A 22-year-old Filipino-South African activist died of “sudden illness” while helping poor communities in Mindoro.
Amado Khaya Canham Rodriguez passed away on August 4, two years after he moved to the Philippines from the United States to pursue his advocacy of building homes for the less fortunate Filipinos.
“Amado would not have wanted us to stop there,” they said. “He would have said that if he died from food poisoning, it is because the Filipino people — especially the indigenous — despite being inheritors of incredibly fertile, life-giving land, live under conditions such that local landowners and foreign companies own that land.”
“And because they do not own that land, most people can barely produce enough food to eat. Amado would have said that if his death was compounded by COVID-19, it is because the Philippines — and even the United States, the country of his birth — has a health system that put profits over people,” they added.
The Filipino-South African activist was born and Oakland, California. He lived briefly in the Philippines and South Africa when he was a child before moving to New Jersey, and then returning to Oakland.
Filipino-South African helping the poor in Mindoro dies of ‘sudden illness’
He studied at California High School, but his status as a biracial Black student “seemed to marginalize him.” This prompted him to reactivate the Black Student Union with the birth of Black Lives Matter in response to the 2012 killing of Tayvon Martin. He then became involved with the Black Lives Matter Movement after he graduated.
Amado’s parents said that their son “truly lived up to his name.”
“His Filipino name, ‘Amado’ means beloved, and his South African name, ‘Khaya’ means home. He died doing the work of literally building homes for the poorest of the poor in the Philippines. That was preceded by work of fighting to preserve affordable homes in his city of birth,” they said.
“Though his life was short-lived, it was a life well-lived. Amado serves as a shining example of the kind of ethos, the kind of commitment that today’s world so desperately needs,” they added.
A Go Fund Me page was set up to raise funds for his medical expenses, and so his family could bring Amado’s home safely. They were able to raise $39,221, and additional funds would be donated to causes that Amado started.