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Palaweño businessman, ANTONIO TAN ONGHOCGAN was finally laid to rest this July 23, Thursday morning in a solemn funeral ceremony attended by family, friends and relatives. Fondly known as “Tony”, he passed in peace at the age of 81.
Led by family and wife of 55 years, Antonia – Tony was brought to his final resting place at the Puerto Princesa Memorial Park in San Jose. Inasmuch as COVID-19 health protocols allowed in the conduct of funeral rites, mourners who are at high risk joined the convoy to the cemetery without going down the vehicle while only a limited number was encouraged to be in attendance. For those who are in Manila and other countries, they witnessed the ceremony through a live video platform to virtually bid their final goodbyes.
The final prayer for Tony was led by Bishop Socrates Mesiona, who reminded the crowd to look to an examined life of selflessness and generosity that the late businessman lived.
“King of Glass”
Born in November 1, 1942, Tony grew up suffering the debilitating effects of warfare, economic collapse and political upheavals in China. Thus the story of their family’s migration to the Philippines particularly in San Fernando, Pampanga.
The journey to Palawan started for Tony when he partnered with MAE Marketing Corporation, a company that exported marine and natural products like sea cucumbers (balatan) a food processed as smoke/boil dried, cashew nuts, (kasuy) and almaciga tree for resin exported to Hongkong, Singapore and other countries.
Through the years as the corporation experienced troubles, Tony resolved in starting a business of his own.
After assessing the needs of the market at that time – Palawan Glass Supply was born.
Onghocgan pioneered the establishment of the company as a solutions provider for those who needed windows, doors, glass panels and other glass and aluminum products in Palawan. ophthalmologist Jesus Ong witnessed how his father toiled through the hard days to make the business work. “Grabe ang work ethics niya, gigising ng maaga, late na matutulog. Ma-kwento but he really went out of his way to help other people.” For 40 years, Palawan Glass Supply still stands as the go-to shop for construction needs.
Remembering “Boss Tony”
Before the funeral, former and current employees spoke to share their best memories of their “Boss Tony”. They describe him as a very hands on and kind boss who treats his employees as family.
Ricardo Tabane tearfully recalls the one advice from his boss that prompted him to pursue bigger things: “Hindi ka habang buhay na trabahador. Kaya kailangan magsumikap.”
Ernie Sacayan expressed his appreciation that it was through Boss Tony that his children finished school. “Hindi niya ako pinabayaan kaya ang mga anak ko ay nakapag-aral. Isang lapit lang at nagbibigay siya agad ng tulong. Si Boss Tony marunong makisama at hindi nagtataas ng boses”.
Frosia Rivera recalls that Tony is caring to the staff and makes sure there’s open communication in the operations. “Sobrang wala na talaga akong makitang ganitong klaseng boss, I’ve worked in many companies, kaya I really treasure Sir Tony and his family.”
Meanwhile, former employeee Lhea Libarra is grateful for her boss for allowing opportunities for them to grow in finding a job in government. “Natulungan nia kami sa ibang opportunity, hindi lang kami empleyado but a family. Hindi ko makakalimutan ang mga magagandang alaala, sobrang thankful kami at hindi namin pababayaan si misis (Antonia).”
Aborlan Mayor Celsa Adier expressed shock after hearing of her friend’s passing. It was only due the COVID-19 crisis that she was not able to get in touch with Tony who she considers as someone who has helped her greatly when she lost her spouse.
Former City Mayor Edward Hagedorn shares that Tony is a rare kind. “Kokonti lng talaga mga tao dito na minahal ko at hinahangaan. Sa kanyang pagpanaw ay napakalungkot para sa akin at para sa aking pamilya. Lahat kami at ang mga taga Puerto Princesa, sinasabi na napakabait na tao ni Tony.”
Neighbor Kagawad Siot Palarca will not forget Tony’s help to their barangay. “Mahal ka ng Diyos dahil marunong ka magmahal. Please intercede and pray for us.”
Choy Tan states that it is not only the Onghocgan family that lost a great man but Puerto Princesa as a whole. “Napakamatulungin, mapagpakumbaba at kailan man, wala kang makikitang ere sa kanya. Kung lahat ng tao sa mundo kagaya niya, walang gyera ang mundo. Simula ng makilala ko siya sa MAE sa San Pedro – wala siyang inapi o nilamangan na tao – ang lahat na kanyang kakilala, kaibigan kahit na hindi kamag-anak gusto niya tulungan para umunlad.”
Having reached success and prosperity, in his ripe age Tony would still report to his other established business, the four – storey A & A Hotel in National Highway and Wescom Road. “Minsan siya pa rin nagbubuhat ng luggages pag kulang ang bellboy, kung minsan sia naglilinis at nagdidilig ng halaman. hangang-hanga mga staff… kahit nasa estado na angat na sa buhay, but was still doing manual work until the end.”