The ‘fire and rain’in Tony

SINGKIT - Notes from the editor (The Philippine Star) - September 14, 2014 - 12:00am

The STAR family lost one of our own last week. Tony Paño succumbed to cancer just five weeks after he was brought to hospital and diagnosed. Needless to say it was quite a shock, to have worked with a colleague day in and day out, and then suddenly to not have him there anymore.

In the face of the shocking news and loss, it is heartening to have The STAR family pulling together, in a unified effort to help Tony and his family through the confinement in hospital and then in his death.

My neighbor Lito Tacujan – there is but a low divider between the Sports and STARweek sections – wrote this touching piece on Tony, proving once again that underneath that gruff and grumpy exterior is the softie we all know is there.

* * *

One remembers Tony opening his number in The STAR’s “The Voice” contest with his back to the audience and going on to sing James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.”

Very few in the crowd knew the title of the song or how he fared out in the end. He was not one of the top three finishers, for sure. But I do remember him showing his spare back to the crowd and wearing a pair of red sneakers.

Tony Paño is gone, has passed on to a place where deadlines are a bit benign – oh, one wishes that word has given more freely to him!

But for sure, he would be the same. Hunched at his desk, banging away at his keyboard with one hand and walking around the newsroom favoring one leg. He would stay quiet, humble despite the myriad of work on sections he would close as complex as the man himself.

Nation, networks, tourism – he would do it efficiently, counting the characters, size of the font, length of articles, etc. etc.

That’s the slow fire in him, doing it quietly come sun and rain.

He loved movies, braving the traffic, pickpockets, peeved Muslim owners in Quiapo to get “pirated” copies of new films and the indies.

He was keen on the movies to the end, scribbling on a pad “Janitor” on his hospital bed, asking if the movie made an impact in the last Cinemalaya fest.

Tony is gone. Must be in his fifties if he had loved James Taylor. But it didn’t matter now that he was freed from a body ravaged by things less benign, more vicious.

He had his fire and rain. He loved that song, unaware the lyrics would slash through his soul.

“Been walking my mind to an easy time, my back turned towards the sun. Lord knows when the cold wind blows, it’ll turn your head around... Oh I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end. I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that I’d see you again.”

So long Tony, am sure the Voice there will be kinder.

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