Pharmaceutical firm exec saw peace, family in Cagayan de Oro
Like so many in this bustling city in Northern Mindanao, Antonio Paredes Jr., Tony Boy to friends and family, came from somewhere else.
Like so many, Tony Boy chose to build a career, a family, a life here.
And like so many, Tony Boy never thought that going to Kyla’s Bistro that Friday evening, that a beer and some easy time with his wife of 18 years, would end in tragedy. Not in the quiet, peaceful city that he had come to call home.
Tony Boy and his wife, Lilibeth, had just gone to a wake and by 11 p.m. on Friday, they were quietly sitting at one of the tables at Kyla’s, hanging out.
Tony Boy was a regular at Kyla’s and adjoining Candy’s, both part of a row of trendy restaurants known to middle-class patrons as The Strip.
That evening, Tony Boy was talking about future plans. He had just received a call early in the day from a Malaysian pharmaceutical firm. He had been offered to be that firm’s country manager which he was seriously considering accepting.
Away from family
The problem was, the job would take him away from his family, something this family man thought unbearable.
Tony Boy, the eldest to a brood of five, was born in Manila on Jan. 26, 1969, to Antonio Sr. and Lorna Lochon Paredes.
“He was very close to his siblings,” the elder Antonio said of his son.
“He was always checking up on them and on us even when he was already living in Cagayan,” he said.
Antonio Sr. said Tony Boy nurtured a special relationship with his brother, Jessie, now 35 and who has mild autism.
Jon Ramos, a friend who grew up with Tony Boy in Las Piñas, said Jessie would tag along when they were growing up.
“Jessie’s idol is his older brother,” Ramos said.
“Tony Boy and his family treated Jessie in a normal way and you better watch out if you make fun of Jessie,” he added.
Ramos said when Tony Boy relocated to Cagayan de Oro, Jessie would eagerly anticipate every visit of his “kuya.”
“When I see Jessie at his house, he always asks when his brother is arriving in Manila,” he said.
Antonio Sr. said Jessie was utterly devastated when his kuya died. “He can’t understand at first,” the elder Paredes said.
“When it started to sink in, he couldn’t stop crying,” said Antonio Sr. of Jessie.
He said Tony Boy chose to settle in Cagayan de Oro after he found his wife, Lilibeth. Antonio Sr. remembers Tony Boy was with Ciba-Geigy as a pharmaceutical sales representative in 1994 when Tony Boy was first assigned to Butuan City where he met Lilibeth, who hails from Cagayan de Oro.
Antonio Sr. said one day in 1995, Tony Boy asked him to meet Lilibeth’s parents. “Are you OK in Mindanao,” the father remembered asking his son.
Antonio Sr. said Tony Boy described Cagayan de Oro as “the most peaceful city in Mindanao.”
“It’s better than Las Piñas,” the younger Antonio would say. It was an impression that guests at his wedding at the Pryce Plaza Hotel would share.
Tony Boy loved his job but he hated being away from family. Tony Boy has three sons with Lilibeth—17-year-old Miguel, Paolo who is 14, and Marco, 11.
Just as he had been close to his siblings and parents, Tony Boy would constantly call home. Sometimes, he would call for no particular reason but just to hear their voices. And, Antonio Sr. said, his son seldom forgot to bring home “pasalubong.”
The father remembered being with his son for the last time on July 17 at the Shangri-La Hotel on Edsa. Tony Boy talked about buying shoes for one of his sons, Marco.
“I knew his flight was on that same day so I was surprised to see Marco wearing the shoes when I got here for the wake,” Antonio Sr. said. “I thought he (Tony Boy) did not have time,” he added.
“It is totally different when someone close to you gets killed,” said Ramos, a lifelong friend. “There is a human cost to these things,” he said. “People should never forget that.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.