Cresencio “Cris” Valois Castaneda was born on September 14, 1938 in SolotSolot San Juan Ilocos Sur, Philippines. He was the youngest of four children—the only boy. He graduated from Mapua Institute of Technology (“Mapua”) with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Papa was employed at Central Bank of the Philippines but when he was recruited by a private engineering firm in New York City, he decided to immigrateto the United States in 1973. His wife, Editha and their three young children soon followed.
They lived in Indianapolis, Indiana but work took him to different parts of the U.S. such as Albuquerque, New Mexico. But Papa wanted to keep going west and that meant Long Beach, California. He was offered a position with the State of California, Department of Transportation,Caltrans and would work on complex and extensive freeway construction projects. While he enjoyed his work and mentoring young engineers, he also wanted to spend more time traveling, playing mahjong with friends, and being with his family so he retired at 65.
Papa was a humble and generous man—he was known for his “wicked” sense of humor and his down-to-earth advice. Those that knew him can attest that his simple advice of being on time, to be honest, and always save your money, are lessons that transcend time, generations, and cultures.
He died peacefully after months of battling several ailments. He passed away on February 21, 2019 holding my mom’s hands—they were after all together for 54 years so it is befitting that his “angel” (as he described my mom to one of the nurses) would be next to him. Papa never told my mom that of course, but she would later know of this afterwards.
Papa was proud of his three children, but he was overjoyed when he had his two grandchildren, Cristopher (10) and Alexander (5). Papa had no regrets and as he said when he was ill, he is not “afraid of death.” But his one wish was to perhaps live five more years so Alexander would grow up to remember him more.
Cristopher would tell him to “fight, fight, fight” while he was in the hospital. Alexander asked Lola why Lolo is dead? Did Lolo eat too much candy? Yes, Alexander Lolo enjoyed his life and his many blessings. We celebrate his life and we will continue to laugh with him as he watches over us from heaven.