Last night, I was browsing through Gerry Alanguilan's pictures of the Komikon in the Komikero website, wondering why Vincent Kua, Jr., was not able to attend the event. Then, in a few moments, I received a text message from Randy Valiente, telling me that Vincent Kua had died on the previous night, apparently of stroke. I literally had goosebumps since one moment, I was thinking about Vincent, and then the next, learning that he had died.
Like many komiks fans, I had been a follower of Vincent's works in komiks during his heyday as writer/illustrator in the 70s and 80s. My sister Weng and I would usually spend a portion of our school allowance, renting komiks that contained many of Vincent's wonderful stories. I specially loved his horror stories, as well as his regular Pokwang strips, while my sis usually anticipates his love stories.
When I became older, I sought out Vincent to know him personally. Through some komiks friends, I was able to get Vincent's phone number. I called him up and we had a nice conversation, and he even invited me in his home in Pasig. This was in 2003. From then on, we had a regular "kumustahan" and he frequently visited my shop in Cubao, after getting his salary in Atlas. We usually dine at Nena's, the oldest restaurant in the Cubao area, where Vincent loved the Puto Bumbong. One time, he went over to visit me and he brought along his friend, Randy Valiente. I found that Randy was himself a writer and a talented illustrator, and one of Vincent's closest friends, although he looked so young. I later learned from Vincent that Randy had been writing for komiks even as a high school student.
One time, in my shop, Vincent noticed that I had an stethoscope and a sphygmomanometer, since I was diagnosed with elevated blood pressure and had been regularly monitoring my BP. I asked him if he would like to check his BP, and he said: "Sige i-check mo magugulat ka" . His BP reading was, as I remember accurately, 180 over 110, which was very high for a normal person, so I asked him if he was feeling unwell. He smiled and said that he was fine, and that it was his normal BP, and that when it got lower than that he felt dizzy. He also mentioned that he always got a reading of 180 over 110 everytime he had his BP checked.
But then, being concerned about him, I told him to have a check-up. He said there was no need, it was just that there were people like him that had "normal" high BP reading.
Now, he had died of stroke, and I felt great regret of not having been able to convince him to go to the doctor then. I will miss him so much, his humor, his wisdom, his gentleness, and his humility. He is one of the truly great artists in our local komiks industry. I am very honored and priviledged that even for only a short period of time, I became his friend.