When Manitoba Lieutenant Governor Janice Filmon called Rey Pagtakhan to tell him that he will be invested into the highest honour in the province, the retired doctor-turned-politician was overcome with emotions.
“I was literally overwhelmed with tears of joy,” Pagtakhan shared with Canadian Filipino Net.
Being chosen as a recipient of the Order of Manitoba is another feather in the cap of the trailblazing immigrant.
The Philippine-born and-trained medical doctor was the first Canadian Filipino to be elected to the House of Commons. He remains an active member of the community as a volunteer.
“Memories of childhood and early years flashed back,” Pagtakhan said. “It was not within my dream. I am grateful to have had families, benefactors, mentors, peers, staff and fellow citizens for their faith, fellowship and friendship and to Manitoba and Canada for opening their doors of opportunity to my three careers – medicine, politics, and community volunteerism.”
First elected in 1988, Pagtakhan served for four terms as a Member of Parliament for Winnipeg North–St. Paul with the federal Liberal Party until 2004.
A lifetime member of the Privy Council for Canada, Pagtakhan was vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Health, Seniors, and the Status of Women and as Critic for Health in the shadow cabinet of the Official Opposition.
While in Government Caucus, Pagtakhan served as chair of the Standing Committees on Citizenship and Immigration and on Human Rights and as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister. He was later appointed cabinet minister for Asia Pacific, for Science, Research and Development, for Veterans Affairs, and for Western Economic Diversification. He also served as senior regional federal minister for Manitoba.
Pagtakhan arrived in Winnipeg in 1968 and became a Canadian citizen in 1974.
“While I have done my tour of duty as an immigrant citizen, I also I know there are many more who have equally excelled in their own fields of endeavor and likewise deserving,” Pagtakhan said. “Many, indeed, have helped me achieve the honour.”
The Order of Manitoba was established in 1999 to recognize individuals who have demonstrated excellence and achievement, benefiting the social, cultural or economic well-being of the province and its residents.
Pagtakhan is one of 12 Manitobans to be invested into the Order of Manitoba as part of the Canada’s 150th year anniversary at ceremonies to be held at the Manitoba Legislative Building on July 13.
“The exceptional women and men to be invested into the Order of Manitoba serve to inspire us all and reinforce that we all have the power to make a difference,” said lieutenant governor Filmon, also chancellor of the order, in a media release.
“The vast and varied contributions made by these individuals, whether their impact is felt on the local, national or international level, are most worthy of acknowledgement and acclaim. We are proud to celebrate the passion and leadership of these great Manitobans,” Filmon said.