ObituaryTransition

Jun Antonio: Such a darned good man

He turned out to be one of my life’s dearest acquisitions

Jun Antonio: Celebrating him in our memory and in our hearts

IN MEMORIAM
Pablo R. Antonio, Jr.
November 6, 1940 – November 22, 2022

I’m speaking in place of my wife, Chit, whose feelings are simply too fragile to risk being tested on this occasion. So if you would please allow me:

Jun being a favorite cousin of hers and the adored nephew of her mom’s, there was no chance for me to not have acquired him as a relation, too. Not to mention, as Remy [his wife] herself liked pointing out, her being a Vergel de Dios and my being a Vergel Santos rounded out the providential quality of the connection.

Indeed, Jun turned out to be one of my life’s dearest acquisitions, as both in-law and friend. Our relationship grew progressively close through the years, such that in recent years Chit and I found ourselves invited to the Antonios’ for their Sunday family lunches, apart yet from the commemorative feasts — only the pandemic stopped us going. Invariably on those occasions I sat at table right next to Jun and felt privileged and perked by his conversation, which ranged from common remembrances of the old times and the old places to such timeless interests as food, tennis, and music, standards in particular.

Where the story did not connect to me as a participant or even as a witness, Jun’s recounting still captivated me, because he had been himself not only a player but a factor in it, and I, the compulsive journalist that I am, simply could not resist a juicy story. Personages that were mere faces and names to me or, in any case, too distant for me to know enough about, he knew only too well. If I mentioned any of them in my journalism, I kept Jun out of it as a character or source. Our relationship was simply too candid and precious to me to cause it the slightest crack from any breach of prudence. I didn’t even ask him what was fair game for journalistic revelation and what was not — a true friend knows, a true friend doesn’t ask. I had my own juicy stories to tell and he obviously relished them in turn.

At any rate, we always enjoyed each other. He liked having a trio of musicians play and sing tunes from our time — just like now — and he sang along, softly. Somehow he liked to see and hear me having a go at it myself, not softly at all, but, rather, seriously. I’m not a frustrated singer or guitar player; I know my place in such sacred matters, and that place is my own solitary privacy, not anywhere outside, not for any public viewing or listening. But when Jun asked I obliged, and did so with pleasure, without feeling the slightest obligation to sing for my lunch, although that would have been more than a fair deal — Antonio lunches beat all lunches.

Even in frail health, Jun was incredibly pleasant, even enthusiastic, as enthusiastic as his condition allowed anyway. When Chit and I saw Pia [his daughter, a dentist]at her clinic only last week, on her father’s 21st day of hospital confinement, we three tried to console ourselves by feeding one another our dearest hopes.

That’s why Chit and I feel utterly broken. But we doubtless will in the end feel more than merely consoled having closely known such a darned good man and being able to celebrate him in our memory and in our hearts.


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