The man behind 'Dahong Pilipino' in Canada

by Rowena Papasin, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Aug 03 2012 10:27 AM | Updated as of Aug 03 2012 06:27 PM

VANCOUVER - Leonardo “Ding” Cunanan is a man of firsts. He is the publisher of the first Filipino community newspaper in Vancouver, The Philippine Chronicle and also founded the first and only directory of Filipino businesses in the area Dahong Pilipino.

But he was just a one-man news team then so he decided to sell the paper after a year to focus more on Dahong Pilipino.

“It was becoming too difficult for me. I was doing everything and I don't want that to affect my work,” Cunanan said.

Cunanan considers Dahong Pilipino as his greatest legacy. Now on its second decade, Dahong Pilipino honors top Filipino Canadians from various fields yearly. It has also become a helpful guide to new immigrants to Canada.

“I hope Dahong Pilipino continues to be published because since I started it, it has become an institution,” he said.

Cunanan has received various awards including one from former president Cory Aquino.

Despite his humble beginnings selling ice drops and pandesal in San Pablo, Laguna, Cunanan rose to become an immigration and refugee judge in Canada--a job which has given him much fulfillment.

“Everyday, you know when you leave home you will make a decision on the life of a person who is applying for protection in Canada because of being persecuted in their own country,” he said.

Cunanan and his wife Marilyn are now both retired but remain active in the community helping out single parents in their church.