MANILA, Philippines?(UPDATE 3) Actor Marky Cielo, 20, who rose to fame after winning a youth talent search on television network GMA 7, reportedly died in his sleep Sunday morning.
According to a statement from the TV network, Cielo?s mother, Mildred, went into her son?s room in their house in Antipolo City to wake him up at around 10 a.m.
When Cielo (Mark Angelo Cadaweng Cielo in real life) did not respond, Mildred rushed him to the nearby Antipolo Doctor?s Hospital where the actor was declared dead on arrival, the statement added.
At press time, the cause of Cielo?s death remains unknown as his family is still waiting for his medical records to be released.
?The family is experiencing tremendous pain because of Marky?s death and is requesting for your prayers. It is also their wish that this matter remain private for now,? the GMA statement said.
In a used clothes stall at the Bayanihan Hotel in Baguio City, Hazel Bantilan was listening to a radio broadcast announcing Cielo?s death.
?Haan nga agpaypayso. Awan confirmation (This is not true. There?s no confirmation yet),? she said.
After getting another ukay-ukay stall owner to confirm the news, Bantilan cried.
?He is a good boy. Right after he won as Starstruck [ultimate] survivor, he texted some of us to thank us,? she said.
?We worked hard for him. He is a relative of one of us so we did a text barrage. And now he?s gone,? Bantilan added.
Cielo became a model for Cordillerans in 2007 when he joined the third season of the reality contest ?Starstruck,? a search for fresh talents mounted by GMA 7.
Though he grew up in Butuan City in 1988, he and his family returned to Mt. Province in 2001. He was fluent in Bisaya as well as in Kankanaey.
Most owners of ukay-ukay stalls in Baguio came from Mt. Province and they helped mobilize Cordillerans to vote for Cielo during his Starstruck run.
After news of his death started to spread, Cielo?s more than 770 friends on the social networking website Facebook posted a handful of messages.
??Nak (Son), we will miss you,? read Cecilia Roxas? message.
Butch Guerrero, a writer connected with the University of the Philippines? Creative Writing Center and an observer of pop culture, said Cielo was an essential part of the regional consciousness.
?He is a katutubo (native) and proud of it. In a lot of reality shows, we see people liking contestants who are mean and rough and rude. Marky is the opposite. I was so happy when he won. He is a confirmation that good values still do matter,? Guerrero said.
Cielo?s body was brought to the St. Peter Memorial Chapel of Our Lady of Good Voyage Cathedral in Antipolo City. From there, it will be taken to Benguet province.
With Frank Cimatu, Inquirer Northern Luzon