Consul General Rosalita S. Prospero remembered: ‘Kindness and Patience Personified’

Community Round Up Jun 14, 2019 at 3:10 pm

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By Michelle Chermaine Ramos
The Philipipne Reporter

On Saturday morning June 8, 2019, the Filipino community gathered at St. Ansgar Lutheran Church in North York to remember and honour Consul General Rosalita S. Prospero. Lovingly called “ConGen Rose” by many in the community, she was often described as “quiet”, “humble” and “down-to-earth”. Even Rev. Pamela Kormano who officiated the memorial service revealed that she and the other parishioners at St. Ansgar were unaware that she held the high position of Consul General of the Philippines the entire time she was attending masses there with her niece.

Born on September 29, 1962 in Manila, Philippines, Consul General Prospero was raised in Cavite and was the only child of Ramon Prospero, a government official and Aurora Sayoc, a teacher. She graduated from the University of the Philippines Diliman with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and worked as a science research associate in Australia before transferring to the Department of Science and Technology and eventually became the head of the International Technology Cooperation team of the University of Santo Tomas.

Mourners at the ceremony.

Mourners at the ceremony.

She joined the Department of Foreign Affairs in the early 1990s and her career has spanned more than 26 years.

Prior to her assignment in Canada, she served as Vice Consul and then Consul of the Philippine Consulate General in Sydney, Australia and as the Minister and Consul General and then Minister and Deputy Permanent Representative to UNESCO of the Philippine Embassy in Paris, France.

In 2015, she took on her assignment as Consul General at the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto where she decided to stay even when an opportunity with the United Nations opened up for her in New York. She found happiness working with her staff and the Filipino Canadian community.

The solemn ceremony included an introduction by Consul Edwin Gil Q. Mendoza followed by eulogies from Ambassador Petronila P. Garcia, the Honorable Angela Ponce, Minister and Legal Adviser of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations, Alice Herrera read by Labor Attache Rachel P. Zozobrado-Nagayo and Dr. Patrick Alcedo.

Photos: MC Ramos

Photos: MC Ramos

Deputy Consul General Bernadette Therese C. Fernandez and Consul Edna May Grecia-Lazaro read passages from the books of Psalms and Ecclesiastes. Emmanuel Santos and Paolo Busato delivered beautiful solos of classic hymns.

Following the ceremony, guests gathered for a hearty Filipino lunch buffet in the church’s community hall where they shared their fond memories of Consul General Prospero. Attendees included her colleagues in the diplomatic corps, community leaders, friends, and various members of the community from all walks of life and organizations she generously supported over the years as well as some of her classmates from elementary and high school.

Consul Edwin Gil. Q. Mendoza:

“She achieved so much promoting the Philippines here in Canada, particularly by showcasing the best of Philippine culture and sharing the Philippines’s history especially to second and third generation Filipino Canadians. She worked hard to bring the Filipino community together because she strongly believed that there is strength in unity and she promoted Philippine-Canada relations in several areas. Today, we honor ConGen Rose, a dedicated public servant, committed patriot, professional diplomat, an effective, caring leader and an understanding leader. I would like to end with a quote that I believe was written for our beloved ConGen Rose, ‘Nothing is so strong as gentleness and nothing is so gentle as real strength.’”

Ambassador Petronila Garcia:

“Rose was a humble and quiet person, soft-spoken, never seeking the limelight and always wanting to be of service to the Filipino community. She had a solid reputation as a very good and hard-working Philippine foreign service officer. Intelligent, helpful, thoughtful and clear-headed. Throughout the many difficult issues that we faced here in Canada, she was a reliable partner who gave her all for our country and our countrymen.

As Consul General of the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto, she led the office with a steady hand as they served more than half of the over 931,000 Filipinos here in Canada. She soldiered on despite her illness and even while she was in the ICU last month, she would still call the office to guide them through the overseas voting process. Rose was generous and hospitable. Whenever I came to Toronto, she would always invite me to stay in Hotel Prospero, her own residence. We are all here because Rose’s life has touched our own. She was a colleague, a mentor, a supervisor and a leader. To me, she will always be my friend and sister.”

