By Alex P. Vidal
SURREY, British Columbia — After being postponed following the murder of one of its finalists on September 28, 2011, the finals of the Central City Model Search competition was held in tribute to the victim Maple Batalia at the Central City Mall last January 28.
Nineteen-year-old Rachel Francis bagged the title and tearfully donated $350 of the $1,000 cash she won to a bursary in Batalia’s name.
The finals started with a 20-minute touching tribute to Batalia, a second year health science student, who was gunned down at Simon Frazer University’s campus.
The Central City Model Search donated $2,000 to a bursary represented by the slain model’s family.
“Maple has a voice beyond the grave, beyond the horrible atrocity that occurred; she is still among us,” Batalia’s sister Roseleen declared.
Police have seized in December a white 2011 Dodge Charger believed to have been involved in the brutal slaying.
Her father Hary, who was present together with wife Sarbit and their children during the tribute, have pointed to Batalia’s ex-boyfriend, Gurjinder “Gary” Dhaliwal, as the possible suspect but police have not yet disclosed if they have spoken to Dhaliwal.
Batalia reportedly “came to know something about Dhaliwal’s personal association with bad things.”
Several young Filipino-Canadian singers and dancers were among those invited to perform during the three-hour finals/tribute held in the mall’s second floor.