OPM singer Rico J. Puno, 65

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VETERAN SINGER and an icon of Original Pilipino Music (OPM), Enrico “Rico” J. Puno, passed away on Oct. 30 at the age of 65 due to cardiac arrest.

“He went for a regular check-up but [his doctors] decided to admit him in St. Luke’s [Medical Center] in Taguig City,” Norma Japitana, Mr. Puno’s long-time manager said in an interview with DZMM.

Ms. Japitana said he died at 1:56 a.m.

“I am seized with deep emotional shock when I found out that our OPM King — Kuya Rico J. Puno has passed away this morning,” Mr. Puno’s sister-in-law, Anna Puno, announced on her Instagram on Tuesday.

“Numbed with grief, I would like to call on all entertainers in the OPM industry as well as his worldwide fans to stop for a moment and say a prayer [for] one of the most respected singer in the country,” she continued.

In 2015, Mr. Puno underwent open heart surgery, followed by an angioplasty in August 2018 which included the installation of a pacemaker. Earlier this month, the singer was again hospitalized due to diabetes complications.

Mr. Puno was scheduled to perform at the Theatre in Solaire on Nov. 24 as part of the Music and Laughter concert series. He was to perform with comediennes Giselle Sanchez and Marissa Sanchez.

Earlier this year he joined fellow OPM icons Hajji Alejandro and Rey Valera, among others on a US tour titled OPM Hitmakers.

Last year, Mr. Puno also performed in Solaire as part of the celebration of his 40 years in the music industry.

“I cannot help but say it was serendipitous that Starmedia prepared a solo 40th anniversary concert for him and a US tour with OPM stalwarts and colleagues just recently. Little did I know that this [was] his final bow in the live entertainment world,” Ms. Puno said in her post.

Rico J. Puno, born on Feb. 13, 1953, started his musical journey in the early 1970s by performing in small clubs and folk houses in Metro Manila.

In 1973, he released his first single, “The Way We Were.”

Three years later, he won the Aliw Award for Most Promising Entertainer, followed by 1978’s Aliw Award for Entertainer of the Year.

Mr. Puno became a prolific concert artist, holding regular concerts in Quezon City’s Araneta Coliseum — the biggest performance venue at the time — and going on tours of the US.

He was also known for also cracking tongue-in-cheek, often off-color, jokes which led him to be named the “Total Entertainer.”

Some of his hits include “May Bukas Pa,” “Macho Gwapito,” “The Way We Were,” and “Magkasuyo Buong Gabi,” among others.

Mr. Puno’s passing led to an outpouring of grief from members of the local music industry including singer Martin Nievera who said in an Instagram post, “Rico J. Puno we will miss you! Now that you’re in heaven, behave! We love you!”

“Rest in peace kapitan. I’m in total shock at this news,” said singer Gary Valenciano in Instagram.

“Rest in Peace, Rico J. Puno. Your distinctive voice that lent itself to so much of the music of my childhood will not be forgotten,” said actress-singer Lea Salonga over at Twitter.

“R.I.P. Rico Puno. Shocked to hear about your sudden passing. We will always remember your beautiful songs and your unique way of interpreting them,” said singer Zsa Zsa Padilla on Twitter.

Mr. Puno is survived by his wife and four children. — ZBC