Honorable Angela Ponce, Minister and Legal Adviser, Philippine Mission to the United Nations (For and on behalf of colleagues in the Department of Foreign Affairs):

“ConGen Rose, or Tita Rose as we fondly called her, and I were posted together at the Philippine embassy in Paris nearly 15 years ago. In Paris, Tita Rose, myself and our colleague called ourselves the ‘Three Little Pigs’. Since we were all single and in Paris on our own, we were each other’s family. We bonded as siblings with Tita Rose.”
Ponce recalled a time when an opportunity to work with the United Nations opened up in New York and when she asked Consul General Prospero to join her, she declined, changing her mind after she had found happiness in Toronto, “She said, ‘Hindi na, Ange. Happy na ako dito sa Toronto. Mabait ang Amba ko, ang babait nang officers and staff ko, ang galing nang secretary ko, at mabait ang Filipino community. Suerte ako.’ In English, (‘No more, Ange. I’m no longer interested in New York, my ambassador is so kind, my officers and my staff are so kind, my secretary is excellent and the Filipino community is also very kind. I am very lucky.’)”

“That we call her Tita Rose is manifestation of how well loved she was. It is a term of endearment betraying deep love and affection for someone who was kindness and patience personified. She exemplified the best for the women and men in the foreign affairs, a principled public servant committed to service for the Philippines and the Filipino people.”

Rachel P. Zozobrado-Nagayo, Labor Attache, read a eulogy written by Alice Herrera, President of UPAA (For and on behalf of the Filipino community):

“When I learned in 2015 that she would be our next ConGen, I was so delighted since we had not seen each other since 1988, 27 years, when our division got disbanded during a reorganization of the Department of Science and Technology,” writes Herrera recalling how they bonded playing volleyball representing the National Science and Technology Authority, doing secretarial work, pulling all-nighters preparing minutes for delegates using only typewriters, carbon copies and stencils.

“There were some hardships but it was okay because there was great bonding among us and we were cared for by our colleagues during that time since both of us were among the youngest in the team, especially Rose who is younger than me and who we loved very much. Because of her being malambing and very caring, she was lovingly called by her teammates as ‘Bata’.”

Herrera also recalled in 2016 when she had difficulty securing host families for the UP Concert Chorus, she approached Consul General Prospero to ask if she was willing to be one of the hosts and despite her busy schedule, she immediately opened her home to host two members of the UP Concert Chorus. “ConGen Rose was so energetic that she probably attended most if not all our events whether they were after office hours or even doing weekends when she should be really sleeping or resting.

Dr. Patrick Alcedo (For and on behalf of partners in the promotion of Philippine culture):

“She emanated joy within and around her. Every time my brothers and I visited the office and planned for Indak or to organize a dance workshop for the members of the consulate as part of their continuing education, or simply to say ‘Hello’, she was filled with positivity and a can-do-it attitude. Truly, she was a cheerleader for Filipino artists and Philippine expressive cultures.”

Rizalina Sapinoso, elementary and high school classmate:

Sapinoso remembers how Prospero was generous even as a child in Grade 3-4, always sharing quail eggs with her classmates. “She’s the best friend you could ever ask for. Very thoughtful, kind, she’s really smart. Always on the honour roll. During our elementary days, her dad used to work in Manila and every time he would come home, he would bring her quail eggs which she would bring to school and share with us. I remember her sharing the quail eggs with me all the time and I loved it. That’s a very precious memory I have of her. Being the kind and unselfish Rose, she was always there just sharing everything.”

Rolly Abarilla, high school classmate, PAG artist:

Abarilla was part of the same Agape Student Centre Bible study group with Consul General Rosalita Prospero. The last time they saw each other was when they graduated from high school in 1978. They met again in 2015 at the Philippine Artists Group’s painting session in a Mississauga park with UNICEF artist Manuel Baldemor. Consul General Prospero participated in creating the collaborative painting which now hangs in the Toronto Philippine Consulate General’s board room. “When I learned that she was a Consul General and she’s been to Sydney and Paris, I was surprised. I never expected that she would be a diplomat since she was a quiet type. It’s a good thing to know that she has achieved a lot. When we first saw her in 2015, I recognized her right away. She looks almost the same from high school days,” said Abarilla.