(An Insight from One Who is Attributed by People As the Closest Personal Friend of Senator Jun, delivered late afternoon today during the Visitation with the Enverga Family at the Highland Funeral Home, Scarborough, Ontario Chapel)
By Ace Alvarez
Note to Readers: This Eulogy is limited only to my personal friendship with the late Senator Jun Enverga and does not cover his initiatives, nor work he did in the Senate of Canada for the betterment of his fellow Canadians — which were covered in eulogies delivered by his fellow politicians in the Senate and other levels of government in Canada.
He was attributed as the First Filipino Canadian to have been elected in office in Toronto.
He was attributed as the First Filipino Canadian to have been appointed to the august halls of the Upper Chamber of Canadian Parliament — the Senate of Canada.
These were just two of the countless ones that have been attributed to the late Jun Enverga in his work acting in several capacities as, firstly, a community advocate and leader; secondly as a Catholic School Board Trustee for Ward 10 in the City of Toronto; and thirdly, as a Senator in Canada.
Jun’s accomplishments in life have had always been aligned to one of his mantras: “God, Community, Country.”
I’m Ace Alvarez.
Talking of attributions — and together with my wife Gie Alvarez, we have been attributed by people as the closest friends to Jun and Rosemer.
It was an attribution by people that Gie and I never denied, nor confirmed; and reason was that, we did not, or do not really know, considering the fact the Jun, Rosemer and their three children are really surrounded by hundreds of people close to them. What does this narration tell us? That the couple are really people persons! and loved by the people whose lives they have touched by their work and good deeds, directly, or indirectly.
I came to know Jun 21 years back when he was the President of the Lucena Association.
He phoned one afternoon in June 1996 inviting me to one of his events at the Lucena Association. At the time, I was Editor of newly-published Manila Media Monitor — a regional community paper serving the news and information needs of the Filipino Canadian community in Toronto and its suburbs.
I told him that I wouldn’t be able to go for the date and time of his invitation and that to send me any material he wanted published in my publication. That invitation was followed by another event he had for the Lucena Association. Like the first one, I declined his invitation; and so with the next four, which period by the sixth invite totaled probably between six to eight months.
The next time he phoned for yet another invitation, Jun changed his approach.
He rung me and asked, “Don’t tell me you’re not going again this time?”
I replied, “Where?”
He said, “I’m inviting you to an event of the Lucena Association.”
I was so embarrassed that I said, “Oh, I’m going. Give me the details please.”
The night of his event, Jun stayed with me most of the time; and that started a beautiful friendship, spreading later to include my wife — Gie; his wife — Rosemer; and, familiarity with their three children, Rystle, Rocel and Reeza.
The story I just told you showed that Jun was a persevering person, such that he wouldn’t stop until he would get someone, or something that he wanted to his cause, or his side.
Our friendship knew no bounds, that we could communicate with each other, or one another to include our spouses, 24/7.
In the wee hour of a night back in August 2012, I was working when Jun sent one email to me at 2 AM, saying, “Ace, can you comment on this, please?”
The original of the email came from one of the convenors of the Global Filipinos Network in Europe. Jun was requested as an Overseas Filipino to comment on his thoughts on the appointment of such Overeas Filipinos as Party List Representatives in the Philippine Congress. He did; and he wanted me to comment as well; and yes, I did — with a note to Jun, at the end, saying, “Oh, you have an interest to be in politics in the Philippines?
“Also, it’s past 2 in the morning and you’re still awake?”
He responded right away, writing, “Why not?”, referring to a possible public office in the Philippines, and “So are you,” meaning I was awake, too.
What does the narration here tells us? That Jun — regardless of his regular employment as an IT Manager at the Bank of Montreal, and, at the time, his work as an elected Trustee with the Toronto Catholic District School Board (which, incidentally, he had always referred to as his “volunteer work” during our many conversation) was really a hardworking man.
Two weeks later, specifically on August 30, 2012, at the cafeteria of this very place — Highland Funeral Homes, he told me in secrecy, that he was being summoned to the Office of the Prime Minister in Toronto for a meeting that coming Monday.
After the meeting, he told me the following day what the meeting was about and that the appointment was to be announced, Thursday, September 3, 2012. I guess I was among the first ones to congratulate him. The rest is history; the Senate seat for one very humble Filipino Canadian was an honor for — and to, the entire Filipino community!
Friends, you might have noticed that I referred to the late Senator Tobias Enverga, Jr. as “Jun” in my talk here.
You see, as a Journalist, I was trained to address someone in government by adding the title Mr. or Mrs. before the government position — and never, never, “Sir, or Madam”. Reason for this is to make a journalist at level with the person he, or she, is talking with.
For how could I be at level with a friend should I address one with — in this case, “Senator”, thus, the reason. Jun had always been a friend, an extraordinary one — pure and simple.
On his birthday, December 2, 2012, at his residence, I asked Jun if I could talk to him in private; at his basement, where there would be only two of us with nobody hearing. I started, “Let me address you as Jun — because I’m talking to you as a friend,” then I proceeded with my concerns about him and his family on a matter affecting us.
He was just listening to me and never argued on anything I said.
At another time, in one gathering at the hall of the “Our Lady of Assumption Parish” — the seat of the Archdiocesan Filipino Catholic Mission (where he was one very active participant in its affairs), he whispered to me, “How come you’ve been snubbing me?”
I replied, “I’m not! Look at all this people wanting to talk to you! Wanting to have photos with you!” This is one chance they could have in order to do that. At my end, I have tons of photographs with you and I don’t need to have more. So, please go around and give them what they long for. I have access to you anyway, 24/7, as you, likewise, have on me.”
Friends, that’s how friendship must be; to be shared with everyone; no jealousy!
There was one guy who was here last night who approached me, introducing himself as a Brother in the Knights of Columbus — and whom Jun knew, personally. He told me that he phoned the Senator one time in Ottawa and left a message on an issue the latter was concerned with. He was surprised that the Senator returned his call and addressed the issue that he was concerned about.
Friends, these were how Jun valued friendship. He had been true to his friends; and I don’t even have to say this. All those comments in social media during this present circumstances of our great loss point out to this. Oh, what a man he was!
I heard his daughter Reeza spoke last night; that with everything her dad was pre-occupied with, people may think that he had no time for his family. Just like what Reeza cited last night, I, for one, knew, that Jun’s priority had always been his family. Just look at all those photos there at the exhibit area of this place.
After Jun passed away, Rosemer and I were talking, where she expressed that she didn’t know what’s next.
I reminded Rosemer that there is what we call a Divine Plan and a Divine Order; that in order for Divine Plan to be realized or fulfilled, things must first be placed in order. I counseled Rosemer not to crack her head by searching for answers right now; for answers to her questions will manifest at one point or another later.
Last night, in his talk, Monsignor Joano said, “Jun’s work on earth is done now, and that Jun is happy where he is now.” Yet, the memory of Jun’s life, works and writings (… and he was a good writer, being a man of arts and letters that he was. I knew; I was once his Editor) will live! VIVAT, JUN!
In the meantime, as our lines have been opened to you 24/7 in all platforms of communication, Jun, rest assured that the same REMAIN OPEN to Rosemer, Rystle, Rocel and Reeza.
FOREVER WE ARE, FRIENDS! … and THAT IS MY and GIE’s UNDERTAKING — as you, Jun — and Rosemer, Rystle, Rocel and Reeza, have proven yourselves during the last five or six years in your — Gie’s and my, lives. Sabi nga sa Tagalog, “Pati pambato, taya!”
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