PEP YEARENDER 2017: Isabel Granada, Hashtag Franco, other celebs who bid their final goodbye

by Bernie V. Franco
Dec 29, 2017
A number of important people from the showbiz industry and news and public affairs industry passed away in 2017. They include (L-R) film director Soxy Topacio, actress Isabel Granada, Hashtags member Franco Hernandez, and veteran actress Zeny Zabala. 

We at (Philippine Entertainment Portal) once more pay our respect to the people we remember for their dedication to their careers, professions, and crafts.

They were thespians, actors, directors, composers, talent managers, and journalists who have moved on to a higher pasture and left behind lasting contributions to their respective fields.

A farewell toast to them who passed away this year. In memoriam:

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Isabel Granada

The 41-year-old actress died on November 4 in Doha, Qatar.

She was in coma for almost two weeks after collapsing on October 24.

The doctors at the Hamad General Hospital said brain aneurysm caused her death.

Isabel started in showbiz at an early age and in her teens became part of the youth-oriented TV show That’s Entertainment in the 1980s and 1990s

She remained active in television and movie projects until her death.

A licensed pilot, she finished aeronautical engineering and had served as reservist Airwoman, 2nd Class Sergeant in the Philippine Air Force from 2001 to 2003.

Among her last projects were The Half Sisters (2014) and Meant To Be (2017) with GMA Network, and Sa Puso Ko Iingatan Ka (2001-2003), Got To Believe (2013), and Wansapanataym: Holly & Mau (2016) with ABS-CBN.

Isabel was survived by her mom Isabel “Mommy Guapa” Villarama, husband Arnel Cowley, and son Hubert, with former husband Jericho Aguas.

Franco Hernandez a.k.a. Hashtag Franco

Hashtag Franco met his untimely death in a drowning accident in the waters of North Lamidan in Don Marcelino, Davao Occidental, last November 11.

Hashtags is the all-male group that regularly performs in ABS-CBN’s noontime show, It’s Showtime.

Franco was with his girlfriend Janica Nam Floresca, fellow Hashtags member Tom Doromal and his girlfriend, another male companion, and two boatmen at the time of the accident.

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His death became mired with controversy when Janica and his parents spoke up to suggest he could have been saved had help come sooner than it did.

Cornelia “Angge” Lee

She was a showbiz veteran known in showbiz as Tita Angge, a talent manager and radio commentator.

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She was bedridden for a year after suffering a heart attack on March 5, 2016. She died on March 2, 2017.

She was the manager of Sylvia Sanchez, Smokey Manaloto, Mickey Ferriols, among others.

Tita Angge or Tita A was a movie fan who moved up to become a radio, television, and film talent.

Fortune smiled and she went on to become a talent manager and a casting director.

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Romeo Vasquez

He was the father of the late Liezl Martinez with his ex-wife, Amalia Fuentes, who once held the title Queen of Philippine Cinema.

Romeo was confined at the Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Los Angeles, California, fighting liver cancer when he suffered a stroke, according to a report.

He was a matinee idol and leading man of famous actresses like Amalia, Susan Roces, Barbara Perez, and Vilma Santos.

Among his movies included Maruja (1967), Gaano Kita Kamahal (1968), Nag-aapoy Na Damdamin (1976), Dalawang Pugad Isang Ibon (1977), Bakit Kailangan Kita? (1978), at Swing It... Baby! (1978).

In 1958, Romeo was named Asia's Best Actor for his performance in Ako Ang Maysala! released in the same year.

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Donna Villa

The former actress and producer, and wife of film director Carlo J. Caparas, died on January 17 at the University of Sto. Tomas Hospital.

At age 57, she succumbed to cancer of the uterus.

Her film outfit, Golden Lions Films, became famous for producing massacre movies based on true-to-life events during the 1990s.

They included The Vizconde Massacre: God Help Us! (1993), The Myrna Diones Story (Lord, Have Mercy) (1993), The Untold Story: Vizconde Massacre II- May The Lord Be With Us (1994) Lipa 'Arandia' Massacre: Lord, Deliver Us From Evil (1994), The Cecilia Masagca Story: Antipolo Massacre (Jesus Save Us!) (1994), The Lilian Velez Story: Till Death Do Us Part (1995), and Annabelle Huggins Story-Ruben Ablaza Tragedy (1995).

