Clive Percival Audin, Keith Carrington & Hilton Arneaud
Paying Respect to Lewicito 'Cito' Velasquez
Tributes at Funeral Service
April 12, 2006
Clive Percival Audin
I am a Masman, wire-bender and designer. I also represent Trinidad and Tobago outside in America. Mr. Cito Velasquez was my dear good friend, brother, family and everything you could think about. He was one of the guys who helped me to be a better wire-bender. I remember Christmas time in 1972, he sent Mr. Stephen Lee Heung home by me because Mr. Lee Heung wanted a wire-bender. At the time I told myself I was finished with Mas because in those days people used you and sometimes with no thanks. I told Mr. Lee Heung he had to give me a certain amount of money. He left and came back with the money. I asked him who sent him to me and he told me Cito Velasquez. I left Old Years Day and I went by Stephen. I met Cito, Carlyle Chang and Mrs. Lee Heung, Stephen's wife. That night they gave me a little coin in crepe paper and told me as long as I have that, I will always have money. But I went further with what they told me. The prize for the King and Queen Mas in 1972 was a trip to Switzerland. I said to them, "All yuh going to Switzerland." That year I made the King and Queen for Stephen Lee Heung. They were "King of the Midnight Sun" and "Snow Maiden". The king was Tony Serville and the queen was Johanne Lassalle-Suares. We won double for the first time on stage with the band "Russian Fairy Tales" from Stephen Lee Heung. I went to New York that same year and I went to Switzerland. To this day they call me 'Switzerland'. There are a lot of things people do not know about Cito. They only know things like the gimmicks and the jokes he made. Cito was one of the main people who helped tremendously with the Carnival, not only in Barataria, San Juan, but throughout Trinidad and the whole world.
I am a bandleader, designer and producer of Mount Hope Connection. I acquired all my skills and knowledge from deceased Cito Velasquez. He was also related to me on my mother's side of the family. I admired Cito more for his humour than his skills. In learning, a little humour helps you digest things better, especially when you are getting trouble to get the right concept. His wire skills were one of the best that I have dealt with. I stuck more to the cardboard because it was easier. My deceased father was specialized in cardboard as well. My father was Lorry Carrington, and he started with Jason Griffith and them in Belmont.
Cito was one of the most pleasurable people I dealt with in Carnival. With all the rigors of the Carnival, he kept a cool head. He reminded me we were paying money too easily to musicians. He said in his days if you charged him fifty dollars to play for him, when you come for the money, he might only have thirty or thirty-five dollars to give you. That was accepted because you needed the money. He said they are calling thousands of dollars now and we are paying it up front. I explained to him that it had to change with the times. He was like my father; they never agreed with the music. I think the cost of music is out of hand now. However, we need a certain type of music with modern high tech equipment, to be on the road with the amount of people we have in bands now.
I think Cito was a wonderful person. He did what he had to do in the best way he could. He had a love for human beings and he lived life to the fullest. He caused a lot of confusion amongst his friends, and he would just sit in the background and laugh. He really enjoyed doing things like that. For instance, he would see somebody coming in the yard and say, "That is the fella you ill speak yesterday? Look the man coming." But it was Cito who really wanted to send a message indirectly to the man, so he used you as a vehicle to do so. He got kicks from things like that. In the end he would say, "Is just joke ah making. But yuh really have something for me years now and I could do with it now."
I think Cito was unfairly treated by society on the whole. Every year around this time when I collect my prize money, I would pass and drop some change and during the year I will drop a little to help him with his medication. The government should show more interest in people like Cito. People like them did a lot of service for the country. They were soldiers in culture. They didn't march or die with guns. They had their own ammunition they dealt with. As a society, we need to get down on the people who have the power to do something for the people who do this type of work. To me they get nothing for their work. Cito needed a lot of help. He needed medication and a few people assisted him. I gave him an award last year and I feel good about it because my timing was good.
I have been in the Sailor Mas since I was eight years old. That would make it about fifty-two to fifty-three years now. from since I was eight years old. I was blessed to be amongst these people and I learned a lot from them. I was also rewarded this year by getting 'Band of the Year' and 'Best Designer' in the Small Bands Category. It was a great loss, but life has to go on with or without anyone of us. It is sad for those who were around him and didn't take the opportunity to learn. I could say I took everything from him. I am proud to be around to continue his legacy.
I was Cito's friend and neighbour as well. I live just up the street. I grew up in his yard helping him make Mas. He was a very good artist and wire-bender. His Mas was one of the best. I do not feel that it would ever have Mas like that again because he was one of the best wire-benders. I think Mr. Geraldo Vieira learned to bend wire from Cito Velasquez. I do not think we will ever get that kind of Mas again.
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