The 44-year-old musician, songwriter, record producer, actor and TV host died from multiple organ failure arising from complications due to leukemia at the Medical City Hospital in Pasig City.
On March 3, hospital sources said Magalona was brought to Medical City?s intensive care unit, where he had also been confined last December, due to sepsis or severe bacterial infection of the body.
He was reportedly set to make a guest appearance at the second Eraserheads reunion concert Saturday night at the SM Mall of Asia open-air grounds in Pasay.
Just a few days ago, Magalona had undergone his fourth chemotherapy. At the time of his death, he was preparing to have stem cell transplant in another hospital.
A fund-raising golf tournament for his benefit had also been scheduled by a corporate sponsor this April.
On Aug. 8 last year, Magalona was first diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, which his doctors at Medical City said was ?the worst kind? of cancer of the bone marrow.
While undergoing treatment, he decided to chronicle his experience in his own website (?A Free Mind? on http://francismagalona.multiply.com). He called the ordeal his ?happy battle??which was the title of one of his albums released in 1996.
Commentary on Pinoy life
He was recognized for his painstaking efforts to elevate Pinoy rap beyond its novelty phase in the local music scene.
In the Philippines, rap was considered novelty music until Magalona came along. If Vincent Daffalong first utilized it with funny lyrics and Andrew E exploited it with a sexist angle, Magalona?influenced to a major extent by all the hip-hop superstars in America?transformed the music into a serious commentary on Pinoy life and culture.
Show biz?s true child
Magalona was a true child of Philippine show business.
His parents, Pancho Magalona and Tita Duran, were film and TV matinee idols of the ?40s and ?50s.
Starting out as a break-dancer?one of the key elements that accompanied rap music?Magalona was first seen on Alma Moreno?s TV program ?Loveli-Ness? in the ?80s.
Taking his passion for rap a step further, Magalona recorded his debut album ?Yo!? in 1990. The album became a hit with the single ?Mga Kababayan,? whose lyrics about racial pride and love of country stirred nationalist fervor at a time when the Philippine government was besieged by a series of military revolts.
Magalona?s work on the album was also a crucial time in his personal life, as he was just starting to settle on his own with a growing family in a rented apartment in Quezon City.
He also became a radio DJ on the defunct FM station DMZ (Dance Music Zone).
Sense of purpose
Two years later, riding high on popularity and a sense of purpose in his music, Magalona?then known by his monikers ?Master Rapper? and ?Man from Manila??released his second album whose title included his new stage name: ?Rap is FrancisM.?
The record?s significance was illustrated by the track ?Mga Praning,? which documented, in satire form, the destructive effects of shabu addiction. Magalona himself had used the drug and wrote the song as a cautionary tale.
It was also in that album where Magalona?s wish to be accepted by the Pinoy rock community surfaced. In the company of music journalist friends, he started hanging out at the old Club Dredd on Scout Tobias, Quezon City; on certain nights he would jam onstage with a vetaran rock ?n? roll band, The Jerks.
Melding rap and rock
To prove his earnest desire to meld rap with other genres, Magalona invited folk-rock artist Joey Ayala to a recording session. The latter brought along his acoustic guitar and ethnic instruments. The result was ?Halalan??a biting political commentary that was heard during the ?92 presidential elections and which also appeared on the ?Rap is FrancisM? album.
Magalona?s enthusiasm to be part of the rock scene was such that he gladly joined a concert with a multiple band lineup?only to be mocked by an unruly crowd who pelted him with debris.
Years later he would overcome whatever opposition there was in his efforts, when the Eraserheads, the most popular and influential Pinoy rock band of the ?90s, recorded ?Super Proxy? featuring Magalona as guest rapper.
The band?s members had previously met Magalona one late night at Club Dredd?s second location on Edsa in Cubao.
Throughout his music career, Magalona released some 10 albums with various labels, most recently with Sony BMG Philippines. A recent recording, ?The F Word,? was independently released on his own label in MP3 format and was marketed for free with a purchase of items from his newly launched garment retail brand FrancisM Clothing Corp.
His business venture was one of the fruits of a successful multimedia career, which included acting in films, a stint as VJ on MTV and co-hosting on the longest-running daily noontime TV program ?Eat Bulaga,? a job which he maintained until he went down with leukemia.
He also took up photography, a hobby which became another passion when he started contributing to the Inquirer and a tourist magazine. He was overjoyed when he was accepted as a member of the prestigious Camera Club of the Philippines.
January this year, he started work on an album dubbed ?The Sickos Project,? proceeds of which were to help indigent people with diseases such as leukemia.
Magalona is survived by his wife Pia?whom he met at a party in a disco owned by the late film director Ishmael Bernal?and children Unna, Nicolo, Maxene, Francis Jr., Saab, Elmo, Arkin and Clara.
From Funeraria Paz, his remains will be brought to the Christ The King parish in Greenmeadows, Quezon City.
A special tribute has been prepared by his colleagues on ?Eat Bulaga? on Saturday.
With a report from Marinel R. Cruz