Mel Tobias Plaza in Vancouver a source of Filipino community pride

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  • A plaza in Vancouver that was named after the late Mel Tobias is serving as a symbol of pride for the Filipino Canadian community.

    Tobias was a beloved figure in the community.

    The plaza is located at the southwest corner of Kingsway and Joyce Avenue.

    Tobias wore many hats in life, and among these were journalist, book author, and editor.

    Tobias edited Living Today, a highly acclaimed magazine published by the ReyFort Media Group.

    Tobias died in 2017. He would have turned 81 on July 29, 2020.

    The City of Vancouver completed renovations for the Mel Tobias Plaza last spring.

    In February this year, a plaque was installed.

    The plaque reads:

    “Mel Tobias (1939-2017). Born in the Philippines, Mel Tobias spent many years in Hong Kong, and in 1993 settled in Vancouver. As a writer and radio host, Mr. Tobias chronicled the challenges and achievements of his community in Canada and inspired countless Filipino-Canadians to celebrate their unique and multi-faceted culture. He also championed causes that sought to uplift newcomers, live-in caregivers, immigrant youth, and women leaders.”

    The plaza used to be known as the Collingwood Clock Tower Garden.

    The site was renamed after Tobias on September 19, 2018 as part of the city’s commemorative naming of 15 locations.

    Following the plaque’s installation in February 2020, new benches were mounted in March.

    Friends remember Tobias for being a kind-hearted soul, and a mentor to many.

    Tobias was passionate about the arts, and was a lover of film, theatre, and music.

    As of this writing, the plaque was cleaned by painter Ms. Esmie Gayon McLaren.

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