'Gentle soul' and community organizer mourned after North Vancouver crash involving alleged drunk driver

·2 min read
Marcelina Perdido Agulay was killed in a crash in North Vancouver on Tuesday night. (Beth Dollaga - image credit)
Marcelina Perdido Agulay was killed in a crash in North Vancouver on Tuesday night. (Beth Dollaga - image credit)

A community organizer and grandmother who was killed in a crash with a suspected drunk driver in North Vancouver earlier this week is being remembered for her fearless advocacy and gentle heart.

Marcelina Perdido Agulay, 65, died in hospital after a head-on crash late Tuesday night that left her husband in critical condition. The driver of the other vehicle had crossed the centre line, and investigators believe alcohol was a factor in the collision.

Agulay lived in Burnaby with her husband, and the couple had one son and two grandchildren, according to family and friends. She was active in her union and politics, and volunteered with Migrante B.C., which advocates for the rights of Filipino migrants.

"She was a really quiet, gentle soul," Leila Lolua, president of the NDP Burnaby South riding association, told CBC News.

"She would never be loud, she'd never be forceful, but she was a force — always with a smile. What made her special to me was she didn't just talk, she actually did the work."

Agulay's longtime friend Beth Dollaga, a founding member of Migrante B.C., said she met Agulay in church in 1996 on her very first Sunday in Canada. They became "sisters in faith" and then close friends.

Agulay had earned a university degree in agriculture back home in the Philippines, but left in search of employment as a domestic worker, first in Hong Kong and then eventually in Canada.

After settling in B.C., she went back to school to become an early childhood educator, and volunteered with Migrante B.C.'s temporary foreign worker outreach program.

"She's able to immediately connect with these workers," Dollaga remembered. "She has a gentle spirit of listening."

Dollaga said Agulay and her husband, Manong Leo, loved cooking and sharing signature Ilocano dishes from the northern Philippines with their friends and family.

Though Agulay was retired, she continued door-knocking for political campaigns and worked at the Burnaby Citizens Association.

Premier John Horgan described her as "a tireless advocate for working people" in a tweet on Wednesday night.

"She made our communities and our world better. She will be forever missed and forever loved," NDP MLA Mable Elmore said.

Agulay's family says her love extended far beyond them to her community and its newest arrivals — a legacy they intend to uphold in her honour.