SF Pinoys raise over $8K to repatriate community hero’s remains

By Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Sept. 9, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO – Pio Candelaria died as a hero of the Filipino American community in the South of Market District in San Francisco.

He was considered a quiet, private man. But while reserved in nature, his work in the community spoke volumes among kababayans.

He was an actor, artist, cultural activist, master chef, and friend of the people.

His legacy in San Francisco includes co-founding the annual Parol Festival and the yearly Filipino Arts and Cinema International Film Festival.

He traveled to the United States in the mid-1990s where he tried making a better life for himself.

On Aug. 17, Candelaria died of a heart attack. He was 54 years old.

In spite of his contributions to the community, died as an undocumented immigrant.

With no family members in the U.S., the community came together to take care of their hero.

The community raised about $8,000 to send his body to his home town of Catanduanes.

Funeral services were held in St. Patrick’s Church in San Francisco prior to Candelaria’s journey home.

Friends gathered to remember and celebrate his life.

“Pio is that unsung hero of everyday immigrants who is striving to have a better life in America,” said Angelica Cabande. “He had many challenges just like all of us trying to survive here. We are all trying to have an American dream but sometimes that doesn’t happen.”

Candelaria’s passing also sparked a united interest to continue the push for immigration reform so other undocumented kababayans like Pio will no longer struggle in the United States.

“I think as a Filipino, as a community, we should really be touching immigration the issue on behalf of our Filipino communities,” said Anita Cruz who was a friend of Candelaria of 20 years.

“The best thing we should do is to bond together and we become strong when we are bonded,” said Aida Carmona who knew Candelaria from the Philippine Educational Theater Association. “We have to learn how to go about all these issues that impede somebody’s desire to become a citizen.”

As they say their farewells to their beloved friend, they say they will remember him by continuing to spread his message.

“Always continue helping one another and make sure we are not isolated regardless of who we are, our immigration status, our background, artists, or whatever background you have, we help each other as a community, which is what Pio did and what he stood for,” said Cabande.

You can contact Rommel Conclara at rommel_conclara@abs-cbn.com and follow him on Twitter @rommelconclara for more information.

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  • noz
    9 September 2014 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    we all gonna die one day, no matter who you are. i just don’t like the idea of these illegal aliens mindless talks – the push for immigration reform so other kababayans like Pio will no longer struggles in the U.S. what a ludicrous blab. principled american citizens and legal aliens on all walks of life are struggling every single day, economically and socially up to the time they reach their death bed. there are 30 million illegal aliens, the likelihood of dying in that segment of society’s group, i am sure is or are happening all the time, so what does immigration reform got to do with dying in america as illegal aliens?. the illogical statements of illegal aliens of becoming legal aliens, the struggle will stop is like wanting to live off on other people’s hard earned incomes, handed out by socialist demonicraps, their trick to stay in power. nobody are restraining illegal aliens to remain in the USA. the president failed to deport illegal aliens, gets away for not doing his job to deport illegal aliens as POTUS. illegal aliens voluntarily breach their temporary visas, a privilege given to them in good faith. chose to live as illegal aliens, then cry wolf to push their self interest – to legalize their illegalities are bad for the country.