Mel Tobias, who was adored and esteemed in and outside the Filipino Canadian community for his joyous celebration of life, has died.
Tobias was known to host friends and new acquaintances in warm gatherings animated by lively discussions about music, theatre, film, and books.
He was a friend and mentor to many, who remember him for his kind heart.
Tobias moved to Vancouver in 1993, bringing with him a rich experience in communications and the arts from Manila and Hong Kong.
While based in the then-British colony, he managed the public relations campaign of the biggest brewing company in the Philippines, hosted a radio show with BBC, and wrote for The Standard.
He had covered the Cannes Film Festival, and contributed to international publications like Variety magazine and the Hollywood Reporter.
Tobias was also keen on elevating the standing of Filipino Canadians in their adopted country through his work in community publications in Vancouver.
Tobias wrote for and edited the Dahong Pilipino business directory and Living Today magazine, where he always sought to highlight the positive contributions of what he described as “global Filipino Canadians”.
“These are Filipino Canadians who are willing to absorb new cultures and ideas,” Tobias once wrote. “They can easily integrate, assimilate and learn constantly about the world today. They are not isolated or trapped by ethnicity.”
In Vancouver, Tobias contributed to the Georgia Straight. He also wrote regular columns for the Manila-based daily Philippine Star, in which he reported and reflected about life in Vancouver.
Tobias co-founded and served as artistic director of the Filipino Canadian community-based Anyone Can Act Threatre (ACAT).
In 2012, ACAT staged at the Gateway Theatre in Richmond a reading of A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino, considered to be most important Filipino play in English.
Tobias was also an ardent fan of Vancouver artists such as pianists Dorothy Uytengsu and Victoria Francisco, and jazz singer Armi Grano.
In 2015, Tobias helped organize an event to honour retired psychiatrist Miguel Tecson and wife Julia for donating the single biggest collection of Philippine artifacts to the UBC Museum of Anthropology.
Last year, Tobias’ ACT supported the launch of Stumbling Through Paradise: A Feast of Mercy for Manuel del Mundo, a novel by Vancouver author Eleanor Guerrero-Campbell and considered to be a first in the Filipino Canadian community.
Tobias granted what is known as his last interview in November 2016 with Canadian Filipino Net, telling the online publication about how blessed he feels about living his senior life in Vancouver.
According to Tobias, “When you’re young, you pursue your lofty goals because you want to prove something either for yourself or for someone. When you grow old, it’s no longer about making money or garnering accolades. It’s about finding your inner peace.”