Of wedding bells, bouncing babies and heartbreaking goodbyes
While merry weddings and blissful news of births filled the year 2018, there were also many tragic losses that robbed the world of glittering stars. Today, The Sunday Times Magazine takes a look back at the highs and lows in the lives of famous celebrities in the Philippines and beyond.
Maxene Magalona and Robby Mananquil
Actress Maxene Magalona married musician Robby Mananquil in an all-white themed Boracay wedding. Three days before their big celebration, Magalona and Mananquil had an intimate church wedding at the Santuario de San Antonio Church in Makati City in front of their immediate families.
For her bridal march at the beach wedding, the daughter of the late great rapper Francis M chose his song “Girl Be Mine” as she walked toward her groom. But before mom Pia gave her hand in marriage, a brown butterfly hovered above the bride, a sign that the first most important man in her life was there on her special day.
Joey de Leon and Eileen Macapagal
After 35 years together and three children in between, ace comedian Joey de Leon and his longtime love Eileen Macapagal finally tied the knot on March 19. After a civil ceremony at the Supreme Court, the long-time couple held a reception at The Manila Hotel’s Champagne Room with their family and closest friends.
Rachelle Ann Go and Martin Spies
International theater actress Rachelle Ann Go married American businessman Martin Spies at Boracay’s Shangri-La Resort in April. Go’s showbiz colleagues and batchmates attended the highly anticipated wedding of the “Miss Saigon” (Broadway) and “Hamilton”(West End) star. Even if she had back-to -back shows in the world’s theater capitals, Go made sure she held her wedding here at home, and since then, the couple has been flying between London and the US to be together as often as they can.
Coleen Garcia and Billy Crawford
After meeting as hosts on ABS-CBN’s “It’s Showtime,” Coleen Garcia and Billy Crawford tied the knot in breathtaking Balesin Island on April 20. After a four-year relationship, they exchanged ‘I do’s’ against a backdrop inspired by the French Riviera with endless blooms of pastel. The ceremony was star-studded as expected, with Megastar Sharon Cuneta and showbiz’ favorite doctor Vicki Belo leading the principal sponsors.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Outside the Philippines, it was the union of Prince Harry of Wales and former US actress Meghan Markle that was dubbed the wedding of the year. After meeting on a blind date in 2016, their engagement was announced in late 2017 by Clarence House and Kensington Palace. Prince Harry gave Markle an engagement ring that holds two small diamonds belonging to the late Princess Diana.
The couple wed on May 19 at the St. George’s Chapel in Windsor in front of millions of viewers around the world.
The unexpected union was seen by the world’s press as a very modern and relevant development in the most famous and traditional royal family in the world, with elements of a mixed-raced marriage, a divorcee for a bride, and the coming together of an English prince and an American celebrity.
Queen Elizabeth 2nd received praises for giving Harry his blessing while the crown princes Charles and William took very important roles in the ceremony. Prince Charles walked Markle down the aisle after news surfaced her father had heart surgery and was unable to fly to the UK from California, while Prince William stood as best man.
Christian Bautista and Kat Ramnani
On November 17, singer Christian Bautista and telecom strategy director Kat Ramnani exchanged ‘I do’s’ at the Luhur Chapel in Bali, Indonesia. It was a wedding for the books with the couple’s choice of venue overlooking the Indian Ocean. The wedding was attended by both showbiz and business personalities from all over the world.
Ramnani surprised her husband with a song she had been practicing for four months. The couple plans to honeymoon in Africa in 2019.
* * * *Adorable babies
New generation Kardashians
It has been a controversial year for three of the Kardashian sisters as they were all expecting babies almost at the same time.
The first to welcome hers was Kim Kardashian-West. Her third with husband Kanye West named Chicago was born on January 15 through a surrogate.
After keeping her whole pregnancy a secret from the world, Kylie Jenner revealed to the public that she gave birth to a daughter named Stormi Webster on February 1. The father is Jenner’s boyfriend, rapper Travis Scott, whose real name is Jacques Berman Webster 2nd.
And then on April 12, Khloe Kardashian gave birth to a baby girl named True with basketball player Tristan Thompson. Her delivery happened hours after Thompson was reported to be cheating on her all throughout their relationship.