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Tony Calvento

The veteran journalist passed away on October 9 due to massive organ failure, according to his son.

He was a multimedia journalist for print, radio, television.

He was best known for “Calvento Files,” a crime and investigative show that started as a column in Philippine Star.

It was also made into a movie in 1997.

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Soxie Topacio

Film director Soxie Topacio succumbed to lung cancer at the Delos Santos Medical Center on the night of July 21, two years after he was diagnosed in August 2016.

Soxy, a stage actor, had been in showbiz for more than four decades.

Among the television shows he directed included Komiks, Ikaw Lang Ang Mamahalin, Daboy en da Girl, Marinara, Kung Mawawala Ka, Impostora, Atlantika, Nuts Entertainment, O Mare Ko, Obra, Moomoo & Me, Diva, Juan Tamad, Dear Uge, and Wattpad Presents.

The movies he directed included Kahit Minsan Lang (1997), Ded Na Si Lolo (2009), The Adventures of Pureza: Queen of the Riles (2011), and D' Kilabots Pogi Brothers Weh?!? (2012).

Ded Na Si Lolo became the Philippines entry in the Oscar Best Foreign Language Film category in 2010.

It was an achievement even if it didn't make it to the short list.

As an actor, Soxie was noted for his performance as Neneng in the ‘80s comedy show Duplex.

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Emmanuel “Maning” H. Borlaza

Another revered local director who passed away in 2017 was Emmanuel “Maning” H. Borlaza.

He suffered a heart attack on October 12 at the age of 81.

He was a former vice chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board or MTRCB.

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In his 40 years in the local movie industry, the veteran director made more than 100 movies, many of which were box-office hits.

He also directed some of the biggest stars in showbiz, the likes of Star For All Seasons Vilma Santos and Megastar Sharon Cuneta.

Among Vilma’s blockbuster movies he directed were Darna and the Giants, Lipad Darna, Lipad, and Dyesebel—all shown in 1973.

He was Sharon’s director in her movies in the ‘80s: Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin? (1984), Bukas Luluhod ang mga Tala (1984), and Bituing Walang Ningning (1985).

In the ‘70s, he directed Dama de Noche; Mrs. Eva Fonda, 16; Mga Rosas Sa Putikan; Makahiya at Talahib; Kampus; Kadete; and Romansa.

In the ‘80s towards the ‘90s, he directed the following films: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow (1986); Blusang Itim (1986); Ibigay Mo Sa Akin Ang Bukas (1987); Asawa Ko Huwag Mong Agawin (1987); Isusumbong Kita Sa Diyos (1988); Oras-oras, Araw-araw (1989); Kaputol ng Isang Awit (1991), Dyesebel (1996), To Saudi With Love (1997), and Mapagbigay (2000).

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Chinggoy Alonzo

Chinggoy Alonzo, a veteran actor, lost his fight against colon cancer on October 15 at the Chinese General Hospital in Manila.

The TV, movie, and theatre actor was 67.

Chinggoy started his career in theatre during the ‘60s.

He eventually crossed over to TV and in the movies.

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His film debut was Buhay Artista Ngayon in 1979, top-billed by Vilma Santos and the late Comedy King Dolphy.

He would often portray a wealthy patriarch or politician in acting projects.

His last film project was Etiquette for Mistresses in 2015 where he portrayed the rich lover of Iza Calzado’s character.

In television, he was part of Hahamakin Lahat on GMA-7 and the ongoing Kapamilya teleserye Wildflower.

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Former action star turned stunt director Teodoro Galan Baldomaro, popularly known in showbiz as Baldo Marro, died last October 22 at the age of 69 from health complications.

Prior to entering showbiz, Baldo was a taxi driver who idolized former action star Jess Lapid Jr.

He became himself an action actor and in 1988, he top-billed Patrolman, for which he bagged the Best Actor trophy at the Metro Manila Film Festival.

Later, Baldo became the fight director of GMA-7 teleseryes, notably Marian Rivera’s Amaya (2011) and the ongoing afternoon TV series Ika-6 Na Utos.

His other films included Boy Negro (1988); Iyo Ang Batas, Akin Ang Katarungan (1988); Tumakbo Ka Hanggang May Lupa (1990); Alyas Boy Tigas: Ang Probinsiyanong Wais (1998); Bukas, Babaha Ng Dugo (2001), and Masikip Na Ang Mundo Mo, Labrador (2001).

