The Canadian Filipino community in Manitoba has said goodbye to Conrad Santos, the first person born in the Philippines to be elected to public office in Canada.
Santos, a long-time member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) of the province, died in Winnipeg on February 29, 2016. He was 81 years old. Santos became the NDP MLA for Burrows in 1981, holding that riding until it was changed in 1988, the local Pilipino Express recounted.
The paper related that Santos was elected to the legislative assembly again in 1990, and served as NDP MLA for Broadway until 1999. Subsequently, he became NDP MLA for Wellington until his political calling came to an end in 2007.
The Pilipino Express reported that “Santos was a colourful figure during his political career”.
Santos had a PhD in political science. He attended Harvard University and the University of Michigan. He moved to Winnipeg in 1965 after receiving a teaching position at the University of Manitoba. He retired from the U of M in 2008.
In a statement, Premier Greg Selinger said that Santos “served his adopted province and his constituency with dedication and self-sacrifice”.
Winnipeg Councillor Mike Pagtakhan said Santos and Pagtakhan’s uncle, former federal MP Rey Pagtakhan, who was first elected in 1988, were trailblazers in the Filipino community.
“He was a good man and proud of his heritage,” Pagtakhan said in a report by the Winnipeg Free Press.
Pagtakhan added: “Public service was in his blood and he lived out his dream.”