Saab Magalona and Jim Bacarro
The path to parenthood was far from easy for first time parents Saab Magalona-Bacarro and Jim Bacarro. Carrying twins—a boy and a girl—Magalona had a difficult pregnancy as she was in and out of the ICU in February.
In a blog post last March, Magalona revealed they had lost the baby girl, with their baby boy still in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit due to numerous complications and a surgery.
Luna is buried next to her grandfather Master Rapper Francis Magalona, whereas Pancho is healthy as ever, bringing joy to his parents with his guardian angel Luna up above.
Richard Gutierrez and Sarah Lahbati
Engaged couple Richard Gutierrez and Sarah Lahbati welcomed their second baby on March 21, a son named Kai. The baby is five years younger the couple’s eldest son, Zion.
Prince William and Kate Middleton;
Pippa Middleton and James Matthews
On April 23, Prince William and Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge (also known as Kate Middleton) welcomed their third child and second son, Prince Louis of Cambridge. Named Louis Arthur Charles after his paternal relatives, the new prince is fifth in line of succession to the British throne.
Meanwhile the Duchess’ younger sister Pippa Middleton-Matthews gave birth to her first child, a boy named Arthur Michael William Matthews on October 15. Her husband James Matthews is a former professional racecar driver and heir to the Laird of Glen Affric in Scotland.
Jolina Magdangal and Mark Escueta
The ‘90s teen star Jolina Magdangal and musician Mark Escueta welcomed their second child and first daughter Vika on May 28.
James Yap and Michela Cazzola
Rain or Shine player James Yap and partner Michela Cazzola welcomed a daughter named Francesca Michelle on June 27. Yap and Cazzola have been together for five years, and have a son named Michael James born in 2016.
Iya Villania and Drew Arellano
TV hosts Iya Villania and Drew Arellano welcomed their second son on August 19, whom they named Alonzo Leon. Leon, as he is lovingly called by his family and Instagram fans, has been undergoing a series of tests following his Newborn Screening. His Instagram followers continue to pray he will be given a clean bill of health.
After battling Stage 4 lung cancer, the veteran film and theater actor succumbed to the disease on January 14 at the age of 75. Manikan’s rise to fame began when he portrayed Orly in “Himala,” as the filmmaker working on a documentary on Elsa (Nora Aunor) and her struggling town. The iconic film gave him a Best Supporting Actor Award at the 1981 Metro Manila Film Festival. Since then, Manikan has collected 59 film and television credits to his name, all highlighting his talent as a very versatile actor.
The former actor and son of comedy king Dolphy died on March 15. He reportedly slipped into a coma after collapsing in a supermarket. He was best known for his role as Rolly Paruntong with his father in “John En Marsha,” as well as the film “Burlesk Queen” with Vilma Santos where he received a Best Actor Award at the 1977 Metro Manila Film Festival. He passed merely a week after his younger paternal half-brother Dino died.
Perhaps the most popular chef, traveler, writer, and TV host in the world in the last decade, the celebrity gourmand took his own life on June 8. The death of the “Parts Unknown” host elicited a huge outpouring of grief from foodies and travelers alike, mostly acknowledging his influence in their love for food and travel.
Even former US President Barack Obama, who was a guest on a Parts Unknown episode in Vietnam, paid a tribute to the late chef on Twitter: “He taught us about food―but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown.”
Dubbed the “Pillar of Philippine fashion” and the “Fashion Czar of Asia,” the world-renowned designer died of a heart attack on January 15 at the age of 92. Moreno was one of the first advocates of preserving and advancing the Maria Clara or terno, and paving the way for Filipino fashion designers to be known worldwide. His creations had been published in international fashion magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
The critically-acclaimed DJ and music producer died from unnatural causes on April 20 at 28 years old. Since his retirement tour in 2016 and a 2017 documentary titled “Avicii: True Stories,” the “Wake Me Up” producer had opened up about his his physical and mental health struggles.
At his death, his family released the following statement, “He really struggled with thoughts about meaning, life, happiness. He could not go on any longer. He wanted to find peace.”
