by Vanessa Merjudio, ABS-CBN News
OTTAWA — This was the last interview BA had with Canadian Senator Tobias Enverga Jr., just two weeks before his sudden passing on November 16.
Early this month, Enverga questioned the longer processing times for permanent residency applications for Canada’s caregivers.
With the multi-year immigration levels the liberal government recently rolled out, Enverga pointed out that while other immigration categories will increase or maintain its numbers, the caregivers’ category will decrease over the duration of the plan.
“I believe that people have adapted to the fact that there’s a Filipino-Canadian senator out there. I believe that they’ve realized what my office can do. Basically, my office is a mini-immigration centre where everybody asks about their immigration problems and status, which I don’t really mind. I like doing this for my kababayans.”
Up to now, many are in disbelief that the first and only Filipino-Canadian senator is gone, after suffering a fatal heart attack while on a parliamentary trip in Colombia.
“I was actually in a lot of shock. I was in Montreal at a conference and everybody was texting left and right that he passed away, and wanted to know if it was true or not,” said Betty Seangio-Obas.
He was known to be a man of faith, the voice of Filipinos in parliament hill and an advocate for people with disabilities.
Although Enverga hails from Quezon province, he spent the majority of his life in the greater Toronto area. He spearheaded many charitable projects and was founder of the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation.
“I really did not plan for Canadian politics. When you have a cause, when you think there’s something wrong with what’s happening with the government, I decided to get involved,” Enverga has said.
Since coming into office five years ago, Enverga has showcased the Filipino culture to Canada, with some efforts evolving into traditions in the country.
“On June 12, there was his unfurling of the Philippine flag in the parliament. He would always be there,” said Petronila Garcia, PH ambassador to Canada. “There’s a sense of emptiness that we feel with him gone.”
Enverga is also a Diamond Jubilee medal recipient, an honor given to canadians with significant contributions and achievements.
He has said, “I hope Filipinos will grab the bull by the horns. Promote yourself. Make sure that you become the leader. That’s what I hope Filipinos will do, because there’s so much things that we can offer Canada and even the world.”
Many hope that Enverga’s legacy will continue to open more doors for Filipinos in Canada.