Filipino community members show support for Belgica family

Surrey, B.C.

Celebration of Life for son of community leader held

By Charmaine Y. Rodriguez

From the search for a missing teen until the ceremony remembering his brief life, the Filipino community in British Columbia was there for the Belgica family with an outpouring of support and comfort.  

Cliff Belgica, a leader of the United Filipino Community Associations in B.C., said his family is grateful for the help everyone has extended all throughout their difficult experience.

“Those who have helped and come when we called to bring Ethan home, everyone in the community, we are more than amazed at all the help that you have given us and to continue to give us,” he said during the “Celebration of Life” for his son, Ethan, at the Hope Community Church in Surrey, B.C.

The venue was filled with mourners who were part of Ethan’s life and those who wanted to show their support for the Belgica family, according to an TFC News report.

Ethan, 18, was reported missing on October 22.

On Nov. 10, the Belgica family posted on their Facebook page that on Nov. 4, a witness found a body that washed ashore in West Vancouver and five days later, they got confirmation from the Coroner that pieces of evidence proved that the body belonged to Ethan. 

Cliff thanked everyone for all the help and support.

“Those who have helped and (have) come when we called to bring Ethan home…everyone in the community, we are more than amazed at all the help that you have given us and to continue to give us,” he said in a message during the event.

Cliff added that they regret that they did not see the signs that Ethan was struggling with mental health issues and needed help.

“As parents, we have missed a lot of the signs that somehow he was hurting and we didn’t know. And Ethan, we’re sorry for that because we could not see it earlier, we could have helped you,” he also said.

In a Facebook post, the family revealed that authorities alluded to 28 jumpers at the Lions Gate Bridge, of which seven were confirmed. But only one of them has surfaced and that was Ethan.

Cliff used to bring Ethan with him to many community events when he was younger so a lot of the members of the Filipino community know the teen as well.

Among those who attended the Celebration of Life was Filipino-Canadian Parliament member Mable Elmore.

“I just want to say thank you to the community for your support, for your love, volunteering, walking the streets, looking for Ethan, holding out that hope, and when I learned the sad news, my heart is broken, all our hearts were broken,” Elmore said. 

Elmore urged those who need help not to hesitate to reach out to anyone in the community.

“This is something that I will remember and deep in my heart, remembering Ethan as we go forward, to reach out to connect with everyone in our community who needs help and support,” she added and became emotional during her message. 

Burnaby councilor Maita Santiago, who is also Filipino-Canadian, attended the event as well.

“We recognize that this is very tragic and we hope that they find comfort in this real outpouring of support from our community to them,” Santiago said.

Other community leaders, like Lina Vargas and Ramon Bandong, lauded the community for helping a kababayan.

“I hope we will continue this kind of gatherings for all of us as a significance of who we are as a community. Napakagandang pagmasdan (It’s beautiful to behold),” Vargas said of the community’s spirit of unity.

“When a family is suffering, we come together as a Bayanihan, to be there for each other and to raise each other through these tough times,” said of the show of community spirit.


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