Remembering my father, Digoy Fernandez

Good day everyone. I have been compiling video and written tributes for my dad. Many of these were shown or read during the 9 days novena. You can leave a comment down below if you would like to write a short message which I can then add to the post. This post will continously be a work in progress as I update it with new tributes. I have also been trying to splice the video tributes from the recorded masses.

“What is it like to be Digoy’s son?”I am asked, not often, but in regular intervals throughout my life.

To be Digoy’s son meant enduring 1 hour in the adoration chapel every week before he would take me and Angelo to 7-Eleven for ‘midnight snacks’ riding his super loud 3-wheeler Norkis bike. The hotdogs and vanilla cones were incentives to being patient in front of the Blessed Sacrament as I fought the urge to fall asleep.

To be Digoy’s son meant sharing him with all the other kids, especially during summer. The planter of all trees was also the community organizer. Tahanan Village was all about the summer Sportsfest. It was where I learned to compete in swimming, football and volleyball. But more importantly, I was generally recluse, and it was my dad’s natural charisma that made it easier for everyone to be friendly to me. He gave me friends.

To be Digoy’s son meant having to find ways to tread your own professional path. “I can’t always have dad around.” So I set sail and forged along and made a name for myself. But then finding out later on that dad had footprints in almost all my endeavors. “Ah, you’re Digoy’s son.” They would say. “You’re like him!” They would add. “You know, your dad was something else!” “Ah but you know, that’s Digoy.” So much for escaping my father. He was larger than life.

I could write a book about my mundane adventures with dad. The loudest in the room. The one with the 2L coke zero. The one with the 4 cellphones. The one who knows everyone’s cousin’s fraternity brother’s friend’s ex-girlfriend from Far East Bank. The one who gave without asking for anything in return — an often cliche line. But dad gave until he bled. He truly cared for others more than he did for himself.

In his final performance of bravado, he insisted to be sent home (he argued with his doctors — totally on character) and not be checked in for monitoring after his regular dialysis. That night, he called me and mom beside him to say his goodbyes. Dad was tired and wanted to be with Angelo so we let him go as we prayed with him. He slept at home through the night with Johnny Mathis in the background and when we saw him the next day, he had a smile on his face when he passed. This was his final lesson to me as a father – how to pass into the next life in peace.

Dr. Antonio Torralba

When my dad made the ultimate sacrifice as a true La Sallite and moved me out of Zobel to PAREF Southridge School for Boys, he made sure I had an exceptional set of teachers and guardians who took care of my brother and I.

Perhaps the most fascinating one of the bunch is Dr Antonio Torralba, a literal neighbor 7 blocks down the road, former Southridge School Principal and UA&P CAS Dean. He took care of me when we ventured to Batanes in the 90’s and again took me under his wing when I decided to pursue my MA in Education at the UA&P. Teachers Camp in Baguio with Doc T will always be the one of the biggest highlights of my college life.

Dad had the best pick of guardians for his kids. So it was only fitting for me to ask him to say a few words and in his signature fashion made it totally hilarious and memorable (video above!).

Bojo Fernandez

My cousin Bojo recalls the fond memories when my dad took him under his roof for many months when he joined me and Angelo in Southridge.

Ana Fernandez Rodriguez

I have a special relationship with my Ninang Ana outside the family dynamics, as she was also my professor when I was taking my Masters in Education back in 2002.

Winston Peckson

Paul Aquino

Ninong Paul is quite the character — when I heard about my dad’s tall tales in the past, I could never believe them. This is one of them and apparently, it’s true!

Anna Villalon

Anna B recounts the ‘Uncle Digoy litmus test experience’ for potential in laws during Sunday family reunions.

Renzo Villalon

My cousin Renzo’s spoken word version of his entry for my dad — this is from his compilation of #OneGoodThingADay — volume one has been compiled into a book which you can get here.

Missives from Chicago from Robert and Deedee and Ritchie Hernandez

Hello everyone,

Every time I visit Tito Digoy, I always have so many interesting, fun and random talks with him. It can be topics about what is going on in the world. Current affairs, animals, books, food, shoes and most of all just listening to him talk about family. Tito Digoy loves to tell stories and it does not matter what it’s about because he just had a passion for sharing his life. I will never forget your huge shopping spree here in Chicago more than 30 years ago when you bought 10 pairs of Florsheim shoes and at least 20 boxed Vintage Transformers from Toys R US.
Jayvee and Angelo are lucky kids!!!!