Rising to fame as an action star for his lead television roles in the 1960s, Burt Reynolds suffered a heart attack on September 6. His rebellious yet likeable characters most notably in “Gunsmoke” started out his box office fame, followed by such classics as “Deliverance” in 1972 and “Smokey and the Bandit” in 1977.
After another short television stint in the ’90s, Reynolds returned to film in the controversial “Boogie Nights,” for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Jack Horner.
Maryo J. de los Reyes
The popular film and television director died on January 27 after suffering a heart attack at 65 years old. With a four-decade career in the movies, de los Reyes is remembered for his generation-defining works. The 1984 coming-of-age film “Bagets” tops the list, which features an all-star cast in Aga Muhlach, Herbert Bautista, William Martinez and Yayo Aguila.
He also helmed “Magnifico” starring Jiro Manio as the nine-year-old determined to give his family a better life. This 2003 film bagged numerous local and international awards thereafter and is considered as one of the best Filipino films ever made.
After battling depression and anxiety, the renowned fashion designer and businesswoman died by hanging on June 5.
Inspired by her work at a fashion magazine, Spade saw a large market for handbags that were functional but luxurious in design. The concept handed her a fashion empire, which eventually ran the gamut of stationary, phone cases, shoes, beauty products and eyewear.
Following Spade’s death, her family donated $1 million to various mental health organizations.
Reports started to spread in August that the Queen of Soul was seriously ill. After years of health problems, it was revealed the legendary singer died from pancreatic cancer.
Franklin was hailed not only a music star but a historical icon having supported civil rights groups and performing at protests against racial discrimination. She was the first black woman inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Rico J. Puno
Just two days before All Saints Day, fans, colleagues and the entire nation were shocked by the death of the OPM’s Total Entertainer on October 30, due to heart failure. He was 65.
Born Enrico de Jesus Puno on February 13, 1953, Rico J Puno broke through the music scene with his rendition of the Barbra Streisand song, “The Way We Were,” incorporating spoken lines and Filipino lyrics. His most memorable songs also include “Kapalaran.” “Buhat,” “May Bukas Pa,” “Macho Gwapito,” “Lupa,” “Ang Tao’y Marupok,” “Sorry Na Pwede Ba,” and “Magkasuyo Buong Gabi,” among many others.
Puno also entered politics as a Makati City councilor in 1998 through 2007. He ran but lost in the vice mayoralty race of the country’s prime municipality in 2010. He ran and won anew as councilor in 2016 and had been gunning for reelection in 2019.
The veteran theater and film actor, comedian, and director passed away on March 8 due to pancreatic cancer. Besides making a name in the theater scene, Bernardo also gained acclaim for his movie roles, among them his portrayal of Manay Sharon in “Manila By Night,” which earned him a Gawad Urian Award for Best Actor.
The 26-year-old musician passed away due to a reported drug overdose on September 7. Miller was said to be struggling with alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness. Miller was also a music producer and founder of a record label. Following the news of his death, his family released a statement saying, “He was a bright light in this world for his family, friends and fans.”
The actor who once played the tough but kindhearted Noah Puckerman in the teen musical “Glee” had been facing legal issues for years before his death on January 30. Not long before he passed, Salling pleaded guilty to child pornography charges whose penalties include being registered sex offender, going into psychological treatment, and spending four to seven years in prison. The 35-year-old was eventually declared to have died from suicide by hanging.
The 1995 Miss Universe titleholder succumbed to liver cancer on September 8 at 45 years old. In her first major pageant as Miss Texas USA, Smith was one of the first beauty queens to be of mixed race. She continued as a frontrunner in Miss Universe, again winning as the first mixed-race American.
She moved on to become a TV host and was named an Influential Multiracial Public Figure in 2011 for breaking barriers in the beauty pageant industry.
Iconic comic book writer and publisher, Stan Lee, passed away on November 12 at 95 years old. Earlier this year, Lee revealed that he had been battling pneumonia and had a declining medical condition.
Throughout his exemplary career, Lee was best known for co-creating characters that are more relevant than ever with artist Jack Kirby. His first superheroes were the Fantastic Four, followed by the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, and of course Marvel’s most successful hero, Spider-Man, among many others.
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