The late Senator plays the traditional Filipino game of ‘sungka’ with a Filipina senior. (Facebook)
Senator Tobias Enverga, Jr. was laid to rest on November 29 at St. Michael’s Basilica in Toronto. He died on November 16.
Enverga’s less known advocacies
By Mila Astorga-Garcia
Long before the late Tobias Enverga, Jr. was appointed Senator for Ontario by the former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he was already well known as an active volunteer and leader in the Filipino-Canadian community.
His most high profile role was that of president of the Philippine Independence Day Council (PIDC) that spearheads Mabuhay Festival, the celebration related to June 12 which is the Philippine Independence day.
What is not much known of his community involvement was that he was one of the board members of the Community Alliance for Social Justice (CASJ), a broad alliance of individuals and groups that emerged out of the campaign for justice in the shooting death of a Filipino teenager, Jeffrey Reodica, by a Toronto police officer Dan Belanger in 2004.
Enverga displayed solidarity with Filipinos fighting for justice not only for Jeffrey but for caregivers Jocelyn Dulnuan, who was found murdered in her employer’s home in Mississauga; and Juana Tejada, who, before she died of cancer, campaigned successfully with the community for the right to become landed with her family after serving the required years of service and passing medical examinations just once, not twice. The latter campaign led to the creation of the Juana Tejada Law. Enverga was proud of his advocacy work for justice, and he once said he was also an activist and a member of the nationalist youth group Kabataang Makabayan (KM) while still a student at Letran College. He believed that the best way to help people was through charity work, hence his involvement in fund-raising for typhoon victims in the Philippines and organizing medical missions to rural areas in Quezon, his home province. Thus he, with his wife Rosemer Enverga, founded the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation (PCCF).
He made a lot of friends with social justice advocates, even those who did not share his political position on certain issues. He respected the diversity of people’s views on caregiver and immigration issues. He would often ask in jest activist friends, “what have I done wrong this time?” recognizing the many criticisms against immigration policies of the Conservative government.
Arrogance was not one of his traits. He was humble enough to say he still had to study well certain issues before he could be interviewed for an article.
Enverga, the good natured person that he was, welcomed different opinions, but always remained loyal to his political party’s position on issues.