Regine’s dad Mang Gerry dies in sleep
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - February 4, 2014 - 12:00am

The Songbird has just lost the wind beneath her wings.

At around 1:30 yesterday afternoon, Regine Velasquez’s father Gerardo Velasquez, fondly known as Mang Gerry in showbiz, died in his sleep at the hospital where he was rushed due to an emergency. Doctors said he died of cardiac arrest. He was 76.

“It was unexpected,” said Regine’s husband, Ogie Alcasid of Mang Gerry’s demise, even if he was suffering from a recurring pneumonia that required surgery last year, prompting Regine to post a petition on her Instagram for one million prayers for Mang Gerry’s speedy recovery.

Regine was not at her father’s side when he died. Usually on time for appointments, Regine arrived more than an hour late at Sir Boy’s Republique restaurant for a pocket presscon for her and Martin Nievera’s Voices of Love Valentine concert on Feb. 14 at the SM Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena.

“She was upbeat when she arrived,” recalled Aster Amoyo, one of the movie writers at the presscon, “at parang masaya pa siya. She was apologizing profusely for being late because she said she had just come from the hospital to check on her father.”

Asked how Mang Gerry was, Regine only said, “He’s okay.”

It was at around that time that Mang Gerry breathed his last, which coincided with the birthday of his other daughter Cacai Velasquez-Mitra. Regine had to rush back to the hospital.

Besides pneumonia, Mang Gerry also suffered from emphysema.

“Actually, he was already getting better after the surgery,” added Ogie who had to cut short the rehearsal for his own Valentine concert (Feb. 13, 14 and 15) Samahang Walang Ka-Valentine at the Music Museum and went to the hospital.  Mang Gerry was brought to the hospital also for his regular check-up. Ogie said Mang Gerry suffered severe stomach pains.

Mang Gerry was staying at the house of Cacai and her husband Raul Mitra during part of his treatment. Regine and Ogie’s house in Ayala Heights is undergoing repairs due to some leaks.

Mang Gerry was a quiet stage father, so unlike the parents of some showbiz stars who are notorious for taking center stage. He was self-effacing, preferring to stay in the sidelines when he attended Regine’s activities. He was soft-spoken, remaining quiet on issues involving Regine and only smiled when asked for his opinion. That’s why he was well-loved by industry guys.

It was Mang Gerry who trained Regine by making her sing while submerged neck-deep in the sea. A music-lover who was fond of singing Frank Sinatra songs, Mang Gerry would lead the family in singing sessions at home, with his wife Teresita on the guitar.

Mang Gerry was Regine’s hero, the wind beneath her wings.

According to Ogie, starting today, Mang Gerry’s remains will be at the Manila Memorial Park in Plaridel, Bulacan, giving this direction: From Manila, take NLEX exit to Sta. Rita, Bulacan; 500 meters from the exit, you will see the main entrance of MMP near Petron Gas station. Interment date hasn’t been announced.

The Velasquezes are from Barangay Tabang in  Plaridel.

*  *  *

Fresh from a three-month concert tour in Japan, the boy band Down To Mars came home with 340,000 yen (roughly (P151,000) that they gathered in coins at every venue where they performed (Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo, etc.). The band had the coins changed into bills which the five members turned over to the Red Cross at an event Monday last week at the Manila Hotel.

Down To Mars donates 340,000 yen to Red Cross

The five members are Daisuke Hagihara, Jeongwon Son, Jang Amparna, Kenji Chua and Kiro Rivera. The band originally had seven members. They are often mistaken for being K-Pop stars, not surprisingly because they have Chinese, Korean and Japanese blood.

Formally organized more than three years ago, Down To Mars got its name from the adjective down-to-earth, believing that the key to success is being, that’s it, down-to-earth. It’s believed that men come from Mars and women from Venus and that also explains the band’s choice of name.

The band was named ambassadors by Red Cross head Dick Gordon in February last year after they performed at a Red Cross fund-raising event at the Quirino Grandstand.

The idea of raising funds for disaster victims came naturally to the boys who wanted their Japan tour to be memorable. When they left in October, a killer quake had just hit Cebu and Bohol. They were in Japan when Supertyphoon Yolanda devastated Eastern Visayas. At every venue, they put up red boxes and appealed to the audience to donate coins for the Yolanda survivors.

If only other boy bands were like Down To Mars…

 (E-mail reactions at entphilstar@yahoo.com. You may also send your questions to askrickylo@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)

 

ASTER AMOYO AYALA HEIGHTS DOWN TO MARS GERRY MANG MANG GERRY OGIE RED CROSS REGINE
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