Tributes pour in for legendary Philippine performers Tony Mabesa and Amalia Fuentes

<I> Tony Mabesa, at left, and Amalia Fuentes, at right. Photo: ABS-CBN News</I>
Tony Mabesa, at left, and Amalia Fuentes, at right. Photo: ABS-CBN News

The Philippine entertainment industry and fans of culture and the arts are paying tribute and mourning the deaths of two icons who died over the weekend.

While Tony Mabesa, a 70-year stage veteran, was being remembered as “a star whose shine will never dim,” Amalia Fuentes, a darling of the silver screen since the 1950s, was also the subject of loving tributes.

“You started it all for us. You have taught me so much in life. You were an inspiration,” multiple-award-winning actor Aga Muhlach, her nephew, wrote on Instagram. “You treated me like your son. I’m at a loss for words. Go rest now.”

Mabesa died of chronic illness at 10:20pm on Friday. He was 84. A native of Laguna province, the veteran actor and theater teacher worked in the Philippine entertainment industry for 70 years. He was the founder of renowned theater groups Dulaang UP and UP Playwright’s Theater in 1976. He is known for mentoring highly esteemed TV and theater actors Eugene Domingo, Irma Adlawan, and Nonie Buencamino, among many others.

Screenwriter-director Floy Quintos announced Mabesa’s death. Quintos said that the theater stalwart was “surrounded by family and friends” and that his family was asking for privacy as they mourn his death. Mabesa’s wake continues today at Arlington Memorial Chapels in Quezon City.

Film company Star Cinema described Mabesa in a Tweet as “a legend. A star whose shine will never dim.” They expressed gratitude for all his “contributions in this industry. Rest in Peace, Tony Mabesa.”

Fuentes died Saturday morning at her home in New Manila, Quezon City. She was 79.

Fuentes, born Amalia Margarita Amador Muhlach, first appeared on the silver screen in 1956 when she was 15. She racked up more than 160 acting credits. A native of Bicol with German and Spanish roots, Fuentes was often compared to American actress Elizabeth Taylor. Her last acting role was in a 2013 TV drama, Huwag Kang Mawawala.

Fuentes’ manager Lolit Solis told GMA News TV that the actress suffered a stroke prior to her death and had been bedridden for two years. 

Muhlach, her nephew, said his aunt would be reunited with her daughter Liezl Martinez, who died of breast cancer in 2015.


Fuentes’ wake was opened to the public last night at Mt. Carmel Church in New Manila, Quezon City.

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