Tatay Tom: groovy at 88

Tatay Tom: groovy at 88

by Robbie Pangilinan

Vancouver - The Filipino-Canadian community’s well-loved figure Tatay Tom has just recovered from pneumonia after his Toronto trip last month. He is now eating and getting stronger.

“I think it was airborne. Or maybe I got this from somebody I met in Toronto,” said the 88-year-old founder, President and CEO of the Multicultural Helping House Society (MHHS), a group that has been assisting immigrants since 1996.

Tatay Tom With newly elected, the fourth NPA member of council, Hector D. Bremner and wife Virginia Austria Bremner at Multicultural Helping House. (Photo by Angelo Siglos)

The MHHS, formerly Filipino-Canadian Support Services Society (FCSSS), has already helped more than 200,000 Filipinos with its respite housing, training and counselling facilities, settlement and employment services, and special programs for youth, senior citizens and families.

Consulate General Neil Ferrer with Tatay Tom

I am an avid fan of Tatay Tom, not only of his advocacy, but also of his personality. He is still sharp, identifying a person’s background and history just like a walking Google guy. I met Tatay Tom in 2012, and since then he has become my father in Canada. I worked with his son in Manila before. Tatay Tom is an honorary member of ETONLINE Metropolitan as I sought his permission before establishing this digital online company.

He is not entertaining guests at the moment but Tatay Tom indulged me with this intimate interview. With his mask on, he thanked me for my continuous support to MHHS here and in the Philippines. His family is requesting for continuous prayers for him.

Tatay Tom is the recipient of many awards and citations, including the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee medal (2002) for his contribution to supporting new immigrants to Canada; the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012), where he was the only Filipino-Canadian among 60 recipients recognized for their significant contribution to a particular province, territory, region or community in Canada; the Banaag Palanca Award (2012) given to him by President Benigno Aquino III; and the Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism (2014) in recognition of his lifetime of achievement in building an inclusive, welcoming community for those starting a new life in Canada. REPORTS FROM TOM CHOY 

*Photo by Angelo Siglos