By Karen Tan
On January 25, 2022, the Philippine Consulate General - Toronto announced that Alex Chiu (†)1 was chosen as a recipient of the 2021 Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas (PAFIOO) and awarded the Banaag Award 2021 posthumously.
Stemming from humble beginnings, Alex served his Markham community for 33 years as councilor for ward 8. During this time, the Markham Federation of Filipino Canadians (MFFC) was also established together with his wife Alicia Chiu and a small but very dedicated group of individuals who all shared the responsibilities of running the much respected and beloved organization. The work he has accomplished for more than 3 decades was unprecedented and has spanned not just Ontario but also to the Philippines. He is known to his peers as a man with few words but motivated to action. His wife, Alicia daughter, Cherrie Marie and son, Christopher (†)2, were steadfast supporters of all his projects.
Within the Markham community, Alex’s contributions abound. Through his work and dedication, he has generously contributed to the Mon Sheong Foundation, the YMCA Markham as well as various donations to organizations. The Alex Chiu golf tournament ran for several years and has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to various local organizations. He also contributed to the installation of Philippine Week in Markham to have the Philippine flag flying at the Markham Civic Centre for a week in June, the construction of the Milliken Mills community centre, the founding of the Federation of Chinese Canadians in Markham, Taste of Asia, construction of the Community Safety Village, and many others.
One of his triumphs best loved by Filipinos in Ontario is the installation of Dr. Jose Rizal’s monument in Luneta Gardens across Rizal Avenue in Markham. Visitors from far and wide have gone to see the monument which stands proudly in the middle of the parkette. It has peaked the curiosity of the community where it sits who are now familiar with part of our Philippine history.
Another accomplishment that featured Alex’s love of his country was the establishment of not 1, but 3 Ancop housing communities in the Philippines called the Markham Village. It has 51 houses in the village which benefited families who were struggling financially. These houses provided roofs over their heads and a means to properly care for their families in the safety of a community. Within this community, programs and activities were also established to help the parents and children grow even more through their hard work, dignity and pride. So many heart-warming stories can be heard from the families who continue to flourish in this community.
Alex has been recognized with so many awards but he took all of them in stride. Today, the MFFC continues to hold a beacon to seniors and youth alike with the programs offered at the centre. With Alex as its founder, the MFFC strives to maintain the level of success that has been recognized locally and internationally, due to a man who had only a few words but was motivated to action. Thank you tito Alex Chiu, this award is truly well deserved.
1 Alex Chiu passed on May 19, 2021
2 Christopher passed on October 31, 2016