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REFLECTIONS | The Belgian Davaoeño


In the quiet of a starlit night, we bid farewell to Arnold Vandenbroeck – a remarkable soul whose journey amongst us has come to a close. Arnold at the age of 71, met his tragic end around 1:00 a.m. on a somber Wednesday, succumbing to injuries inflicted when a vehicle hit his bicycle.


Arnold who came from Belgium. arrived on our shores in 1974, when our nation was shrouded in the shadow of martial law. A man of unwavering principles, he devoted his life to the causes he held dear: environmentalism, human rights, and sustainable development.


Through the ebbs and flows of history, Arnold’s path led him from Agusan to Antique, until he found his heart’s home in the embrace of Davao City. Here, he co-founded the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability Inc. (IDIS), an organization that tirelessly advocated for a greener, more sustainable future. His work echoed through time and space, resonating with people, governments, and organizations alike.


In 2011, the King of Belgium recognized his indomitable spirit by bestowing upon him the title of Knight in the “Order of the Crown.” A well-deserved honor for a life spent in the service of others.


As we face the somber reality of his departure, Arnold’s family has chosen a different path to commemorate his life. In the tranquil embrace of their home, they will host select days of remembrance and reflection, inviting all who wish to pay their respects to join in celebrating the legacy he leaves behind.


A significant endeavor that held a special place in Arnold’s heart was his “stroll among the trees” project on the family farm. This unique pathway winds through the land he lovingly tended, planting numerous trees, possibly even thousands, throughout his lifetime. It had always been his dream to find his final resting place amidst the very trees he nurtured. As a tribute, on his 40th day, scheduled for October 16, 2023, the family has revealed their plan to scatter a portion of his ashes there, beneath the very trees he so cherished, fulfilling his lifelong aspiration.


In his passing, Arnold Vandenbroeck reminds us that even in the face of darkness, the light of our deeds can continue to shine, casting a glow of inspiration upon all who follow his path.


Our sincerest condolences to his wife Ate Norma and his children, Maya and Bayani.


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