FrancisM battling the Big C

Philippine Star – It started as blind items in the tabs, referring to “a singer-actor TV host confined at the ICU” of an unnamed hospital. Yes, the “singer-actor TV host” being referred to is Francis Magalona who has been conspicuously absent from Eat, Bulaga! for several days now.

Photo by Mari Arquiza via Flickr

Yesterday on 24 Oras in a phone-patch with Chika Minute host Pia Guanio, Francis’ wife Pia Arroyo confirmed that Francis has been diagnosed to have leukemia and is confined at the ICU of a hospital in Pasig City.

But he’s not unconscious, contrary to rumors.

“He’s in high spirits,” said Malou Choa-Fagar, vice president of TAPE, Inc., producer of Eat, Bulaga!, “and he’s raring to go back to Eat, Bulaga!”

Francis is suffering from a treatable type of leukemia, the same one Hollywood actor Ryan O’Neal is a survivor of.

A few months ago when the Eat, Bulaga! guys mounted a show in Las Vegas, Francis reportedly suffered from fever in the afternoons (a bad symptom, according to doctors) coupled with “dizzy spells,” turning pale in the process.

“Rudy (Fernandez) experienced the same afternoon-fever symptoms, so you better see a doctor,” somebody advised Francis.

So Francis did. His and wife Pia’s worst fears were confirmed. (The couple has eight children.) Francis is the son of ’50s showbiz royal couple Pancho Magalona (who died from complications of emphysema) and Tita Duran (who died from complications of a kidney ailment).

Yes, what’s in the blog is true: Francis needs Type O blood (paging Tita Rosa Rosal, head of the Philippine National Red Cross!). Donors are welcome.

Funfare is requesting its readers to pray for Francis’ speedy recovery. Remember, as the poet said, more things are wrought by prayers than this world dreams of. Prayer can move mountains.

Meanwhile, stay tuned to Eat, Bulaga! today. Host Vic Sotto will make an “important announcement.”

* * *

Funfare’s Toronto-based “international correspondent” Ferdinand Lapuz has two good news:

1. Brillante “Dante” Mendoza’s Foster Child won the NETPAC Award at the 17th Brisbane International Film Festival held in Australia from July 31 to Aug. 10. Last month, the same film won Best Film and Best Actress (for Cherrie Pie Picache) at the Durban International Film Festival. It was Cherrie Pie’s second Best Actress award from Durban, following last year’s (for Kaleldo). Foster Child also won Best Film at the New Delhi Filmfest last year.

It’s Dante’s third NETPAC award. He has previously won in Jeonju for Kaleldo in 2007 and for Tirador in Singapore early this year. It’s his second award from Brisbane, after Masahista which won the Interfaith Jury award in 2006.

Produced by Robbie Tan’s Seiko Films and written by Ralston Joel Jover, Foster Child is represented by Ignatius Films in Canada.

2. Serbis, also by Dante, has been officially invited to the 46th New York Film Festival from Sept. 26 to Oct. 2. It’s the first Filipino feature film to be accorded that honor by the NYFF.

Distribution rights (in the US) to Serbis, which had its world premiere in the Competition Section of the Cannes Film Festival last May, has been acquired by Regent Entertainment. According to Regent agent Fortissimo Films, Regent is planning a fall theatrical release. Serbis is Regent’s first US acquisition of a Filipino film in several years.

After Cannes, Serbis was acquired for distribution in Greece, Israel, Thailand and Benelux. French co-producer Swift Productions will handle the theatrical release under its Equinox distribution. There’s also pending negotiations with Maximum for the Canadian rights.

Written by Armando “Bing” Lao and starring Gina Pareño, Jaclyn Jose, Julio Diaz, Coco Martin and Kristoffer King, and introducing Mercedes Cabral and Roxanne Jordan, Serbis was also screened in the Rome Asian Filmfest and Jerusalem Filmfest. It has been invited to filmfests in Toronto, Vladivostok (competition category), Pusan, Rio de Janeiro, Thessaloniki and Vancouver.

Clint Eastwood’s provocative drama Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie as a single mother in 1928 Los Angeles who returns home to find her nine-year-old son missing, will open the New York Filmfest. Closing film is Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler.

(E-mail reactions at or at – Ricardo F. Lo (Philstar News Service,

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