Paying Respect to Lewicito 'Cito' Velasquez
Tributes at Wake
April 09, 2006
Goodnight everyone. I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to Cito's friends and family. I know we have had a great loss. I knew Cito from since in 1952 when I was fourteen years old. I remember whenever I visited his yard here in Barataria, it was always very clean. It was a dirt yard and it was cleaned everyday for the purpose of drawing out your shape to bend the wire on the ground. I watched the whole process for about a year. When I was learning pattern making at Furness, I asked Cito if I could come up here and learn how to bend wire. I got his permission and that's how I started coming here and bending wire. I didn't have to do any drawing then. I just took the wire on the roll and started to bend whatever they wanted.
I remember the year I asked 'Big John' if he would bring "Flowers and Fruits' with me. He told me it wasn't a problem. Cito couldn't take part in it because he was working and bending a grasshopper and other insects for Tokyo that year. Later on 'Big John' came and told me he had a problem. He told me his problem was he got a job on a boat and he had to leave. It turned out that Cito and I had to bring out the band. I told Cito he would bring the fruits and I would bring the flowers. We went ahead with that Mas in 1959. At the time I didn't want to use any swansdown because I wanted everything to look realistic. They used the swansdown and when I saw it I told them we had to take it off because it didn't look real. I wanted the people's mouths to dribble when they see it. "Flowers and Fruits" turned out to be a success in the end.
That year (1959) when Desperados was on Charlotte Street, San Juan All Stars came up there with "Battle Cry" and a fight started with cutlass. Bottles and stones were pelting in the streets like rain. I remember that clash like if it was yesterday. When I saw what was happening I was shouting, "Cito wait, come back". Cito said, "Boy I gone". He ran down to the railway and ran up the train line straight to Barataria. Stanley Warner who was from Rhapsody, the steelband that was playing for us, told me not to run. I stayed and helped pound and sink back out Despers pans because they were inside out from the fight. Stanley tuned the pans so we could go on stage and Desperados as well. When the thing quiet down we went on stage and the band won. The year after that I brought out my own band and Cito came out with his band too. We went on after that and we remained friends till his last days.
Cito and I didn't see each other everyday. Whenever I pass here I would call out to him and he would shout, "Geraldo how yuh going…wait". I would stop and come up on the steps to meet him and we would chat and laugh about different things. He was always jovial and never stopped giving jokes. Cito Velasquez was someone who did a lot for the country and the whole Mas Fraternity. He was still bending wire before he passed. I saw wire hanging up on the wall which means he has left his mark. Sadly I have to say I couldn't go to the hospital when he collapsed but I was able to visit him the following day. When I saw him he recognized me and he raised his head in acknowledgement and mumbled a few words. I told him he shouldn't talk, he should take it quietly and he would regain his strength by the following day and say what he wanted to say when we see him. In my prayers for Cito I said, "Lord give him a little chance. Please Lord, only you can help him and bring him through, only for the sake of Cito. He is all alone in the house". Cito was one person I used to always pass in to see and sometimes for his birthday I would send up things for him.
About a week or two ago Cito called me and said, "Geraldo, I couldn't get you all the time, but I called to congratulate you". I thanked him and made sure he was ok but I found he was sounding a little slow in his speech. I told him Stephen Lee Heung called me just before he called. He said, "I want to go and see him Geraldo, pass for me". I was just about to pass for Cito when I heard he went to the hospital in Mount Hope.
Even though we all have to go, his passing still came as a shock. He will be greatly missed and we will always have to talk about him. I wish him all God's blessing. I think he is with the lord now. I hope maybe I will meet him someday. I also hope it's not too soon for me because I feel I still have some time to go. Lewicito 'Cito' Velasquez was my very good buddy who worked with me for some time. I was shocked he went just like that, but that is life. I hope the cultural aspect of it does a lot for him. I will see what we can do from the NCBA side. They called and asked about assisting and I gave them Shortpants phone number. What can we truly do for a man when he is dead? We have to do for him when he is alive. I do not believe in death. To me it is the end of life and that's when we part. I am sorry he left us so early. He is with the Lord now and we are here suffering.
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