Dear Marilyn and Family,
When I opened CFNet today and read the headline – Leonardo “Ding” Cunanan, a pillar of the Filipino community, dies at 85– a feeling of deep loss seized my being. For a moment I refused to believe.
Indeed, our community has lost a pillar of humanity and humility. And I have lost a great friend.
I know Leo’s passing weighs even more heavily on you and your family. That no words would ever be sufficient for times like this to ease the burden of your deep loss.
Even as we acknowledge, my wife Gloria and I join others and convey to you and your family our condolences. We mourn with you, your sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren. We pray with you all.
Even as we grieve, mourn and pray, we hear the reminder from our Christian faith – and the first person we hear from is Leo himself: to rejoice even as we feel the pangs of sorrow. For he has rejoined Our Father – the Giver of Life and the Great Physician – in His Kingdom where no pain nor melancholy is felt, and only peace and bliss prevail. And where we all long to be someday.
Leo’s life with us is a life lived in faith – he was such a kind-hearted and thoughtful individual - a true scholar of caring and thoughtfulness. He had touched the lives of many beyond the circle of your family to the broader circle of our community.
I am part of that broader community. Let me share, if I may, how we came to know each other.
The first time we met was in 1982 in Winnipeg. The Canadian Filipino community had just convened a nationwide conference and begun the renewal of the United Council of Filipino Associations in Canada. Following that renewal – perhaps better aptly referred to as a “resurrection” – he agreed to serve as Secretary-General. The Council held the following year a 15-person workshop, again in Winnipeg, that led to a 5-Year Plan of Action, including a draft of the vastly amended Constitution and structure for the Council. This Plan of Action was adopted and the Amendments to the Constitution were ratified at the National Conference in Toronto in 1984. This paved the way for the offices of regional vice-presidents within the Council‘s structure, a national office in Ottawa staffed by a full-time Executive Director, and the due recognition by the government, so much so that the Council was invited to serve on the 26-Member CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) Program Planning Mission to the Philippines in 1986 following the peaceful People Power Revolution and the subsequent creation of the then new Philippine Development Assistance Program (PDAP).
I mention this brief community account because Leo, with his steadfast wise counsel at the United Council, had tremendously helped its Executive, and had moved its vibrancy and dynamism. We always had productive dialogues and not one instance of unending debate.
That was Leo, unassuming. Calm with clarity of mind in the midst of challenges. Learned and sincere. Strong work ethic. Friendship and fellowship always a priority. Fiercely loyal to the Canadian Filipino community and never allowed our common cultural heritage to take a second place. His words and deeds always reflected love and kindness - all rendered without thinking of returns, except that which flow back to the community, the Filipino community in particular. These are some of his attributes that readily come to mind as I recall earlier and younger years of community fellowship with him.
Readers of this Letter, I am sure, would agree with my recollections of Leo’s attributes. They would not be surprised when I share that Leo would always be one of the two trustworthy sources of advice when, as a Member of Parliament, I needed to know the issues and concerns of our community in Vancouver.
They would not be surprised when I say I was so grateful and proud that Leo accepted the appointment from the Minister of Immigration to serve as an Immigration Judge (a Member of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board) and served in that capacity with distinction for a long period of time – an appointment that truly elevated our community’s standing in the service of the country. A source of pride, indeed, for me.
He is now gone from our earthly midst. Remember him we will always do. And Leo will always be remembered as a great friend who served the community with love and devotion.
Marilyn and family, thank you for sharing him with us.
Leo, we bid adieu as you rightfully reap the rewards of eternal bliss.
Dear Marilyn, Jun and all of Ding's family and loved ones,
In your time of grief, please accept our utmost sympathies for your loss of a dearly beloved. Also, please know that we're thinking of you with love and honouring the memories of Ding with so much respect.
You, all, are in our thoughts and prayers at this very difficult time.
Rest In Peace, Leonardo "Ding" Cunanan. You will be missed... by your friends from the Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregivers Rights (CDWCR).
Again, our deep condolences, Marilyn and family.
I have known Tito Ding many many years back through Mel. He was an inspiration to a lot of Filipino immigrants and our kababayans who came over as caregivers. He will surely be missed in the Filipino community.
Jane & Boris
On Jul 1, 2022, at 4:35 PM
So sorry to hear the sad news. Is there going to be a funeral or celebration of life? I would very much like to attend.
A very lovely article about an inspiring man. It described the humble, kind, and great man that he was. CanadianFilipino.Net and the Fil-Can community have lost a staunch supporter and friend. Leonardo “Ding” Cunanan will be missed.
Dear Marilyn and Leo,
My condolences. So sad to read the news and Leo Jr.'s earlier post on FB about Ding's passing.
May you and your family recover from your grief, although many say the grief never goes away. I will add Ding in my prayers.
Warm wishes to all, Nora
How very sad to hear this news po, Tita E. Sending our thoughts and prayers for the Cunanan family.
I included a section on Tito Ding's obituary in our teaser here https://mailchi.mp/c2c99daf7dc8/cfnet-mental-well-being-should-be-top-of-mind-6095907.