I will miss you greatly Tito and if you don’t mind can you order Angelo and I either a GIGA or TERA fries BBQ flavor from Potato Corner. Please I hope there is Potato Corner in heaven!!!!

God Bless!
Ritchie from Chicago

Hi everyone.

I am Deedee Carrillo Hernandez, sister of Angelle.

After my college graduation, I migrated to USA.  I did not have a chance to meet Digoy before they got married.

One of Digoy’ s business trip in USA, without my sister Angelle.  He paid us a surprise visit.  Digoy called my husband to pick him up at O’hare airport for stopover in Chicago, Illinois.  I was os happy and amazed with his fine gesture to meet us in person just for a few hours.

Digoy and my husband dropped by Mt Sinai Hospital where I was working.  We had breakfast at the Hospital Cafeteria which was catered by Marriot Corporation, very presentable like a swanky restaurant.  Digoy and Robert enjoyed to their hearts content hot complete breakfast cooked at their requests.

Digoy you will be greatly missed.  Rest in peace my brother-in-law.  You’re ina better place now.  No more pains and worries.  Angelle you know you can always count on Ate Deedee.

This is Robert Hernandez, Deedee’s husband.

First time I met Digoy when he came over here in Illinois to meet Dee and I back in 1977 or after.  He mentioned that he was connected with Far East Bank and I mentioned I worked with Sycip, Gorres Velayo CPAs and I was auditing Far East Bank in 1969.  I believed he did not reply if he was connected with the Bank at that time.  I mentioned I met his uncle JOBO Fernandez.

When he came he brought a book entitled “ Where Asia Wears A Smile” which encourage me to go back and see the Philippines environment.  It was a book which features places and sites in three big islands of the Philippines.  I noticed Digoy always carry a book to read.  I thought he maybe an avid reader which I am not.

I really didn’t have much bonding with Digoy because he is always by himself or with Angelo looking for food.  Angelo and Digoy were always together and inseparables.

Due to the pandemic, we were not able to visit Digoy and family this year.  We hope to see them in the coming years.

‘Come Saturday Morning’ by the Sandpipers was one of the songs I truly associate with my dad. The song signalled the weekend, which I heavily associate with the best memories with dad, mom and my brother Angelo. The weekend meant random trips to the farm, Makati (QUAD, SM Makati and Park Square), and Alabang Country Club.

I will always be thankful for a wonderful childhood growing up with dad. I realized that dad’s passing left me with no bitterness. No words left unsaid. Just sadness from remembering how far and high he took me on his shoulders, without me knowing.

A message from Ed Zialcita

Email from Susie Yap:

Before Tito Panlilio asked me to be part of the Far East Bank sharers, I had gathered some thoughts about your Dad from my siblings. I would like to share them with you and your Mom because I didnt incorporate their thoughts in my piece about your Dad, the banker.

Lilit Lim
I was pretty close to a number of Digoy’s batch from AIM as I played golf with their group in the Alumni Tournaments many times. He was obviously popular among them, and was very active in keeping his Class together after graduation.
He went out of his way to introduce them to me whenever possible which, I thought , was  very nice of him. As a result, his friends looked at me as a younger  brother of sorts.
I can never be as much a social animal as he was.

Josemari Lim
One of Digoy’s most positive traits was he was very charming. Whenever I would run into him, he was always very charming and engaging. He would regale me with many many stories. I wondered which of them were true, but anyway…..

I did work with a few of his AIM classmates and by and large, they liked him and were charmed by him. Mayabang nga, but his yabang was harmless

Vicky Lim Ortega

When we were newly married, I lived in Tahanan Village along Poinsettia Street where Digoy happened to live. He did make it known to me that he owned four lots.

He always made it a point to welcome new residents into the village and I was no exception .  I would see him walking around regularly but since my work schedule was so busy, I had little time to socialize in the community.  However, when I would bump into him at Church or the Family reunions, he would tell me, “ Hey, you know your dog barked at me!” I had several excited dachsunds and a Dalmatian during that time. I wonder which dog he was referring to?

