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Tribute: Dennis Apuan

DENNIS APUAN, who holds the honor of being the only Filipino American having served as a Colorado State Representative, passed away in May 2020. Apuan represented Colorado House of Representatives District 17 from 2009 to 2011.

Dennis is survived by his sister, Joy Santiago of Florida. Dennis was born October 30, 1964 in Manila Philippines. He emigrated to the United States when he was 20 years old. At first, he moved to California. Then, he settled in Colorado in 1997.

“Dennis was a constant, and tireless voice in the quest for justice and peace, lending his voice to countless causes to include reproductive rights, Black Lives Matter, immigration, and homelessness. His legacy is one of both touching individual lives and investing in our community. His contributions to our community include founding the Endowment for the Asian Pacific American Collection at Pikes Peak Library District, KCMJ 93.9 FM Colorado Springs Community Radio, and the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Colorado,” said Meg Fossinger, executive director of Colorado Springs Council for Justice.

Members of the Filipino community remember Dennis. “Representative Dennis Apuan was a trailblazer,” reminisced Giselle Rushford, officer of the National Federation of the Filipino American Association (NaFFAA) Region V.

“Dennis was one of the most respective community leaders of the Filipino American community in Colorado. I was really impressed by how he coalesced various organizations to support the community in Colorado Springs/Pueblo and the Philippines.”

Award Recipient for Asian American Hero of Colorado
Dennis Apuan (middle) received the 2010 Asian American Hero of Colorado Award.

He was recognized as a 2010 Asian American Hero of Colorado. Nominated by his Legislative Aide, Aubrey Helling, she shared that Dennis possessed genuine compassion for all of humanity and seeks to understand how U.S. foreign policy impacted other nations and its people.

“He was always a champion and supporter of our work in the Philippines, ensuring food and seed sovereignty for his kababayan,” said Sherry Manning, founder and executive director of Global Seed Savers.

Rushford credited Dennis in being instrumental in fundraising efforts to help the victims of the super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda that hit the Philippines in 2013.

“Through these efforts we were able to rebuild a high school in the most hard-hit area. He was indefatigable in his fight for social justice,” Rushford said. “We will always remember his kind and diplomatic words while excoriating injustice. He will always be in our heart.”

Dennis moved to Florida several years ago to be with his family. He continued to travel to Colorado as a way to show his support for the Filipino community. The move didn’t stop Dennis from carrying on with his work in supporting immigrants and refugees in Florida.

His sister shared he was an avid gardener with a green thumb, often bringing plants back to life that others had given up on. He was an organ donor and donated his corneas.

You may send cards to Dennis Apuan’s sister Joy Santiago to 12254 Vista Point Circle, Jacksonville, FL 32246.

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