VETERAN actor Spanky Manikan passed away on Sunday, Jan. 14, after losing the battle against lung cancer. He was 75.
His wife, actress Susan Africa, confirmed the news of his demise via a text message to Mr. Manikan’s manager, saying her husband “peacefully joined his Creator at 11:41 [a.m.] today,” according to a report by ABS-CBN News.
In a separate Facebook post posted the day of Mr. Manikan’s passing, Ms. Africa said: “Rest in peace my beloved Pangga. The greatest love of my life.”
Mr. Manikan’s career spanned more than four decades after getting his start in a 1972 in a Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) production of Halimaw, written by Isagani Cruz and directed by Nonon Padilla. He acted with different theater companies including Dulaang UP, the Manila Metropolitan Theater, Bulwagang Gantimpala, and Tanghalang Pilipino (TP).
One of his last theater credits was in TP’s 2012 season ender, Eyeball: New Visions in Philippine Theater, which featured the four best plays of the Virgin Lab Fest that year. He played Daddy in Maliw, about a father dealing with the disappearance of his child. The role was notable as it was the first time in over a decade that Mr. Manikan returned to the stage.
In 2014, he received an Aliw Award for Best Actor (for a non-musical play) for playing Zacarias Monzon in TP’s Mga Ama, Mga Anak.
Last year, PETA honored him with a Citation of Recognition as part of the theater company’s 50th anniversary celebration.
In 1975, Mr. Manikan crossed over to the silver screen with Lino Brocka’s Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag, followed by 1981’s Bona. A year later, Mr. Manikan played Orly, the apathetic documentary filmmaker in Ishmael Bernal’s Himala, earning the Best Supporting Actor award in that year’s Metro Manila Film Festival.
On TV, his credits include GMA Network’s Kung Mawawala Ka (2002) where he played Gen. Gonzalo, ABS-CBN’s, May Bukas Pa (2010) as Milo, and Walang Hanggan (2012) as Herman Cadenas, among many others.
His last television role was in GMA’s My Love from the Star (2017) where he played Juan “Jang” Avanado, a role he left after he was diagnosed with cancer. He was replaced by Crispin Pineda.
Among those who mourned Mr. Manikan’s passing was director/writer Jose Javier Reyes who wrote on Twitter: “May you have a safe journey back to the arms of the Father. Thank you for a life inspired by your talent and love for your work for film, television and stage. You will never be forgotten,”
“Why is Spanky significant for me? He sang many of my songs in the earlier period of PETA… He was my most favorite vocalist… interpreting my song with exquisite musicality, beautiful tone quality, emotive power, and most of all soul. He knew the inner voice of my music,” Lutgardo Luz Labad, noted composer and film scorer, said in a tribute posted on his Facebook page.
“Despite all my weaknesses in those years, he truly trusted my humanity. He loved me so much as a friend and brother and musical colleague — in the same level as I did love him too… We will surely miss you. Now Rest in peace and hug for us all our common friends who have passed on earlier,” he added in his post.
Meanwhile, playwright/director Frank G. Rivera composed a sonnet, “Para sa Familia Manikan (For the Manikan Family: A Sonnet for Mourning),” which reads in part: “Kapara nga’y ilog patungo sa dagat/ Bayaang maglayag ang yumaong liyag/ Huwag mamaalam sa inyong pag-ibig /Pabayaang luha, maghatid sa langit (Like a river heading for the sea/ leave our fallen beloved be/ Do not say goodbye to your love/ Let your tears accompany him to heaven).”
Mr. Manikan is survived by his wife and their three children. — Zsarlene B. Chua