Virgil Sanico was born April 15, 1954 in Baybay, Leyte in the Phillipines. Baybay, at the time was a city of 50,000 people located some 325 miles southeast of Manila. Virgil was the son of Bienvenido Sanico and Saturnina Agapay. Even as a child Virgil had a warm personality, a big smile, and a tender heart. You knew if Virgil was around he would be playing practical jokes on people, picking on his cousins, and getting into a bit of trouble. He may have been a little bit naughty but he was always a lot of fun. Virgil also had great love for his family. As a little boy, when the boys in the school yard would pick on his cousin Evelyn he would stand up to them and chase them away. When his family was in need of money he would collect firewood and sell it to make ends meet. This didn’t stop at childhood. He was a family man who provided a home for his parents and siblings. He was a loyal member of his family.
As he grew older circumstances of his life causes him to move in and live with his grandparents, his Aunt Eugenia, and cousin Evelyn. As he grew older the family recognized his love for drawing. He was always drawing cartoons, caricatures, and artwork for friends and family. In his teens he was able to take classes at a prestigious art school in the Philippines. It was a passion of that he would continue throughout his life. Virgil was an incredibly hard worker who could never sit idly by when there was a job to be done. Whether he was working as a messenger, a janitor, or an artist, he was working hard and working unto the Lord.
Virgil loved the Lord Jesus Christ above all else. He came to know Christ as his Lord and Savior Virgil repented of his sin and believed in the promise of Christ the song, “I Surrender All” was a special hymn. As the words so beautifully confess, “All to Jesus I surrender, all to him I freely give, I will ever love and trust him, In His presence daily live. All to Thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all.” Virgil surrendered everything to Christ. Virgil could not keep the fact that God so loved the world that He sent Christ to save sinner to himself. He looked for opportunities to share the gospel with his family, friends, and coworkers. One day, while working as a janitor, he began to share Christ with a man on his shift. Over the course of their conversations the man came to put his faith in Christ and was called him into pastoral ministry. Virgil’s faithfulness in sharing the gospel was multiplied over and over again. He was also a faithful servant who sought ways to use his talents and abilities to serve the church. When he came to Christ he became a very active member in his church working with the youth. After he moved to the United States he sought out a gospel-loving church and found ways to serve. In Arizona he served as a deacon and led a men’s ministry and Bible Study. He looked for any opportunity to serve. Whether it be driving handicap people to church, assisting the pastor, greeting visitors, cleaning the building, or teaching Bible Studies…Virgil was served with humility and integrity. He was a faithful servant.
As Virgil grew older he desired a wife. As Genesis 2:18 says, “It is not good for a man to be alone.” Virgil desired a wife and prayed that the Lord would enable him to find one. The Lord’s provision was kind and generous to Virgil through the matchmaking of a relative. While Virgil was in the United States a cousin decided that a beautiful young Filipino woman would make a wonderful wife for him. Virgil and Eleanor began talking over the phone, internet, and FaceTime and it became immediately evident to Eleanor that Virgil was the man that she had been praying for. She had prayed that the Lord would send her a God-fearing man who would love her…that was Virgil. Eleanor was amazed how every conversation with Virgil always lead back to Christ. He was faithful to encourage her faith and teach her what it meant to follow Christ. It didn’t take long before Virgil asked Eleanor to be his wife…six months to be more like it. Virgil knew what he was looking for and Eleanor was a perfect match, so he flew back home to the Philippians to marry her and bring her back to the States…the only catch was that they still hadn’t met in person. Since Virgil was older her family joked that she was marrying a grandpa and she joked with her sister that she was relieved that Virgil was a handsome man who walked off the plan and wasn’t wheeled off in a wheelchair. It was the start of a beautiful love story!
Virgil and Eleanor were a wonderful couple. They laughed together and cried together. They sang together and watched movies together. He was her Prince Charming and she was his Queen! Eleanor loved to take pictures and Virgil loved to pose for her. Whether he was posing like a Hollywood Model or being silly for the camera, Virgil was satisfied to have Eleanor by his side. He loved to go to Diary Queen to share a Banana split or share a Fish Burrito…he wasn’t picky.as long as he was with Eleanor. He also loved walking on the beach with her, he loved the water, the wind, and the beauty of God’s creation. Eleanor has many movies of Virgil narrating their adventures, telling silly stories, and singing the Classic Hymns of the Faith. Life was good when he was with the precious wife whom he had waiting so long for.
They did not have children of their own but they might as well have: Romeo.
Their sweet poodle who loved Virgil unconditionally …whenever Eleanor wasn’t around. It never failed that when Eleanor came home Romeo dropped Virgil like a bad habit and ran to her side. Romeo was no fool…they both knew how wonderful a women Eleanor is. Romeo was a sweet dog who gave Virgil much joy. When Virgil was sick he snuggled close to Virgil to keep him company. He was Virgil’s faithful friend and loving companion while he was sick.
Virgil was a special man to our church. He was not a person who desired to be up front or in the spotlight but he served faithfully and lovingly. Virgil could always be found encouraging people with his laughter and smile. He was serving people any way he could from cleaning up after luncheon, cleaning the church, or painting the Education Building. But if you were very fortunate and listened carefully you would hear deep wisdom from a life lived in the grace of Jesus Christ. A few years back we instituted a Thanksgiving Meal were a member of each family shares something they are thankful for and the congregation follows with, “His love endures forever!” Two years ago, the last time we were able to meet together, Virgil had these words to share...
“If you honor God, he will honor you. God will provide you everything you need.” Virgil Sanico ~ November 24, 2019
Virgil was a man who honored the Lord and the Lord honored Virgil. Not with a lot of money or a big home or a fancy sportscar, but with abundant life…now and for eternity. Jesus blessed Virgil with the love of a wife, the love of family, the love of a church family, and most of all…the love of God. A brain tumor was not the end of Virgil’s life…it was the means to bring him into eternal life. The evangelist D. L. Moody often said, “Some day you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody is dead. Don’t believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone up higher, that is all; out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal- a body that death cannot touch; that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like until [Jesus] glorious body.” Virgil would tell you the same. Virgil honored God by trusting the promises of God that though his sin deserved God’s wrath…Jesus took his place. And though he could never stand before God…Jesus gave Virgil his righteousness. Virgil’s spirit has the honor of being with Christ this moment as his body awaits the Resurrection when Christ returns. The promise of the gospel gave Virgil great hope. He knew that life nor death, angels or principalities, nor cancer or tumors… could NOT separate him from the love of God in Christ. Therefore, Virgil was able to devote his life to enjoying the good gifts of God (food, music, art, the love of a wife, walks on the beach, and the fellowship of God’s people) and making sure that those around him knew the gospel.
Virgil also knew that this day was coming. He knew that he would go to be with the Lord before Eleanor. He told me that he worried about what she would do and how she would manage. He would be so proud of both Eleanor and Ocean Park. Virgil was so thankful for the meals, the rides to the doctors, cleaning the church for him, fixing things for him, praying for him, and teaching Eleanor how to drive (one thing he couldn’t manage to do!). The Lord has honored Virgil’s faith by providing a church he loved to care for the wife he loved. This is such a wonderful example of the Lord providing for Virgil’s needs. There will be a day when this broken world is made right, when all that is sad becomes untrue, and Virgil’s body will be glorified. He will be in the New Heavens and the New Earth thanking Jesus for his amazing grace. What a joy that will be!