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Alfie Lorenzo

Veteran talent manager and entertainment columnist Alfie Lorenzo died last August 1 at age 78 after a heart attack.

Alfie was closely identified with Judy Ann Santos, whose career he managed for almost three decades until they separated paths in August 2016.

Alfie’s former talents included Ruffa Gutierrez, Sunshine Cruz, Karla Estrada, Jackie Forster, Edgar Mande, Lito Pimentel, Rey 'PJ' Abellana, and Jeffrey Santos.

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Herminio Bautista

Former Quezon City Councilor Herminio “Butch” Bautista passed away last February 12 at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City. He was 82.

The actor-film director was the father of Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, QC Councilor Hero Bautista, and Harlene Bautista.

He starred opposite the late Da King Fernando Poe Jr. in the 1956 movie Lo’ Waist Gang.

He also appeared in the 1980s films Bagets and Bagets 2, which also starred Herbert.

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Willy Cruz

Renowned Filipino composer Wilfredo “Willy” Cruz was in coma after a stroke and never recovered. He died a week later on April 17 at the age of 70.

Willy composed songs for Nora Aunor, Sharon Cuneta, Hajji Alejandro, Nonoy Zuñiga, and Pilita Corrales.

He had also written memorable movie theme songs.

He won 1st Prize at the World Popular Song Festival for the song "Araw-Araw, Gabi-Gabi" in 1975 and was awarded the Hall of Fame by FAMAS in 1989 for getting five trophies in the musical scoring category.

Some of his classic pieces were “Bituing Walang Ningning,” “Pangarap Na Bituin,” “Never Say Goodbye,” “May Minamahal,” "Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas,” “Doon Lang,” "Sana Maulit Muli," "Init Sa Magdamag," "Kung Mahawi Man ang Ulap," and "Sana’y Maghintay Ang Walang Hanggan."

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Zeny Zabala

The popular kontrabida in films died on August 8 from kidney failure. She was 80.

Zeny started her career in the mid-1950s and would become known throughout her acting career as a villainess beyond compare.

She remained active in showbiz until the 1990s.

She was the kontrabida to lead actresses Lolita Rodriguez in Binibining Kalog (1955); Gloria Romero in Ikaw Ang Aking Buhay; Rita Gomez in Talipandas (1958), and Susan Roces in Dance-O-Rama (1963).

She also worked with Gloria Romero in Hootsy Kootsy (1955), Barbara Perez in Berdaderong Ginto (1958), and Vilma Santos in Baby Tsina (1984).

She also did projects with the late Comedy King Dolphy in the 1980s sitcom John en Marsha and in his films John en Marsha '85 (1985), Kalabog En Bosyo Strike Again (1985), and Tataynik (1998).

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Amelyn Veloso

CNN Philippines news anchor Amelyn Veloso succumbed to liver cancer last August 24. She was 43.

Amelyn started as anchor in The Big News on ABC-5 in 1999.

The other programs she anchored at the network included Sentro, Sapul sa Singko, Aksyon, and Balitaang Tapat.

In 2013, she transferred to Solar News, now known as CNN Philippines.

Her last programs with the news cable network included Ang Serbisyo All Access and CNN Philippines Newsroom: Morning Edition.

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Joe Taruc

Joe Taruc, a pillar of Philippine radio, passed away on September 30 at the age of 70.

The radio broadcaster was an industry veteran and for 40 years a driving force in the success of DZRH.

A popular radio commentator on national issues, he anchored DZRH’S long-running public affairs radio program Damdaming Bayan and Pangunahing Balita.

He is also the father of GMA-7 reporter Jay Taruc.

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Mario Hernando

The sudden death of noted film critic and entertainment columnist Mario Hernando on September 5 deeply bereaved his friends and colleagues both in print journalism and showbiz.

Before his death, Mario was a board member of the Movie Television Review and Classification Board.

He was also a co-founder of Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, an association of film critics that mounts the annual Gawad Urian.

As a journalist, he was for a long time the Weekend editor of the broadsheet Malaya. He also wrote articles on movies for the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Philippine Star.

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A number of important people from the showbiz industry and news and public affairs industry passed away in 2017. They include (L-R) film director Soxy Topacio, actress Isabel Granada, Hashtags member Franco Hernandez, and veteran actress Zeny Zabala. 
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