By Tom Choy
Vancouver, British Columbia

“It’s not the years in your life but the life in your years that counts.”   ADLAI STEVENSON

Mel Tobias, the consummate culture and arts connoisseur and patron, breathes, lives and personifies the Vancouver’s Filipino-Canadian  arts and cultural life. He was a perennial participant in the Cannes Film Festival and wrote for international publications like Variety and the Philippine Star in Manila.

Mei is no longer with us and now on” the other side.” The arts and cultural people he left behind are shocked and saddened by his recent passing.

“Mel will be missed,” quips Alvin Erasga Tolentino, a premier dancer and choreographer who has performed dance shows at the Scotia Centre in Downtown Vancouver. Alvin continues, “One who had covered writing our Filipino Vancouver community and arts for sometime, with gratitude, Kuya Mel,  is gone.”

Tobias has also covered the Dimasalang artists group, a collective of high energy Fil-Canadian  painters and artists based in Vancouver. He wrote a regular column in the Philippine Star, a Manila newspaper, and focused on the arts and lifestyle stories of his kababayans in Lotusland.

When you want to come across Mel, you watch some movies at the Vancouver International Film Festival in October. He won’t be available to see you next year as he has already  rejoined  his Creator.

Kuya or Tito Mel to a lot of Fil-Canadians in Vancouver, he also enjoys piano music and consistently promotes concerts of top Vancouver pianists Dorothy Uytengsu and Vicky Francisco. His appetite for arts and music has no measure. Mel consumes them voraciously. He promotes them as if he was a Medici igniting a renaissance of the arts in Vancouver.

Bert Monterona , a renowned painter and artist, is saddened at the demise of Mel Tobias, Vancouver’s arts champion.

Mel had too many music CDs and Filipino flicks in his home library, he decided to run a store on West Broadway, Fairview, Vancouver. It is not for the insignificant money to earn, but it was more to share his voluminous music and film library to the public.

Mel has also brought Nick Joaquin’s “The Portrait of the Filipino As An Artist” to Richmond Gateway Theater. From theatre, he also supported young and upcoming authors including award winning author Miguel Syjuco who wrote “Illustrado.” Eleanor Campbell also got some genuine help from Tobias to market her new book, “Stumbling Upon Paradise..”

Mel wrote a lifestyle column in the Philippine Chronicle and the glossy magazine of the Philippine News Today. Tobias also dabbled in radio in a specialty English Chinese radio station. He brought his colleagues from the Philippine Chronicle. The Fil-Canadian arts and culture society will definitely miss the enthusiasm and creativity of Mel Tobias, the consummate arts aficionado and patron. It will be very difficult to find  another doting Kuya Mel.