In Memoriam: Antonio L. Mapa
My dear uncle and godfather, Antonio Ledesma Mapa, passed away early this morning. The car he was driving suffered a collision with a truck that had a faulty headlight. He was on his way from the Mapa-Ledesma farm in Tanjay, Negros Oriental to the Ledesma farm in San Carlos, Negros Occidental. The accident happened in the town of Guihulngan. I was driving to work when my brother Cidni texted me with the news. I felt so sad that I had to pull over to collect myself.
Ninong Tony was 66 years old. He is survived by his sisters (Cecy and Loretto), brothers (Cidito, Mingoy, and Monry), wife (Marilyn), 5 children (Tonton, Rina, Nikko, Lisa and Miel), and 12 grandchildren.
Back in 1986, both of us were working in the United States. I was assigned to Andersen Consulting's Advanced Systems Center in Chicago. Ninong Tony was serving our country as tourism attache for North America. One weekend, I visited him and his family in their house in New Jersey. I asked if he could keep a secret, and he said surely. I told him that I had met the girl who I was going to marry, that I had asked for her hand, and that she had said yes! He was so happy to hear the news. I asked him for advice on how to tell my parents. He said, oh don't worry about it. Of course, he told my Dad within 24 hours. Problem solved. ;-)
We shared several common aspirations that gave me the chance to resonate with him.
He was a rally driver, a motorsports pioneer in the country. When I'm in my CRV, I like to imagine I'm a rally driver. :-D
He was an accomplished photographer. During family reunions, he would entertain us with slideshows and we would reminisce over dozens of Kodak carousel trays. I too love taking pictures, especially underwater. Instead of carousels, I take my photo collection around on CDs hoping someone will ask to see them. :-/
He was an explorer/adventurer. He was the first in our family to reach Negros Oriental's Lake Balinsasayao, a freshwater lake 1,000 feet above sea level. I was the only one in our family crazy enough to try to swim across the lake! It took me more than half an hour, and the reduced buoyancy almost drowned me in the process, but I made it! :-O
Finally, we're both avid golfers. He was a very quick putter, regardless of whether he had a short or a long putt. He would step up to the ball, take a breath, then stroke the ball towards the hole. He rarely needed more than one putt, because he had such an excellent short game.
I'll never forget one summer afternoon in the '70s when I was still a teenager. I crossed the fence into his lawn (we were neighbors). He lassoed me into a pitching contest. We would pitch balls from the lawn onto the porch step. The winner would be the one who got the most number of balls to bounce off the porch step right back to where we were pitching from! He once did three in a row. He was that good!
The most memorable times I've had with my Ninong Tony were on the golf course. We played rounds together at Riviera, Calatagan, Splendido, Midlands, Navy, Sta. Elena, Alabang, and Marapara. We shared many a laugh together over golf. My dad's handicap was a running joke among us. And last year's Major tournaments gave him another running joke. Ernie Els was a consistent contender. So every time I would ask him who won, he would text back, "someone els". I hope to one day play another round together. In the meantime, here are more golf jokes that I wish I could have shared with him.
Enjoy the 19th hole, Ninong Tony. We miss you!
Updated 10 March 2005 to add links to other online tributes to my uncle:
Butch Gamboa for the Philippine Star
Vernon Sarne for the Manila Times