Biography

Omni Instructor

Anton Miguel Mapua Osmeña Biography

By his mother, Cherry

 

Baby Anton’s first visit to Baguio, in the arms of his dad, Mike

Anton Miguel Mapua Osmeña was born at 8:55 a.m. on Sept. 20, 1982 in Polymedic General Hospital, Mandaluyong City, Philippines. He was a beautiful baby boy with a shock of dark brown hair, weighing 7 lbs., and was delivered via caesarian section by Dr. Efren “Boy” Vasquez.

His mother, Theresa “Cherry” Mapua-Osmeña, was 26 years old while his father, Michael “Mike” Ablaza Osmeña was 32 when Anton was born. At the time of his birth, Anton’s older brother and eventual best buddy, Ramon Luis, was only 1 year and 1 month old. Ramon was so excited to have a baby brother.

His paternal grandparents are the late Atty. Ramon Michael Osmeña who hailed from Cebu and the late Dr. Dolores “Dolly” Ablaza-Osmeña from Bulacan. His maternal grandparents are Luis Loanco Mapua from Manila, also now deceased, and Flora “Lula” Gomez-Nepomuceno Mapua originally from Angeles City, but now resides in the U.S.

Anton’s class photo in Southridge PAREF School

Cherry and Mike raised their two boys in a lovely three-bedroom split-level home in Alabang Hills, which is walking distance from the village park. Since Ramon was so attached to his yaya (nanny) Nanan, his mother got Anton his own yaya, Mollet, a young college-educated lady who filled Anton’s life with a lot of love and affection.

In 1985 when Anton was 3 years old, his mom, brother Ramon, their two yayas, his grandmother Lula, and aunt Lisa Mapua, migrated to Honolulu, Hawaii, to get away from the uncertain political winds that were brewing in the Philippines. Martial law was stifling life in Manila and there was talk of a revolution.

Happy times in Hawaii. L-R: Anton, dad Mike, and older bro Ramon.

Anton and his brother had a happy, laid-back childhood in Hawaii and enjoyed the island lifestyle. Every afternoon, they would walk to Waikiki beach and wade in the water, fish at the nearby Alawai Canal, have picnics at the cool hills of St. Louis Heights and enjoyed visits to the Honolulu Zoo, Waikiki Aquarium, and Sealife Park. When Ramon turned 5, he started kindergarten at St. Patrick Catholic School in Kapahulu. Anton would look forward to picking his brother up from school and playing together when they got home.

In 1986, the infamous People Power Revolution toppled the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines and by 1987, the family returned back to the Philippines. Ramon enrolled in Prep at Southridge PAREF School in Alabang and a year later, Anton joined his brother as a bright and precocious 6-year-old.

Anton’s father, Mike, was a banker with Citibank N.A. while his mother started a business called Clowning Around, which organized children’s parties and events. It was during this period that the family did a lot of traveling as Mike believed that “travel is the best education.”

Top: Dad Mike. Middle: Ramon and Anton. Bottom: Their youngest brother, Stefan

On July 1, 1992, Mike and Cherry’s third son, Stefan Michael was born. Stefan was a bright and precocious youngster who brought the family a lot of joy and laughter. Highly intelligent yet lacking in social skills, he was diagnosed at age 14 with Asperger’s Syndrome, which falls under the autism spectrum of disorders. His two older brothers loved him unconditionally and were so proud of his many achievements.

Anton, in the meantime, enjoyed his grade school and high school years. At the end of every school-year, Anton would romp off with the most prestigious award the school gives its students, “The Student Award,” as well as the “Gold Medal for Academic Excellence” and countless other awards. He graduated as Class Valedictorian in 7th grade and Salutatorian in high school in 2000. An easy-going guy, Anton made many friends and nurtured these friendships throughout his life. He was well-liked by his many teachers and was a role model for his peers. He was also invited by quite a number of young ladies to be their dates during their Junior-Senior proms and, along with Ramon, was often part of the 18 Roses ceremony in many debutante parties.

Anton during one of the traditional Mapua mini-golf tournaments, this one held during a cruise.

For college, Anton enrolled at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights for B.S. Management, and was even accepted into the competitive honors section. In 2001, he won a scholarship sponsored by Japan Airlines, where three students per Asian country were selected to attend the Asia Forum in Ishikawa. At 19, he was the youngest member of the delegation and was known to be the life of the party! Because of his scholarship in Japan, Anton graduated a year later in 2005 with a degree in B.S. Management. Despite this slight delay, he still managed to consistently land in the Dean’s List.

On the side, Anton showed his passion for music by singing and playing the acoustic guitar in different bars in Metro Manila. His main bandmate was his childhood friend and college roommate, Sanky Quinto. Despite being the nerd in the group, Anton easily disarmed people with his quick wit and quirky sense of humor. His friends would refer to him as “the cool nerd,” was popular with the ladies, and easily made many friends in the campus. In Ateneo, Anton was known as the “conyo” dude with a distinct prominent nose and signature long hairstyle that started way before the F4 boy band craze took Manila by storm.

Anton on a cruise with the Mapuas

Although Anton had bad eyesight since childhood, he followed the footsteps of his brother Mon in 2003 and had Lasik eye surgery which eliminated the need for eyeglasses. He emerged with 20/20 vision, which made it possible for him to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot. However, at his father’s insistence, he shed his dreams of aviation and focused on a career in the corporate world.