Babot Ledesma

Thank you for sharing these beautiful memories of Digoy.   Your line, “He managed by ‘walking around'”  is so true!   I really remember how OFTEN he would pop up at our office—with a bright smile on his face—- to say ‘hello’ to Laling and everyone else!   I had very little direct contact with him and yet I remember him so well—-warm and friendly, that even one as socially awkward as I could feel comfortable in his presence right away.  He had no ‘airs’ at all.    I experienced him exactly as you described him whenever he visited the bank branches—-so down-to-earth, the guy next door and everyone’s friend.

Peachy Tala Sunico’s video tribute

Peachy was one of dad’s “adopted daughters” of the village.

Short stories from Rey and Mau Leuterio

An email from Tess Reyes

Dearest Digoy,

This message is not a farewell but more of a “so long, dear friend.”  I never thought through all these years that I will write something to you that you will never physically read.  So many years have passed by and  we never heard from each other …. thanks to Facebook, I must say!  I’m sorry that it is short-lived since I enjoyed ALL of your postings!

With all the accomplishments you have achieved, seeing pictures of you and your family on FB makes me feel even more proud of you!  You and Angelle have always been the darling power couple through all these years; at least, from the very first time you stalked Angelle at the Secretarial Pool on the Faculty floor of AIM (and many more after), our Christmas carolings, your very beautiful wedding, and all the students/secretaries socials that were pure joy!  They were all sweet memories for me until I left AIM, worked for other companies and finally, the brave adventure to the U.S.A.

I dubbed you “A Man for All Seasons” since you have never been afraid to face challenges, be it in your studies, your sweet courtship of Angelle, your career, your financial ventures; most of all, raising a family, facing daunting health issues and the ultimate sacrifice of losing Angelo.  With a heavy heart, you came out triumphant in all of them!  Still, even in death …. you have battled them all, Sir Digoy.  “God Be With You ’till We Meet Again.”

Angelle, Jayvee & family … stay strong for each other.  Keep up the Faith, be brave through it all.  Your valiant, sweet Angels (Digoy & Angelo) will  never be too far from you.  I do see both their endearing smiles etched on the face of the moon!  Let them be your guiding stars, as well.  

Sending lots of love & prayers.
Warmest regards, always,Tess DORIA Reyes

Sunshine on My Shoulders was one of dad’s go-to songs by John Denver. It’s the one song I would enjoy playing on repeat from his ‘Greatest Hits’ album.

Dad gave me the gift of music. My first tape deck, first Walkman, first CD player and all my guitars came from him and Mommy Darling. I remember weekends with dad spending time at RJ Guitars while we tried out all the different Fenders and he would school me on how the sound of a Telecaster differed from the Jaguar and Stratocaster.

Fun anecdotes from Mito

A tribute from Rebecca Jose

Good evening.  The past few days we have heard from both Digoy’s family and friends that he was everybody’s friend and/or relative and how extensive his network was.  For those who do not know me, I am Becca Favis José, here tonight as part of the Far East Bank Trust Company family in the late 70s.  I am also here to also illustrate my various connections in the quilt that made up Digoy’s colorful life network……

First link – our moms. Digoy’s mom, tita Lunggay, was one of the forever BFFs of my mom Medong Ledesma Favis from their grade school days in Assumption Iloilo.  They would get together regularly and perform at the Assumption veladas on Old Girls Day.

Second link – Assumption.  Digoy’s sister, Ana, was my classmate in Assumption since grade school.  We just celebrated our Golden Jubilee in 2018.  Ana’s daughter Patricia was also my student when i was a Grade School Teacher in Assumption San Lorenzo.

Third link –  Family. Digoy and I are part of the Ledesma clan, different branches but same clan.  I believe it was Simon Villalon who showed the huge volume of the Ledesma family tree during his tribute the other night.  We are but small specks in that large volume.  When I asked Ana which branch they belonged to, she promptly replied “Digoy would know!”  

Fourth link –  Work. Digoy, my late husband Dado and I were officemates in Far East Bank.  When I joined the bank, he was one of those who made me comfortable right away.  Digoy was in the Branch Banking Group.  Dado was in the Account Management Group.  I was in the Advertising and Promotions Group.  We would enjoy meal breaks and after-work activities such as pelota and dominoes.  It was here where I got to know more of the person who was Digoy.

