MANILA, Philippines -- "His death was unexpected," said actor Ricky Davao, whose father Charlie succumbed to colon cancer on Sunday morning. Charlie was 75.
"I was shocked with the news. He earlier showed signs that his health was improving," said Ricky, who was in Cebu at the time of the interview. "That's why I risked leaving and going here for work." Ricky later boarded a 3 p.m. flight to Manila.
Charlie, who was known for portraying character roles in the movies and TV, passed away at 11:30 a.m. at the Philippine General Hospital in Manila. His cancer was detected in 2009.
"Before he died, I was able to speak to him on the phone. My daughter said he kept nodding his head while I talked," Ricky told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. "Although I feel bad that I wasn't there with him, at least my siblings and children were all by his bedside."
Ricky said arrangements were still being made for Charlie's wake and burial rites.
Malou Choa-Fagar, "Eat...Bulaga!" producer and one of Ricky's close friends, related: "Ricky said the doctors earlier informed the family that Charlie could go anytime. This was why they arranged a gathering of friends last Friday. The event was very private--strictly for family and friends. No reporter or TV crew was allowed."
Among those who paid Charlie a visit at the PGH were actors Tirso Cruz III, Eddie Gutierrez and his wife Annabelle Rama, and nephew Edu Manzano.
Congresswoman Lani Mercado said she would have visited Charlie, too, if not for an engagement in Dagupan City. Lani became close to Charlie when they worked together in the suspense-drama series "Saan Darating ang Umaga" in 2008. "I think (Senator) Bong (Revilla, her husband) and I were one of the first people to know about his condition. We helped him when he first got hospitalized at the PGH," said Mercado.
Mercado said she last spoke with Charlie early this year at the wedding of one of the late actor's children. "I saw that Tito Charlie had lost so much weight already. But during the ceremony, I saw in his eyes that he was truly happy," said Lani, who was one of the principal sponsors in the wedding. "I always bump into his son Ricky in showbiz gatherings. Ricky told me that since he and the family knew of their Papa's illness, they would take one day at a time. They knew na may hangganan ang lahat (everything has its end). I hope he was able to prepare himself emotionally for his Papa's passing."
She added: "I offer my prayers to Tito Charlie's family. He was a great loss. I remember telling him to visit Bong's father (Ramon Revilla Sr.) when the latter had a stroke so they could reminisce about working together for Imus Productions. I never thought mawawala na siya (that he would be gone soon)."
Sexy actress Ara Mina considered Charlie one of the most professional actors she worked with. "Kapag ka-eksena mo madadala ka talaga (You would be affected if you were in the scene together). He was also like a father to me. He was very caring," she recalled.
Born Charlie Dabao in Iloilo City, he went to Manila in 1954 to study. He juggled being a commerce student at the University of the East and working as a commercial and print ad model.
Charlie, who would later become known for his roles as an antagonist in the movies and TV, landed his first major role in the film "Isinumpa" (Cursed) in 1959. Among his most memorable films were "Kaming Mga Talyada" (1962), with Juancho Guttierez and Jose Mari Gonzales, and "Trudis Liit" ("Little Trudis," 1993), with Vilma Santos.
He was also part of "Palengke Queen" with Nora Aunor in 1982; "Pedro Tunasan" with Lito Lapid in 1983; "Get Victor Corpus: The Rebel Soldier" with Rudy Fernandez in 1987; "The Rape of Virginia P." with Alma Moreno in 1989; and "Volta" with Ai-Ai de la Alas in 2004.
On television, he worked with Claudine Barretto in "Mula sa Puso" on ABS-CBN in 1997. He was also part of "Darna," "Rosalinda," and "Totoy Bato" on GMA 7. Charlie was last seen in "Saan Darating ang Umaga" on GMA 7 in 2008.