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Famous couturier Salazar dies at 59

- Millet M. Mananquil -
Joe Salazar, the king of Philippine couture, died yesterday, Valentine’s Day, at 5:30 p.m., amid love, piety and his signature humility that marked over three decades of a brilliant career in fashion.

The 59-year-old couture artist, a Ramon Valera Awardee and chief proponent of the Philippine terno, succumbed to tonsillary cancer, which he was diagnosed with in February 2002.

True to his humble ways, Salazar wished for cremation and a quiet wake, simple by design. Starting tomorrow, his remains will be at the Santuario de San Antonio at Forbes Park in Makati City, which he had willed to be the recipient of his favorite Blessed Virgin Mary statue.

Known to be such a meticulous perfectionist, Salazar died just minutes after waiting for his last bride, Michelle Santos, to fit her gown and for him to finalize the last-minute details on the gown. Shortly after, he died with his 16 seamstresses by his side.

The seamstresses said it was as if Salazar could not bear to leave a job undone and had waited until his last client had finished her final fitting.

Since last September, Salazar had been undergoing chemotherapy and, despite his frail condition, managed to create ternos for the tribute given him by the Metropolitan Museum. He was also able to finish several bridal gowns for selected clients, but had to turn down other numerous requests as his health started to deteriorate.

The patronage of friends in art and culture led by Ben Chan, Imelda Cojuangco, Sharon Cuneta, Gretchen Cojuangco, Mother Lily, Lucy Torres-Gomez, Nenita Lim, Naty Chua, Charlene Gonzalez and Mons Romulo-Tantoco sustained him and enabled him to undergo further medication in Singapore.

His last wish, according to his siblings Tessie Castillo, Lulu Baltazar, Ging Jones and Carlos Salazar, was for his artist-nieces Maritess Castillo and Regina Cordero-Jones to carry on and enrich the legacy of art and couture that he was leaving behind.

BEN CHAN BLESSED VIRGIN MARY CHARLENE GONZALEZ AND MONS ROMULO-TANTOCO FORBES PARK GING JONES AND CARLOS SALAZAR GRETCHEN COJUANGCO IMELDA COJUANGCO JOE SALAZAR LUCY TORRES-GOMEZ LULU BALTAZAR SALAZAR
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