MANILA, Philippines?At Francis Magalona?s wake Saturday at the Christ the King memorial chapels on Greenmeadows Avenue, Quezon City, the mood was upbeat with songs the Pinoy rap icon had written and recorded in a remarkable career cut terribly short by leukemia.
The 44-year-old multimedia artist and performer lay elegantly dressed in a black suit, which his daughter Maxene said he first wore at a photography competition he attended in Vietnam last year. In his hands was a gold rosary.
Politicians, show biz personalities present
A handful of politicians including former president Cory Aquino, Sen. Richard Gordon, and Dangerous Drugs Board chief Vicente ?Tito? Sotto III, also the rapper-musician?s co-host in the noontime show ?Eat?Bulaga!,? were at Magalona?s wake.
Magalona?s show biz colleagues were also in attendance, including his other ?Eat?Bulaga!? co-hosts Vic Sotto, Joey de Leon, Toni Rose Gayda, Michael V., Pia Guanio, Pauleen Luna, and Ciara Sotto and other celebrities, such as fellow rapper Andrew E., Michael de Mesa, Mark Gil, Cherie Gil, Annabelle Rama, Eddie Gutierrez, Tonton Gutierrez, Dominic Ochoa, and Gina Alajar.
Still in shock
De Leon was still in shock over his passing the other day.
?We all cried on the Bulaga set,? said De Leon. ?I just found it weird that (one of our co-hosts) Rio Diaz died shortly before Bulaga was about to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Now, Francis dies four months before its 30th anniversary.?
De Leon added: ?As a host, it was hard for me to interview a friend about his illness because I always felt like crying. But Francis made sure to lighten our conversations. He was such an optimist.?
Tony Tuviera, president of TAPE Inc. which produces ?Eat?Bulaga!?, said he was surprised to hear of Magalona?s death. ?I thought he was getting better.
Malakas kasi ang loob niya ( He was strong-willed). He was about to undergo a stem cell transplant and we all thought he was going to make it. I instructed Malou (Choa-Fagar, TAPE executive) to give assistance to his family.?
Magalona succumbed to leukemia or cancer of the bone marrow at high noon on Friday, seven months after being diagnosed with the disease.
Former president Aquino, who was diagnosed with colon cancer, tells INQUIRER.net her thoughts on battling the dreaded disease like Magalona: ?Mahirap nga pero kailangan kalimutan mo ang sarali mo at isipin mo kung ano ang makakabuti. Kelangang magpatuloy ka. [It?s difficult to fight the disease but you have to forget yourself and think of doing what?s best.]?
Passionate artist, dedicated family man
Gordon also paid tribute to Magalona as a passionate artist and dedicated family man.
?Francis wanted to be the greatest in his craft. He was number one in his craft. He?s a good son and a good father,? the senator said.
Tito Sotto, meanwhile, remembered his first movie with Magalona, ?Doctor, Doctor, I am Sick,? during the 1980s, in which the Master Rapper portrayed the role of a nurse.
?(He was) bursting with energy so during that time he danced a lot. I was not surprised at all when he ventured in singing, hiphop and everything else, then lately, photography,? said Sotto.
Magalona?s wife Pia Arroyo-Magalona also revealed to INQUIRER.net the lessons she and her family learned from him.
?Pursue whatever you start until you finish it and then you get to accomplish so many things. Follow your dreams. Love your country as you love yourself. And do your part,? Pia said.
For Maxene, Magalona was a father who showed them that life can be lived to the fullest even in the last days of his life.
?The most important lesson, he didn?t have to say this but we saw in him that even though he was sick, he always did what he wanted to do. He never let anyone or anything stop him from doing what he loves to do. He still went to the camera club, he still took pictures, everytime he was discharged from the hospital, he records songs with (Eraserheads and Pupil frontman) Ely Buendia. He taught us that life is short but it can be well lived. Don?t waste your time in the world,? Maxene tells INQUIRER.net
In a statement on ?Eat ... Bulaga!? and ?Star Talk,? his widow, Pia asked friends and fans of her husband to omit flowers, and instead donate blood or money to the Philippine National Red Cross.
?The Red Cross has helped us so much. Francis would have liked this charitable institution to help others as well,? she told the media gathered at the wake.
In Magalona?s last blog entry (on his site www.francismagalona.multiply.com), the multi-awarded rapper-songwriter wrote that he was Type O positive and needed blood and platelets, with instructions to leave donations at The Medical City in Pasig, where he was confined.
Pia clarified reports that Francis had fallen into a coma a few hours before he died. ?He was alert until his doctors gave him painkillers. I was with him the whole time. Things happened so fast. I thank God for that. It was better that way,? she said.
Cause of death
The medical report indicated Magalona died of ?multiple organ failure secondary to severe sepsis and secondary to pneumonia.? Only a few days ago, he went through his fourth chemotherapy session. He was preparing to undergo a stem cell transplant at the time of his death.
Janet Lao and Shari Consulta, former classmates and close friends of Pia, said they used to text each other for updates on his condition.
?They were both hopeful that Francis? health would improve. He was a fighter. He kept Pia hopeful, too,? said Consulta.
?Even now that she?s busy with Francis? wake, Pia is still her animated and bubbly self,? said Lao. ?She kept her conversations with us informative but light.?
Lilia Licauco, 78, said she came all the way from Cavite to see Magalona. ?I?m actually a fan of his parents Tita Duran and Pancho Magalona. When I stood beside his coffin, I told Francis that I?m happy because he would finally see them again,? Licauco said.
Magalona?s remains will be cremated on March 11 at Funeraria Paz in Quezon City after a 9 a.m. Mass at Christ the King.
Fans may view Magalona?s remains from 6 a.m to 6 p.m. until March 10.