CANADA – A former member of parliament and a community activist are the two Filipinos included in Canada's Top 25 Immigrants list this year.
Dr. Rey Pagtakhan of Winnipeg, Manitoba and Narima Dela Cruz of Surrey, British Columbia, felt honored and grateful during the awarding ceremonies held in Vancouver recently.
“The three or two is certainly a tribute that there are many more of us out there who are able to contribute and offer themselves for service to the community, for service to country because those are the attributes that I think Canadians, at large, would like to look forward from any citizen and certainly from any immigrant to this country,” said Pagtakhan.
“I hope really that this will contribute to giving more inspiration to our fellow Filipinos to give more and be involved and be recognized, not just be rewarded, but at least be able to prove that we are also giving back to our adopted country,” Dela Cruz said.
Pagtakhan is no stranger to the Filipino community in Canada. A doctor by profession, he shifted to politics and made history in 1988 by being the first Filipino to win a seat in parliament. Now retired, Pagtakhan was hesitant to join the Top 25 Immigrants contest, which is a people's choice award, as he thought many have forgotten about him.
“So long as I feel that I have the ability, physical, mental and everything in me that I can help contribute then I think I would continue to do that because it is giving me a rewarding sense of fulfillment,” he said.
Dela Cruz, meantime, is a realtor by profession, but she's also president of the Surrey Philippines Independence Day Society and an active volunteer with other organizations.
She believes in giving back not just to fellow Filipinos, but to Canadian society as a whole.
The two were chosen from a list of 400 nominations, shortlisted to 75 and voted by the public to make it to the top 25.
They hope that with the recognition, more kababayans get inspired and will be part of the top 25 list in the future. -- ABS-CBN Balitang Canada.