Main Dock Loses Pacifico Samonte

Pacifico doing what he loved most  |  photo by Danielle Gray  |  post by Cameron Duncan and Larry Clinton

Long time Main Dock resident Pacifico Samonte passed away in mid-April in his floating home. The popular guitarist had been suffering from esophageal cancer.

His partner, Cameron Duncan, reported, “Pac was breathing very quietly and peacefully all night as I held his hand. It was quite a surprise to see Bow (our cat) pop up on his bed and curl up around Pac’s feet — he KNOWS Pac hates that. I looked back to Pac’s face and noticed he wasn’t breathing. There was even a faint smile on his lips as he moved to join his father and others.”

Cam also related some stories about Pacifico:

On July 21, 1952 Pacifico Yhan Marcelino Samonte was the first American born into his Filipino family. His unique perspective enjoyed the American culture so much that he chose to say “Hi! I’m Pacifico!” to anyone, with respect and humility. His slight tilt of the head made him irresistible. That’s exactly how we met, and when he later asked me out to dinner he gambled to make something clear: He asked before we got to his car, “Do you mind that I’m not as tall as you are?”

 I said, “Not if you don’t mind that I can’t sing.” It was the beginning of a wonderful romance that lasted 10 years.

At age three, he hounded his mother to get him a guitar. It was a plastic, red one with a black neck from the five-and-dime store, and he played it to bits. He eventually owned 22 guitars and used every one of them often. He co-hosted dock alerts from our porch with countless other musicians who kept our dock dancing way into the wee hours. It was pure fun.

His gift was also shared nearly every Tuesday evening at the no name bar for 16 years, no matter WHAT the weather or season was. And the throngs loved him because he was able to pick up anyone’s new tune and play in the background for those who asked, which was just about everyone.

His sense of humor was divine. He lost the coin toss to fold the laundry once, and to make me notice he put my underwear on his head and walked around like that. As a young boy, he convinced his younger brother to take an egg from the refrigerator and keep it in a blanket for two weeks so it could hatch. The stinky outcome got him in trouble, but it never dimmed his spirit.

The cancer that took him from us was aggressive and resistant to all the therapies, but it was mercifully quick. He had been profoundly moved by the world-wide response that helped him make his peace. Main Dock in particular kept me going as I tried to keep him comfortable. Flowers, letters, notes, even floating musicians singing behind our houseboat continued like flowing water for his last two weeks at home.

Plans for his memorial are on hold due to the world-wide coughie break. It is hoped that we can celebrate his life with his cherished music, dance and fun as soon as the threat is lifted.

Neighbors added their own tributes on social media:

Rusty Hendley wrote, “A huge and heartbreaking loss for our community and the universe of music. Pacifico Samonte will be making sweet music up in heaven. We’ll miss you forever Pac.”

Danielle Gray said, “I’m going to miss Pac something fierce. But I’m also so thankful to have met such a kind and generous human. Always willing to share time or music, hugs and heart. Thank you Pacifico. Rest in Music.”

And Jette Via, who has organized a  GoFundMe campaign to help offset medical bills and the cost of a memorial service, notes, “Cam and family deeply appreciate the wide array of love and support that has wrapped its loving arms around Pac and she these last few months.”

Here’s a link to a slide show of Pacifico plus videos of him with other musicians.