The starlight in local show business dimmed significantly in 2019 as the year saw the deaths of many notable people in the industry.
Comedy superstar Chokoleit, veteran actor Eddie Garcia, industry stalwart Armida Siguion-Reyna and “Philippines’ Elizabeth Taylor” Amalia Fuentes were just among the iconic and influential stars we’ve sadly had to say goodbye to this year.
In observance of All Saints’ Day, here’s a look back at all the beloved figures we’ve lost in 2019.
Pinoy rock icon Joey “Pepe” Smith died on January 28 shortly after being rushed to the hospital. He was 71.
“Thank you for everything papa bear ko. Thank you for being the best dad in the world. I know you're in the best place now, no more pains papa. I will see you in [a] few days. I love you to the moon and back," his daughter, Daisy Smith-Owen, wrote in a Facebook post.
Photo from Sanya Smith
The cause of his death remains unclear.
Over a year prior to his passing, the musician suffered a stroke and later on underwent an eye operation.
Before his success as a soloist, Pepe was part of the iconic Juan dela Cruz band, together with Wally Gonzalez and Mike Hanopol. The group is known for their hits Beep Beep, Balong Malalim, Titser’s Enemy No. 1, Himig Natin, No Touch, and Kahit Anong Mangyari.
Comedian Bentong, whose real name was Domingo Vusotros Brotamante Jr., died at Fairview General Hospital on February 9 due to heart attack. He was 55.
"Rest in Peace Papa Bentong. Hindi ko akalain na heto na ang huling pagsasama [natin]. Alam ko kasama mo na ang Panginoon ngayon kaya panatag na rin ang loob ko," his son-in-law, Arvin Vincent Anierdes, said in a Facebook post.
Photo from IMDB
"Maraming maraming salamat Papa sa pag-aaruga sa pamilya natin. Maraming salamat din dahil napakarami [mong] napasayang tao. Mahal na mahal ka namin Pa", he added.
Bentong, who was revealed to have been suffering from diabetes, was rushed to the hospital after having difficulty breathing, his wife, Cecille Bernal, had told reporters.
Formerly a production assistant at ABS-CBN, Bentong appeared in comedy movies and television shows in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was best known as a mainstay in popular noontime shows Magandang Tanghali Bayan and Wowowee.
Singer, actress, and TV/film producer Armida Siguion-Reyna died at the Makati Medical Center on February 11 at the age of 88 due to cancer, as confirmed by her sister, Irma Potenciano.
Photo from Manila Bulletin
She was best known for producing one of the longest-running musical shows on Philippine television, Aawitan Kita, as well as critically acclaimed films Hihintayin Kita sa Langit and Inagaw Mo ang Lahat sa Akin.
Armida also served as chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) during the Estrada administration from 1998 to 2001.
Comedian Chockoleit passed away aged 48 on March 2 after succumbing to pulmonary edema and heart attack, according to a statement from his talent agency, Star Magic.
“Chokoleit was performing in an out of town show in Abra, and experienced difficulty in breathing after his performance,” the statement said, referring to his stand-up act in the Kawayan Festival 2019 just hours prior to his death.
Photo from Chokoleit on Instagram (@hot_chokoleit)
Born Jonathan Aguilar Garcia, Chokoleit was best known for his role as Pearly Shell in the drama fantasy series Marina. From Marina, more television shows and movies came for the Kapamilya star, including an appearance in Kampanerang Kuba, Mara Clara, and Ang Probinsyano, as well as films Ang Tanging Ina N'yong Lahat, Etiquette for Mistresses, and Fantastica.
Veteran comedian Gary Lising was found dead by his only son, Bugsy, in his condominium unit on June 1. He was 78.
“We lost our beloved Gary Lising, my eldest brother, today. Gary, thank you for all the laughs and love, we will miss you deeply. But I know that your jokes will make God laugh. Rest in Peace my dear brother,” wrote Gary’s brother, Pompeii Lising, in a Facebook post.
Photo from Gary Lising on Facebook
Prior to his death, Gary suffered two cardiac arrests—one in 2009 and another in 2012—which required him to undergo angioplasty more than once, according to Rappler.
Known as a comedian who specialized in green jokes, Gary was part of the 1980s comedy gag show Champoy, together with fellow comics Subas Herrero and Noel Trinidad. In the ‘90s, he also starred in films such as Run Barbi Run and Alyas Boy Tigas.
