Ok, I was apparently the last to hear the news about the passing of Antonio Hidalgo. For those who may not know him, Sir Tony was a prolific writer and head honcho of Milflores Publishing. Among many other things, he was the husband of a well-known professor in UP Diliman, Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo.
I was reading today's newspaper when I saw a tributary article for him. It came as a shock to me, although I got wind of the news a few weeks ago that he was hospitalized. I don't know Sir Tony that well; in fact, I don't even know if he remembered we even met 8 years ago. So what's the fuss?
I was then a fledgling journalist for BusinessWorld (circa 2003) when I was assigned to do a feature story on cockfighting as a special piece for our upcoming travel magazine. I can't remember how I came to research about Sir Tony's connections with sabong, but I did and I found myself knocking on his doorstep one afternoon in his house in Greenhills. I remember the place being too dark and brooding and filled with books in almost all corners. I sort of imagined what it would be like to have folks like the Hidalgos who were intellectual, prolific and considered as celebrities in the academe. I met the old man who was quite as robust as any man in his early 30s.
I remembered shaking to my skivvies when I interviewed him. Heck, I didn't even know anything about sabong, nor can I be considered the intellectual type to be able to talk at least within his level of genius. Nevertheless, Sir Tony was like a patient teacher who explained to me the nuances of cockfighting and his apparent love for the sport. He even gave me two complimentary copies of his books on the subject, signed with well wishes.
We may not have talked long, nor did I visit him again after that, but I still felt the profound sadness of his passing. He was one of those few people who left a mark on me, despite the brief meeting we had. True enough, one of his dedications was about a short, but meaningful note on pursuing writing against all odds.
It was a privilege to know the great man that was Antonio A. Hidalgo. Until our next interview, Sir Tony.