Trail blazer is honoured by province
By Ted Alcuitas
Updated 3 PM, May 13, 2017
“I was overcome with emotion when I received the call from the Lieutenant Governor about my selection,” Dr. Rey Pagtakhan told PhilippineCanadianNews.com by phone from his home in East St.Paul’s,Manitoba.
Pagtakhan was named one of 12 Manitobans to received the Order of Manitoba, the province’s highest honour. The announcement came on May 12, 2017. The recipients will be invested into the Order of Manitoba at a special ceremony to be held at 4 p.m on July 13, 2017 in Rm. 200 in Manitoba Legislative Building.
The first Filipino to be elected a member of Parliament, Dr. Rey Pagtakhan said he was “grateful to Canadians for the oppourtunity to serve in his three careers – medicine, public service and volunteerism.
Pagtakhan, a Liberal, made history by defeating a long-serving member of Parliament in Winnipeg North, David Orlikow, becoming the first and only Filipino to be elected to the House of Commons in 1988.
He served for four terms until his defeat in 2004. He was appointed to the cabinet by Prime Minister Jean Chretien as Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific and Minister of Veterans Affairs. Prime Minister Paul Martin appointed him as Minister of Western Economic Diversification.
A medical doctor by profession, Pagtakhan earned his medical degree from the University of the Philippines which honoured him with a the degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) . In 2010 he was also conferred the the degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa) by the University of Perpetual Help Rizal Jonelta Foundation-School of Medicine.
Like a number of Filipino doctors in the U.S.,he moved to Winnipeg in 1968 from the U.S. after finishing his fellowship at the Washington University Medical Centre. He completed a Master of Science from the University of Manitoba and served as a professor of pediatrics at his alma mater.
A native of Cavite, his first foray into Canadian politics was in 1986 when he was elected a school trustee of the St.Vital School District.
Pagtakhan was actively involved in the Winnipeg community serving as President and adviser of the Philippine Association of Manitoba. He was instrumental in the formation of the Canadian Ethnocultural Council, and as National President of the United Council of Filipino Canadian Associations in Canada.
The 82-year old grandfather of five continues his community involvement in his retirement by contributing a column for the local Filipino paper and volunteering .
As a lifelong politician, we could not resist asking Pagtakhan about his thoughts on the political situation in his homeland, the Philippines:
“To me, the drug problem is a health issue and a great oppourtunity to treat the addiction. I beg to disagree with his (Duterte’s) approach.”