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Eddie Lee, 84: Pillar of the Filipino Community in GTA

Eduardo Ibanez Lee, 84.

He left behind his wife Marita Lee and the adult sons Robert, Jude, and Chris.

I call him Sir Ed, but he is known in the community as the publisher of Atin Ito Newspaper, Eddie Lee. He is a fixture in the Filipino community of Greater Toronto Area. People remember him quickly for his smiling and welcoming personality, along with his white hair too.

For me and others whom he had extended help, he’s next to a philanthropist, if not one. A realtor by trade, I remember Sir Ed giving pledges and donations at some events where the organizers are raising funds for a cause. I heard him asking Tita Marita about a newcomer family they were caring for. He didn’t mind the distance between Mississauga and Scarborough driving me and my daughter in the midst of winter.

Community Pillar

Philippine Ambassador to Canada, Petronila P. Garcia describes Sir Ed as a pillar of the Filipino community in GTA, in an interview by Romy Marquez of FilipinoWebChannel. She adds, “He shown positive light on our culture, and our community here in Greater Toronto Area. We have lost a friend, and a strong advocate of the Philippines.”

Sir Ed has always been present for the Filipino people. His desire to serve the Filipino is the reason why he founded Atin Ito Newspaper along with his fraternity brother, the late journalist Ruben Cusipag, founder of Balita. Presently, Atin Ito is the oldest Filipino newspaper in GTA, now in its 43rd year.

His service in Canadian society was recognized by the Parliament in 2016, through MP Michael Levitt who acknowledged Ed Lee’s contribution in preserving the value of multiculturalism found in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Levitt cited: “You and your organization are at the core of what makes Canada great, our diversity.”

In the same year, Ed Lee was also a recipient of a Distinguished Alumnus Award in Community Service given by the University of the Philippines Alumni Association during its 103rd year celebration of Walang Humpay ang Tagumpay.

A graduate of Agriculture from UP Los Banos, Ed Lee is a known and proud member of Upsilon Sigma Phi, a male-exclusive organization in the University of the Philippines.

Meanwhile in 1998, the Philippine government acknowledged Ed Lee’s capability to unite the Filipino people in Canada when he was appointed to lead the Philippine Centennial celebration of independence that showcased the country’s values and cultures.

This year, he was among the recipients of UNO 2019 Luminary Awards during the USPAA 17th Biennial Congress held at the UP-BGC. The said award is the highest award given to an Upsilonian by Upsilon Sigma Phi Alumni Association. The Upsilonian Noble & Outstanding (UNO) award is given to members of the USPAA who has proven a lifetime achievement that fulfills the fraternity’s FIVE IMPERATIVES (Brotherhood, Integrity, Excellence, Leadership & Service) of membership in the most excellent manner possible.

Other awards Ed Lee received were 1987 Ethnic Media Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Ontario Minister of Citizenship; the 1995 Better Understanding Among Ontarians through Journalism Award from the Honourable Bob Rae, the then Premier of Ontario; and the Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Honourable Sheila Finestone, the then Minister of State for Multiculturalism. He is also a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient.

 

Patriotic Filipino

Although he’s been residing in Canada for decades, a law-abiding one, an asset to the Canadian society, Eddie Lee remained loyal to the Philippines. In spite of his success in Canada, both in personal and professional life he didn’t change his nationality. He kept his Philippine passport.

His service was always about the Filipinos, catering to their needs as well as promoting anything positive about them. This is the principle he applied in Atin Ito that features and promotes Filipino pride and cultures.

A humble person, Eddie Lee is not part of any Filipino community organization in GTA but he definitely supports every one of them. I remember asking him why, and he said then, “I don’t need to be a member of an organization to support them, I will always be of service to them even if I’m not their member.”

 

Loyal husband, family man

In a world of promiscuity, Sir Ed Lee has proven that there are still loyal men.

I was comfortable going with Sir Ed to our interviews and coverages even just the two of us due to the fact that he was loyal to his wife, Tita Marita. He was full of joy, at the time he was sharing their love stories. Their exchanges of love letters, his travel to the US then Canada to follow her.

Then, it was February 14, 2012, we were together in a minor car accident along the heavily trafficked 401 on the way to pick up Tita Marita coz he wanted to surprise her and take her to dinner. That night, Tita Marita – who fell asleep after work – wasn’t answering his call and I saw how worried he was and he kept saying, it was unlikely of his wife to not answer his call.

Whoever has watched this couple closely, will know that Sir Ed and Tita Marita’s relationship is one admirable and inspirational. Their interaction and treatment of each other are ideal.

To his children, he was always present and raised them grounded and responsible. He provided his children their needs and whatever they wanted but despite that he didn’t raise his sons to be spoiled.

Sir Ed you will surely be missed in the Filipino community.

 

By Riza Khamal