clients.”



Today, Maria’s two offices in downtown Calgary employ 10 staff, and she’s planning to hire more in the future.  “I love what I’m doing.  This is really a passion for me.   I think of this as my responsibility.  Our new office has more space so we can do more for our kababayans.”

TFCC Founder, Jerry Caingcoy and TFCC Communication Lead, Abel Pagaling with MDL
TFCC Founder, Jerry Caingcoy and TFCC Communication Lead, Abel Pagaling with MDL

As I close my conversation with Maria, I asked her for advice that she could give to Filipinos.  “Always help each other,” she said.  “It’s time now for Canada to see Filipinos as a tight group.  It benefits us individually.”

On business, she said, “It’s ok to be afraid.  It’s a natural response.  But don’t let that stop you from pursuing your passion.  Before, I said to myself that I couldn’t do it, but surprised I’m doing it now!”

Maria also advised to not listen to your fears.  “I was always afraid but this kept me on my toes.  Fear became my fuel to push harder.”  As a result of her mental attitude, Maria has helped many Filipinos with their dreams of living in Canada.  A visit to her Facebook page will show just how grateful many of them are to her.

So what defines us as individuals?  Is it our perception of who we are?  Or is it our impact on others that ultimately show the kind of person we really are?  In my brief conversation with Maria, she has taught me that our perception doesn’t always define who we are.  It’s what we do and our impact on others that matter.  In Maria’s case, it’s not her low self-esteem that defined her, but her life changing work on helping others pursue a better future in Canada.

To know more about MDL Immigration Services, click the link below:



Abel Pagaling is a co-founder of FCM.

He is a manager, an entrepreneur, a writer, a community servant, and a motivational speaker. His passion is personal development and leadership.





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