Before even graduating college, Anton was hired as a management trainee at Uniliver Philippines. After graduating, he moved on to work for Universal Robina Corp. (URC) as an Assistant Brand Manager for Chippy, a popular snack in the Philippines. He would often come home with assorted chips and samples for the family to try.

Anton visits his mom in Michigan, circa 2010.

In June 2007, Anton’s father Mike was diagnosed with stage-4 gastro-esophageal cancer. After treatment at Asian Hospital seemed dismal, his parents flew to Singapore so that Mike could be treated at Mt. Elizabeth Hospital, known for its cutting edge cancer treatment in Asia. Anton joined them to help out and give moral support, which his dad greatly appreciated. After a valiant three-month battle against stomach cancer, Mike returned home and succumbed on Sept. 17, 2007, three days shy of Anton’s 25th birthday on Sept. 20th. Anton, who adored his father so much, took this to heart and even remarked to his mom that henceforth, his birthdays would always be linked to the death of his dad, Mike.

Before his father died, Anton asked his permission to pursue his real dream of becoming a pilot. With his dad’s blessing, Anton soon embarked on a new career path and moved to Angeles, Pampanga, to live with his aunt and godmother, Lisa Mapua, whose home is located near Anton’s flight school, Omni Aviation. He looked up to Tita Lisa as his second mom and was a doting older brother to his cousin Monica, who is 15 years younger.

Anton flies a Cessna during his Omni Aviation days.

After completing flight school under Capt. Ben-Hur Gomez, he was hired by Omni as a flight instructor and taught many people to fly. As a flight instructor, Anton excelled not just in his technical knowledge of flying but in people skills that brought out the best in his students.

In June 2010, Anton met writer and theater actress Kate Alvarez during a night out with friends in Makati. They talked all night, and although she refused to give him her number, he persisted the following week and asked her out before heading to Michigan to attend his mother’s wedding on July 10. As soon as he came back from his trip, he pursued Kate by watching her favorite musicals with her, and even watched her own theater performances. They soon became a couple and spent most of their time traveling both in and out of the Philippines, as well as sampling various restaurants and hole-in-the-wall spots that they both loved. The well-traveled and foodie Anton would even help Kate work on her travel and lifestyle articles.

Anton and girlfriend, Kate. They were planning to get married.

While his mom was settling down in the U.S. and waiting to receive her permanent green card, Anton was busy completing his hours at Omni Aviation. He would drive home to Alabang Hills during weekends to check on this two brothers while meeting up with Kate. This was one of Anton’s happiest times as he was good at his job and was in a beautiful relationship.

In 2011, Anton finally completed the required hours of pilot experience and began transitioning back to Manila, where he started working on his application as a commercial pilot. Ever the good brother, Anton was in charge of Stefan’s mental health and would bring him to see his psychotherapist every Wednesday. Ramon, on the other hand, was the man of the house and was in charge of Stefan’s physical health. Anton and Mon thrived, taking care of their special younger sibling who chose not to relocate with his mom in the U.S.

Capt. Anton Osmeña of Cebu Pacific, 2012

In Feb. 2012, Anton was hired by Cebu Pacific and was under the guidance of his mentor and beloved uncle, Capt. Manuel Mapua-Osias. Anton’s benchmark for excellence was based on his innate sense of perfectionism and his admiration for his uncle who was awarded “Pilot of the Year” by his peers in the aviation industry. Although his goal was to fly an airbus, Anton took the ATR route to slowly earn his co-pilot wings. Soon he began to feel the stress of his new work surroundings and his penchant for perfectionism.

By June 2012, he started developing insomnia and depression. In August, while working out with a kettlebell at the gym, Anton accidentally split the skin between his thumb and pointer finger, an injury that required stitches and rest. This injury caused him to be grounded from flying for 10 days. He felt that this was a disaster as he could not practice take-offs and landings in preparation for his final exams at Cebu Pacific.

Capt. Anton Osmeña getting ready for a take-off in Cebu Pacific’s terminal.

A combination of depression, insomnia, anxiety, and stress created a chemical imbalance in Anton’s brain, making him believe that he was failing, when in reality, he had passed all the flight tests. Because of this chemical imbalance, he made an irrational decision.

From the 29th floor of Vivere Hotel, Anton plunged to his death and went from this earthly plane to eternity. In his wake he left a trail of family and friends, shocked and grieving at what he had done and the manner he chose to leave this lifetime. Everyone was heartbroken at the loss of such a sweet, kind, compassionate, and gentle person.

Anton’s ashes were laid to rest together with his father’s ashes at the family niche in St. James Church, Ayala Alabang. To keep his memory alive, his family put up two memorials—a website created by his uncle, Mike Mapua, and a Facebook group called Survivors of Suicide—Philippines, created by his mother, Cherry, and his girlfriend, Kate.

Anton and his beloved father, Mike, now flying high in heaven

Anton was supposed to be the best man at the wedding of Ramon on November 30, 2012, to Jella Veloso. His bereaved girlfriend, Kate, took his place and toasted to the couple, reading the best man speech that Anton wrote months ago.

Anton and Mon during a trip to Australia in 2008

Rest in peace, Anton. You made a difference in our lives and left the world a better place. Our lives will not be the same without you. We will always be proud of you, we love you, and we will never ever forget you.

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