Erick, 59, and Felicito, 72, passed away at their home in Marikina, Philippines on December 21, 2018. Both were laid to rest in Christ the King Columbarium in Quezon City on December 27, 2018.
Patrick Chuasoto, Deputy Chief of Missions of the Philippine Embassy, welcomed the more than 80 guests, which included former Veterans Affairs Secretary Gen. Erik Shinseki and his wife, officials of the U.S. Mint, representatives of the National Veterans Network, FilVetREP board members and executive officers, and Filipino World War II Veteran Rey Cabacar. Erick’s sister, Mrs. Priscilla Soriano Sutherland, and younger brother, Rafaelito, represented the Soriano family.
Father Marcelino Cortez of St. Columba Catholic Church celebrated the Memorial Mass. He was assisted by Margaret Lacson-Ecarma, who served as Emcee of the evening program. Participating in the Mass as readers were Marie Blanco, Brian Lee and Matthew Lester Sutherland. Tenor Patrick Kilbride provided special music, which included “On Eagle’s Wings,” “Bring Him Home” and “Wind Beneath My Wings.”
Speaking on behalf of the family, Priscilla shared words of remembrance about her brothers, Erick and Felicito. She expressed the family’s appreciation and thanks for the community’s prayers and support during their time of mourning and grief.
In his eulogy, FilVetREP Chairman Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), recalled meeting Erick for the first time in 2007, when he joined the advisory board of the Pan Pacific American Leaders and Mentors (PPALM), a leadership and mentoring group: “I asked why he wanted to be the General Counsel of a small, startup non-profit group. He said he wanted to be part of an organization willing to help others succeed in their professional careers.” Erick went on to be General Counsels to other non-profit organizations, including the Asian American Government Employees Network (AAGEN), National Veterans Network, FilVetREP and others.
Gen. Taguba also recalled that during the campaign to secure national recognition for the Filipino Veterans of World ll, Erick was “relentless in researching the legislative and legal references over the course of several months to ensure passage of the Congressional Gold Medal Act in Congress in 2016. He later coordinated with the United States Mint on the medal design and intellectual property protections and compliance. He mentioned that his involvement with FilVetREP was most notably the best pro bono volunteer work he had accomplished in his professional life as a lawyer. The personal satisfaction for him was witnessing firsthand the national recognition of Filipino and American veterans on Capitol Hill, on Oct. 25, 2017 – an epic event that had taken almost 75 years to accomplish.”
“We will remember Erick for his extraordinary and positive manner on his innate ability to relate with his fellow man – to motivate and inspire others, to calm those who are in distress, ready to help in any instance, and able to forgive even when it was difficult at times. That’s Erick -loving his family and friends unconditionally. And so, we love him for who he was and will forever. He is one of a kind,” Gen. Taguba said.
After his eulogy, Gen. Taguba presented a bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of Erick. Erick’s sister Priscilla and brother Rafaelito received the medal on behalf of the family.
During the reception following the Memorial Mass, Chuckie Ibay, a close family friend, honored Erick and Felicito with a couple of musical renditions.
Both Erick and Felicito were born in Manila, Philippines, but were U.S. citizens. They were among 12 children of Mariano Soriano and Mercedes Castor, also from Manila.
Letters or sympathy cards may be sent to Ms. Priscilla Sutherland c/o Margaret Lacson-Ecarma at 2116 S. Columbus Street, Arlington, VA 22206.
The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, community-based, all-volunteer national initiative whose mission is to obtain national recognition of Filipino and American WW11 soldiers across the United States and the Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 26, 1941 to December 31, 1946. For more information about Filipino WWII veterans and how to get involved, visit our website at www.filvetrep.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.