Fifth link – My husband.  Aside from being my husband’s classmate since Prep, Digoy was part of the La Salle group of bosom buddies who called themselves The Fugitives, a name that was apparently coined by Digoy.  His partners in crime were the late Mari Villanueva Vargas, my late husband Eduardo “Dado” Diokno José, Charlie Rufino, Bertie Lim, and Noli Gonzalez.    Dado would regale me with stories about their escapades and adventures during their school days.  This connection was rekindled as they prepared for their Golden Jubilee (LiaCom Class ’71) where they renamed their class as the Golden Toughies.  Digoy was ever-present during the wake of Dado last 2018, and was one of those who posted a heartwarming goodbye in FB.

Sixth link – Church. Being such a close friend of my late husband, we asked Digoy to be one of the baptismal godfathers of our eldest child, Niña.

So you see from our parents, to us and to our eldest daughter, Digoy had somehow touched our lives.  He always had a positive aura about him, “holding court” to borrow a line from previous tributes, with his juicy chismis, or even just a very cheerful and heartfelt “Hello”.  When he got sick, we stormed the heavens relentlessly.  We were all one with him in prayer through his illness, through his crisis when his son Angelo left so suddenly.  We continue to be with him and his family at this time as we bid farewell and to this true friend and gentleman.  Thank you, Digoy, for touching our lives.  

Thank you for this opportunity to be a part of this ritual.  Our condolences to Angelle, Jayvee and the rest of the family.  Digoy, am sure you are carousing up there with Mari and Dado.  Watch over us in every step towards survival here on earth until we meet again. Godspeed…….Love, Becca

Words from Noel Arellano, Digoy’s nephew

For some reason, Uncle Digoy’s passing stirred up these particular memories…

Of rides and a girl.

I remember a time when your mom and dad were still starting out as a couple (sometime in the early 70s – yes, ancient times). One day, my Mom and I were in DD/MD’s house on P. Guevarra St. when your dad asked me to accompany him to Laguna to fetch your mom.  We took the dark blue BMW 2002 out of that large, dark, cavernous garage  and proceeded down Shaw Blvd., then EDSA, and then South Superhighway. At that time, South Super (as SLEX was known
then) knew neither potholes nor traffic. That 45 minute drive was considered a road trip, cutting across hectares and hectares of cogon fields where there are buildings and subdivisions today. He would tell stories. I recall him telling the stories, words rolling off the tongue, but not the stories themselves. But he did fill up those 45 minutes effortlessly.

Detouring for a moment.

I wonder if that was the same BMW that he ranted about years later. He claimed that your mom burned out the transmission because she drove down SLEX stuck in first gear.

Getting back on track.

So we arrive at your mom’s place. I am introduced to your Lolo and Lola and fed a little merienda before we start our return to San Juan. This time your dad barely speaks to me as he is so entranced with your mom. This was the first time I met your mom and I realize why he
would travel all that distance to court her.

Fast forward …

To the mid-80s (less ancient times). This time, your mom and dad pay my Mom and me a visit in SFO. I had a free day from school and was tasked to take them both to Monterey on a sightseeing tour. We took this trip in my then-new Nissan Sentra. As was his character, he
would assume his role as airtime-filler for the trip out of the city, and, once we got to Monterey, as tour guide for your mom. On the way home, he would continue his storytelling.

Effortlessly. Again.

Just to let you know that there are cloudy Fernandez memories of your dad that do not involve food, but rather, cars.

Before I forget,


Another one of dad’s John Denver favorites that I inherited — Rhymes and Reasons is probably dad’s favorite “hippie song” which serves as a reminder to everyone that if they lose their way, the children and the flowers are the lamp posts to finding your home. Which explains how dad was always a child at heart and loved nature ferociously.

A message from mom

40th Day Videos from the Family

Here are messages from the two kids and mom for dad’s 40th day mass:

By Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast and sitting Techbology Editor for The Philippine STAR.

He is also an EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.

2 replies on “Remembering my father, Digoy Fernandez”

Hi Jayvee,

I was checking an old (2016) post where you gave tips to succeed on blogging. clicked on your url and glad that your site is still online.

My dad battled covid last April and it was a roller coaster experience. He insisted of home care, being confined to a hospital or sent to an isolation facility might be his trip to the next life without saying proper goodbyes. Tatay survived but it was scary.

As we ourselves and our parents got old, saying our goodbyes is closer to reality and must weigh our options early on how we want it done.

My condolences to you and your family.

Thanks Sonnie. Yeah these thoughts have been on my mind for some time. As we grow older, we take on new roles supporting our parents. Writing for me is therapeutic so I will compile my thoughts in due time.

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