A faithful friend remembered
by Dr. Rey Pagtakhan
Antonio Polvorosa, whom we fondly called Tony, succumbed to cancer on October 5, 2016 and was laid to rest at the Holy Family cemetery on October 12th, following a funeral mass at the St. Anthony de Padua Catholic Church.
He left a legacy of beautiful memories that together constitute a tribute to our collective Filipino traits. Knowing that his earthly life was imminently coming to an end, family and friends gathered at the St. Boniface General Hospital Palliative Care Unit on September 30 to celebrate his 67th birthday. Then, an overflowing throng gathered at the Cropo Funeral Home on the evening of October 12 for the wake, lamay, to pay our respects and to comfort his family. We heard stories of his service to our Filipino community and of his friendship and faithfulness to so many; of his heroism, saving the lives of strangers from drowning; of his helpfulness, hospitality, generosity, humility and positive attitude; of his sense of humour and heartfelt camaraderie; and yes, of his love of fishing.
I must add Tony was a true fisherman. Know him and you know a lot of people. He and I first met in 1988 when I needed his help as I prepared to embrace the nobility of politics. Our friendship has since grown to involve our families. Yours truly was, therefore, deeply honoured and humbled when his family asked me to do the eulogy at the church filled with mourners. While it is a privilege to be asked to speak at any anniversary celebration when the honouree hears you from the podium, it is a far greater privilege to be asked to share from a lectern your memories of someone who is quietly resting in eternal peace. It was, indeed, my singular privilege to say a few words of remembrance about a fellow community servant.
Like many of us, Tony faced his own challenges. Raising three children, while both he and his wife Vita were working, was no easy task as it is with most newly landed immigrants. Children, particularly during their adolescence, do have their own priorities and would like to assert them. Not infrequently there would be tensions within the family. A child lost to an accident could magnify any family stress. Tony and Vita coped well. Vita with daughter Tia and son Dan (and his own family: wife Lenore and children Landen, Liam and Deziree) remember him as always passionately loving, even as they remember him being a disciplinarian. Tia and Dan are stories of career success – a source of pride for any family.
Imagine as parents, siblings, and in-laws having a member of your family circle voted as one of the top 30 young business entrepreneurs – the only Asian – and featured on the Filipino Channel (TFC) televised in over 25 countries. I am sure you would be filled with pride. Tony and Vita shed their tears of joy and pride, witnessed by millions of the TV audience when they shared the TFC’s interview of Tia on her accomplishments.
All these are a tribute to Tony (and Vita) as parents.
A devoted parishioner, always a pair of helping hands in the parish, and a member of the Knights of Columbus, Tony embodied that same faithfulness beyond his family to the greater community – an attribute his parish priest Rev. Fr. Dominic Yuen equally remembers and so dutifully reminded all at mass. Faithful and principled and with a deep sense of others, Tony was a truly fine individual – a gift to our community.
Dr. Rey Pagtakhan is a retired professor of medicine and former member of parliament and cabinet minister in the Government of Canada.