by Rachelle Cruz, ABS-CBN News
TORONTO — It was a solemn mood as political dignitaries and community members shuffled in from the cold to pay their last respects for the late Senator Tobias Enverga Junior.
The procession followed as members of the royal Canadian-mounted police stood guard.
“We’re going to miss his passion and his sense of public service, our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and family,” said Andrew Scheer, leader of the conservative party.
In 2012, Enverga was appointed by then prime minister Stephen Harper as the first Filipino senator in Canada. He became known in the Toronto region for launching the Philippine-Canadian Charitable Foundation that spearheads Pinoy Fiesta.
Enverga was a fixture at Filipino community events across the country.
The memorial’s homily recalled how the senator championed aid efforts when the Philippines was hit by typhoons.
The late senator was a staunch critic of the liberal government’s changes to the live-in caregiver program and the increase in their permanent residency application wait times.
“I admire this man for the causes that he stood for,” said Julius Tiangson, a caregiver advocate. “This is a big loss, a big loss for our community here in Toronto.”
Filipinos from across the country took to social media to offer condolences as the news broke out.
Renowned Filipino artist Romi Maninquil even produced a painting in tribute to Enverga.
The late senator’s special assistant, Eric Parungao, was with
Enverga until the end, camera in hand, preserving his last memory.
While Enverga may have passed, for many Filipino Canadians, his legacy of service will continue to live on with the community.
“I know if senator Tobias Enverga is still alive, he can still make our community a better one,” said Charito Macaraeg. “And he was one of my best community leader.”
“It’s just amazing to see the numbers of people he affected. But more importantly, the commitment that he made to his community,” said Senator Larry W. Smith, Conservative party of Canada.
Senator Enverga leaves his wife, Rosemer, and three daughters.
He would have been 62-years-old this Saturday.