Aside from acting, Gary was also an author, and had written a handful of comedy books, including Gold, Erap and Other 4-Letter Words; Cory Nary Attack; and Confessions of a D.O.M. (Delightful Old Man).
Award-winning actor Eddie “Manoy” Garcia died on June 20 after suffering from a neck fracture. He was 90.
"Categorically, I state that Eddie Garcia’s death was caused by gross negligence and unsafe working environment and absence of medical team on the set," said Eddie's long-time partner, Lilibeth Romero, in a statement following his untimely death.
Photo from Artu Nepomuceno
"We join the entire Filipino community in praying for the soul of Mr. Garcia and his dearly beloved family and friends," a statement from Makati Medical Center announcing the death of Eddie said.
Widely regarded as the “greatest Filipino actor of all time”, Eddie had over 600 film and television roles and a career spanning seven decades to his credit.
His death came just days after he was named by Gawad Urian as Best Actor for his role as a delusional military officer who tortures students in the 2018 Cinemalaya movie ML.
Child star Niña Sophia Gabrielle "Sophie" Corullo died on August 18 due to severe dengue. She was six.
Her passing was confirmed by her management company, JAMS Artist Production, days later, saying in a statement: “On behalf of JAMS Artist Production we are giving our most sympathy to the family and friends of Baby Sophia.
Photo from JAMS Artist Production
"We are asking for your help to pray for her soul to be in peace in heaven and guide and heal her family that is encountering downfalls.”
Sophie rose to fame after joining the popular Mini Me segment of the ABS-CBN noontime show, It’s Showtime. She was last seen in the Maalaala Mo Kaya episode that aired in the same month starring Yen Santos.
Veteran actress Mona Lisa, born Gloria Lerma Yatco, peacefully passed away at her home on August 25, three years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimere’s disease, at the age of 97, as confirmed by her daughter, Vangie Bacobo.
Photo from IMDB
Otherwise known by her screen name as Fleur de Lis before and during the World War II, Mona was one of the renowned Filipino actresses of the late 1930s and 1940s. Her famous films include Giliw Ko; Kalbario ng Isang Ina; Batang Lansangan, Pag-ibig at Patalim, and Intramuros.
Veteran actor Lito Legaspi was pronounced dead at the Cardinal Santos Memorial Medical Center on September 8 after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 77.
Photo from IMDB
The father of actors Zoren and Kier Legaspi rose to fame as one of the matinee idols of Sampaguita Pictures, alongside the likes of Eddie Gutierrez, Jose Mari Gonzalez, Romeo Vasquez, Greg Martin and Juancho Gutierrez.
Among his popular films under the now-defunct movie studio include the 1961 romance comedy Joey, Eddie, and Lito and 1962’s Lab Na Lab Kita, where he co-starred with Susan Roses as his leading lady.
His last works consist of several shows under the ABS-CBN network, namely, FPJ's Ang Probinsyano, Jim Fernandez's Galema, Anak ni Zuma, and Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin.
Industry stalwart Tony Mabesa was “surrounded by family and friends” when he passed away aged 84 on October 4.
“We thank you for your prayers. We hope you can respect the family’s wish for privacy at this time,” said the family statement released by Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas and playwright Floy Quintos.
Photo from IMDB
Widely regarded as a pillar of Philippine theater, Tony was the founding artistic director of Dulaang UP and had staged dozens of productions over the years. He was also an actor with some 170 shows to his credit.
His last film was as recent as 2018—the Metro Manila Film Festival entry Rainbow’s Sunset, where he and fellow late star Eddie played elderly gay lovers.
Film icon Amalia Fuentes passed away aged 79 after succumbing to multiple organ failure on October 5, her nephew, actor Niño Muhlach, confirmed in an interview on radio DZMM.
"Lagi siyang nagse-seizure kahit nasa ICU (intensive care unit) siya," said Niño, who added that the actress has been “paralyzed” and “bedridden for the past four years” following a heart attack.
Photo from Yahoo
Amalia rose to fame after winning Mr. and Ms. Number One, a talent search launched by Sampaguita Pictures way back in 1956. In the late ‘60s to the end of the ‘70s, she produced and starred in her own movies, including Mga Reynang Walang Trono, Tatlong Kasaysayang Ng Pag-ibig and Ito Ang Aming Kasunduan.
Formerly a member of the MTRCB, Amalia had appeared in more than 130 films since, including, in recent years, My Only Love, and Asawa Ko, Huwag Mong Agawin.