Sports Eye

Goodbye JunV

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.

LAST January 22, I was stunned to learn from my friend Passky that our good buddy Juanito M. Velasco (fondly called by his relatives, friends and media colleagues as JunV) suffered a heart attack on January 19 and was confined at Villaflor Hospital in Dagupan City, fell into coma and was at ICU (intensive care unit) room. It really shocked me because JunV, an avid boxing follower and ardent fan of our boxing icons Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao and Donnie “Ahas’ Nietes, had just called me morning of January 18 and wanted to know which channel would feature January 20 WBA welterweight title bout between Pacman and Adrien Broner.

JunV failed to watch Pacquio’s fight this time and died on January 25, two days before his 73rd birthday. As of this writing, his remains lay at Garden of Eden in Calasiao, and according to his son Junjun, interment will be in the morning of February 2 at Mt. Zion in Bonuan Boquig, Dagupan City, not far from his residence.

I have a lot of recollections about JunV in the field of politics, club organizations and principally in sports. Honestly, I would not have met some national personalities like former Pangasinan Gov. Oscar Orbos, Congressman Leopoldo Bataoil, former PNP chiefs Hermogenes Ebdane, Jr. and Arturo Lomibao, the Duque families of Dagupan City and Ermin Garcia, Jr. of Sunday Punch, to name some, were it not for him.  Still, most of my interactions with him were in sports. Yes, we were both lovers of sports. According to him, his favorite sport is boxing and cycling, but surprisingly not basketball. He said basketball is for tall people like the Americans and Europeans, not us.

I will never forget my first of my four meetings with former world champion Juan Manuel Marquez on November 22, 2006 when I was in McAllen, Texas and managed to interview the champ. After my interview, I called JunV and immediately passed on my phone to Marquez for an interview by JunV. What transpired in their conversation was printed in the Manila Bulletin the following day and JunV proudly showed it to me when I came back to the Philippines.

JunV is so well-known in the media circle, not only in the province but throughout the country being a former columnist of the respected Manila Bulletin. He attained the prestigious position as director of National Press Club in addition to having been elected top honcho of the province’ Pangasinan Press Club decades ago. He was also an adviser/consultant of our province’ various tabloids the likes of Regional Examiner and recently chairman of the board of Capitol Post newspaper. He was one of the former editors and columnist of this paper and his column was titled “Think About It” for countless years before moving to another tabloid. In fact, he’s the best of all my tutors in sports writing. Provincial sports czar Modesto Operania described him as a humble, benevolent and influential person. He’s absolutely right.

He’s survived by his spouse Catherine, children Junjun, Jacqueline, Kharmina, Gilbert and Chipchip, grandchildren Abigail, Chester, Jason and Gian and brothers Dante, Norman, Pio Jr., Noel, Orpheus, sisters Julie, Susan, Armila and Fiameta.

Goodbye JunV, my tutor, my adviser, the generous, humble and my best friend. I will pray for the eternal repose of your soul. Rest in peace.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. II TIMOTHY 4: 7

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