PNOy Aquino: Vancouverites pay tribute

Updated: July 29, 2021, 12:50 P.M.

Updated: July 27, 2021, 6:45 A.M.

Updated: July 22, 2021, 8:22 A.M.

Vancouver, B.C.

“…empowering women with the  passage  of the Reproductive Health Law in 2012.”

Contributed by

Charmaine  Janis Rodriguez

VANCOUVER—A memorial tribute to remember the life, accomplishments and legacy of Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III was held at the Vancouver Art Gallery grounds last July 11, 2021. 


Attendees pose at the footsteps of the Vancouver Art Gallery. (Photo provided)

Organized by the Global Pinoy Diaspora Canada and co-hosted by the Filipino Music and Arts Foundation , the two-hour ceremony was attended by distinguished speakers, musicians and artists who shared messages, songs and their art to remember the Philippines’ 15th president, who is fondly called PNoy.

“What is fitting is his name PNoy because he is the quintessential, humble, intelligent, resilient, courageous leader and courageous Pinoy who, I think, deserves a commemoration like what we’re doing today,” said Professor Leonora Angeles, President National Pilipino Canadian Cultural Centre and the event’s distinguished speaker.

The outpouring of praises for President Aquino not only included his personal attributes and leadership style but also on his accomplishments that caught the attention of the international community.

Mable Elmore, Member of Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, in a message read by Mel Abonita, President of the Bicol Association of BC, said PNoy was a son of icons of democracy referring to former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and former president Corazon C. Aquino. 

“PNoy was the latest embodiment of that,” she added.

She highlighted how PNoy turned the Philippines into one of the fastest growing economies in the world, fought corruption and led a fight to defend its territorial sovereignty. 

She referred to one of PNoy’s greatest legacies of standing up to China as David stood against Goliath in fighting for the West Philippine Sea where the Philippines won in the arbitral ruling at the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)  at the Hague on July 12, 2016  

“That was five years ago but the Filipino people will not stop fighting for what is legitimately ours,” said event organizer Treenee Lopez of the Global Pinoy Diaspora Canada.

Amado Mercado III of the Ateneo Alumni Association, who PNoy was a member of and whom he called as “Ateneo’s pride”, said the economic gains of the Aquino presidency incidentally only made the Philippines second to China in 2013 in terms of economic standing.

The steady economic rise for six years, growth of the Gross Domestic Product and decrease of the inflation rate were among the greatest legacies of PNoy, he added.

These efforts were paralleled with his courage to fight against corruption by having ex-president Gloria Arroyo and Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada arrested and detained on corruption charges, added Jose Lim, adviser of Global Pinoy Diaspora Canada, in his message.

Chris Sorio, Migrante BC Secretary General and a political prisoner during Martial Law, lauded PNoy for signing the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 

  “The law is meaningful – beyond the monetary compensation…it is a product of a decade-long struggle of the victims, a testimony of the struggle in society, and the people’s historic task to end the prevailing culture of impunity,” he said in his speech.  

For Buena Kilala Chua, former President of the Batangas Club of BC, one of PNoy’s greatest contribution is empowering women with the  passage  of the Reproductive Health Law in 2012. It allowed Filipino women to take control of their bodies, their  health, fertility and family. 

Lenore RS Lim, Founder/President Filipino Music and Arts Foundation BC, emphasized PNoy’s role in “supporting, funding and facilitating numerous projects” that promoted Philippine culture including the putting up or improving museums, restoring heritage structures and ensuring museums are free for all Filipinos to enjoy through appropriate funding. 

“He knew how much culture means to a society. This is the soul of our nation,” she added. 

On his personal attributes, Anicia Jalac Miles of Marinduque Association and Royal Sister City  recalled PNoy’s last visit to Vancouver and how everyone perceived him as a man of humility and a servant leader who still managed to smile to everyone  and crack a joke despite his apparent exhaustion. 

Erie Maestro, coordinator of ISambayan Canada Chapter, urged everyone to look at what kind of leader should be elected in the next Philippine elections.

“On May 2022, we are offered a chance to do that,” she added and encouraged for the registration of voters in Canada. 

Aside from the meaningful messages, song numbers from Goldie of Retrospect and Mayo Landicho highlighted the afternoon’s event and brought warmth to the audience with their heartfelt versions of “Iisang Lahi” and “Balita.” 

Datu Shishir Inocalla and Jesse Inocalla of Arnis BC and their team also demonstrated Arnis moves both using sticks and hands. Arnis is a form of martial arts and combat developed by Indigenous Filipinos.

About Charmaine Rodriguez 

Charmaine Janis Rodriguez Charmaine Rodriguez has a 20-year experience in the field of communications-ranging from journalism, news content management to corporate communications. She was a journalist for 11 years, covering different news beats as a reporter in the Philippines before she served as the publication’s news editor. She has contributed articles to various publications, including the Philippine Journalism Review and Islands Magazine, among others. (Provided)

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