After eight months of treatment and four excruciating chemotherapies, actor and Philippine rap icon Francis Magalona (Francis M. to his fans and Kiko to his friends), succumbed to leukemia yesterday, 12 noon at The Medical City on Ortigas Avenue in Pasig.
The news of the death of the 44-year-old rap star was heard across the Philippines when Vic Sotto announced it in Eat Bulaga. Magalona used to be one of the hosts of the popular noontime show until August last year, after he was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. The illness is the most common form of leukemia and is a fast- growing cancer that attack the blood and bone marrow. It was after the Eat Bulaga show in the United States when Francis, complaining of fever and body pains, went to a specialist and found out about his condition. From then on, it was a series of medication and chemotherapy until he was finally declared clinically dead at 12 noon yesterday.
Francis was the youngest son of 1950s legendary actors and celebrity couple Pancho Magalona and Tita Duran. In 1984, he was launched in the teen movie Bagets 2 along with Ramon Christopher and the late Jon Hernandez.
Magalona seemed to have found his calling in music—rap in particular. He started doing rap and became the first to successfully cross over to mainstream music. He became an advocate of Pinoy Rap and encouraged, as he inspired, upstarts in the genre to pursue their rap ambitions. His first album entitled Rap Is FrancisM was released in 1992 and immediately became solid gold. It produced numerous hits like “Mga Praning” (Paranoids), “Halalan” (Elections), and “Tayo’y Mga Pinoy” (We Are Filipinos). Many of the young generation would associate Francis M with the anthemic “Tayo’y Mga Pinoy,” a song that has been largely used in many Filipino-themed events here and abroad.
His songs, while sounding too eclectic for the general audience, were like modern poetry that dealt mainly with the ills of Philippine society.
Throughout his career, he was always with wife Pia Arroyo who also served as his manager. He has adopted Pia’s children by a previous relationship, Unna and Nicolo, when they got married. Francis bore Pia five children, Francis Jr., Elmo, Arkin, Clara, Saab and the most popular among them all, Maxene, who was last seen in Una Kang Naging Akin.
His last project was a collaboration with another music icon, Ely Buendia. Dubbed as The Sickos Project, the album features various artists on the local music scene. The progress of the project was detailed in his blog called “A Free Mind.” It’s on the same blog where Francis posted entries that detailed his battle against leukemia and how he did with chemotherapies.
In the last entry posted on Jan. 14, the prolific rapper said:
“I look forward to the pain as I know my journey is on full speed ahead. I will not be bold to say that without asking a favor from you all. Please pray for me as I undergo treatment. Your prayers, as always, have sustained me. And am sure the Lord will listen to all our prayers. To His will I submit myself.”
Francis Magalona’s wake is at the Christ The King church in Green Meadows.