He, my dad, Juan Antonio Velazquez Tolentino, was born into a very poetically, and musically talented family. His father, Arturo (Turi ) Parrilla, was a well established guitarist, and orchestra leader in his own right, in Puerto Rico. He was also a distinguished musician with the Rafael Hernandez orchestra in New York. Mr. Hernandez was a highly respected composer, and musician, not only in PR, but also throughout Latin America.
My dad’s mother, Maria , and grandpa Parrilla, divorced when my dad was but a young lad. She established residency with her brother Antonio Velazquez Tolentino, who assisted with the rearing of my dad. My dad finally met his biological father, at age eleven. He was shocked, but in awe, at the realization of having such a famous person for a father. Through the years, they developed a strong father-son relationship.
As a young adult, my dad established himself not only academically, but also as a standout athlete. He ran track, played basketball, and boxed. He was gifted with a photographic memory as well. In time, he became a very popular musician in his home town, having composed several musical projects. He also wrote a jingle for a very popular soft drink known as,”Coco Rico”.
In his early 20s, he gave his heart to the Lord, gave up his promising music career, and became a minister, a position he held for sixty years. During that period, he composed numerous gospel songs, one of which is well-known in the US and Latin America. I had the honor of recording that song, “La Historia De Millones”, (The Story of Millions) which was released in the 90s.
As a father to this writer, and my siblings, he was the most loving, nurturing, and benevolent of all men. Was he strict?….. yes he was, but whenever he had to discipline one of us, he would always say, “I need to do this, but remember that I do love you with all my heart”. His love for his family was beyond reproach.
My dad went to be with the Lord in 1994, but what a legacy he left for us. He was a fantastic role model, a mentor, teacher, and close friend. I do miss his great sense of humor, the way he played his guitar, his attentiveness, and hearing his voice, but most of all, his dedication to God, and his family. That is why on this father’s day, I want the world to become acquainted with, “my hero, my dad”. I love you Papito.