Art Viola’s letter to the editor

Community News & Features Apr 16, 2005 at 1:27 pm

I would like to take this opportunity to briefly inform you and all the good people of our homeland of the details of our experiences during our recent homecoming.

First, being awarded the Presidential Award – the PAMANA NG PILIPINO AWARD was an overwhelming honour.  This was literally a dream come true and words fail to fully express my honour and gratitude to have been chosen among so many deserving candidates from all over the world.  I thank the Selection Committee and Her Excellency Madam President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Following the award ceremony and testimonial dinner at the Malacañang palace, there was the kind invitation to attend a luncheon hosted by the Canadian Ambassador, extended by the Honourable Peter Sutherland for all the Filipino-Canadian participants and guests.  It was most gracious of the gentleman. Coincidentally, among numerous distinguished guests was my former university professor Mr. Max V. Soliven, whose acquaintance I was delighted to renew.  That same day, our former Consul General and present Assistant Secretary, Office of ASEAN Affairs,  the Honourable Susan O. Castrence, took us to meet some of the former Consular staff in Toronto already familiar to us.  She h made sure we were welcomed with open arms and we will never forget her kindness and courtesy.

The invitation to speak, and offers of hospitality were too numerous to accept, and unfortunately, too numerous to mention here.  It was to our deepest regret to have missed out on so much.

Likewise, our joy was overshadowed by the natural disasters afflicting our less fortunate countrymen, especially the victims of typhoons and floods.  But our faith in humanity was preserved by the warm, heartfelt outpouring of support of our friends in Canada and its friendly government.

Again, the hospitality of family, friends and countrymen was too great to adequately describe (and we are truly humbled and greatful).  Yet, among the more memorable were to meet with the high school alumni class ’55, my university alma mater, and the chance meetings with the president and former presidents of the Philippines.  These were treasured moments to each and every one of us.

I have always – and will be proud to be a Pilipino. Our heritage is sacred to me.  Many young people actually embarrass me when they demand advice and wisdom beyond my capability to give.  However, if I were to offer advice to our youth, the hope of our future, it would be simple be this:
First let all of your endeavors be constructive ones.  Success will come  through dedications, commitment, and above all, integrity.  This last virtue will establish you above all else, in that you will gain the trust and respect of others, and thus be afforded the opportunity to prove yourselves.  And remember; all accomplishments require time and patience.

And finally, we come to our crowning glory.  We are overwhelmed with joy to announce the safe arrival of our very first grand-daughter, Chiara, on February 8, 2005.

MABUHAY AND PILIPINAS!
MABUHAY ANG CANADA!
MABUHAY TAYONG LAHAT!

Sincerely yours,
Arturo T. Viola
Deputy Lord Mayor
Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake
Ontario, Canada