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Show business mourns passing of Isah Red, Mel Chionglo

Local show business woke up to sad news of the deaths of two entertainment industry luminaries on Saturday — highly regarded, respected and much-loved entertainment editor and journalist Isah Red and veteran movie director Mel Chionglo.

At the time of his death, the snappy editor, Isagani Red in real life, wrote a column for the Daily Tribune, “Spotlight,” and hosted an online talk show for the media company titled, “Tok Patok” with fellow veteran entertainment journalist Jun Nardo. He was a long-time entertainment and lifestyle editor of the Manila Standard and wrote a column, “Simply Red,” until his retirement in 2018.

Isah Red & Mel Chionglo


The Society of Philippine Entertainment Editors (SPEEd), which Red co-founded and was president emeritus until his last breath, confirmed the passing of the revered colleague in an official statement released noontime Saturday. He was 67.

“It is with pain and sadness that we, the Society of Philippine Entertainment Editors, confirm the passing of our president emeritus, co-founder, dearest friend and family member, the highly regarded, respected and much-loved entertainment editor and journalist Isah V. Red. We take solace that while he felt unwell these past few days, he died peacefully in his home this morning, without struggle or difficulty.

“We ask for your prayers for the repose of the soul of our beloved Isah, who we will always remember for his wit, candor, joy and love of life. We love you, Kapatid. You are irreplaceable. Rest in peace.”

SPEEd is composed of officers and members Ian Fariñas (People’s Tonight), Tessa Mauricio-Arriola (The Manila Times), Salve Asis (Pilipino Star Ngayon, PM), Maricriz Valdez-Nicasio (Hataw), Gerardine Fe Trillana (Malaya Business Insight), Dondon Sermino (Abante), Dinah Ventura (Daily Tribune), Jojo Panaligan (Manila Bulletin), Ervin Santiago (Bandera), Rohn Romulo (People’s Balita), Rito Asilo (Philippine Daily Inquirer), Jerry Olea (PEP), Dindo Balares (Balita), Nickie Wang (Manila Standard), Neil Ramos (Tempo), Eugene Asis (People’s Journal) and Nestor Cuartero (Tempo).

Wang, Red’s protege and replacement at the Manila Standard, shared the medical bulletin issued by adult medical specialist Hernando Delizo that around 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, he was called to attend/check on the latter.

“I checked the vital signs, no airflow, no cardiac activity, no pulse, no movement on painful stimuli. I am certain he has been dead for at least two to three hours,” the doctor said in his bulletin.

Delizo quoted Red’s kasambahay (housemaid) that the day before, the editor-columnist had difficulty standing, was short of breath and would fall if he stood up by himself. Despite the kasambahay’s insistence to bring Red to the hospital, he refused.

The editor-columnist was widely known in showbusiness for greeting birthday celebrators in his circle everyday, regardless if the person is a celebrity or an ordinary friend of his.

Red finished a Communication Research course from the University of the Philippines Diliman in 1981 after taking Broadcast Communication earlier from 1969 to 1971. He finished high school as second honor at Libon Community School, then entered St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Tabaco, Albay. He also worked as a writer for various television programs, including “Eat Bulaga” from 1984 to 1985; public relations writer and account executive at McCann Erickson; and in government agencies, ABC Resettlement Project and the Department of Public Information Bureau of Standard for Mass Media during the Marcos era.

His wake starts today at the Sta. Rita de Cascia Church, Philam Homes in Quezon City.

Meanwhile, Cultural Center of the Philippines artistic director Chris Millado confirmed Chionglo’s death in a Facebook post on Saturday, writing, “Very sad to announce the passing of dear colleague and renowned film director Mel Chionglo.”

Chionglo was 73 years old. One of his latest projects was spearheading the annual Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, where he was a member of the executive committee.

According to the tribute that the Directors’ Guild of the Philippines Inc. (DGPI) posted, Chionglo began his early career in show business as production designer for classic hits such as Mike de
Leon’s “Itim,” Ishmael Bernal’s “Salawahan,” Eddie Romero’s “Aguila” and Lino Brocka’s “Ina, Kapatid, Anak.”

The talented artist eventually made his own films. He debuted as a director in 1981 with the film “Playgirl” and went on to make other masterpieces: “Midnight Dancers,” “Lagarista” and “Burlesk
King,” which was screened at the 2000 Berlin International Film Festival’s Panorama section.

Chionglo co-founded the GDPI and later on headed the monitoring committee of Cinemalaya.

“He was also an industry leader and mentor, respected for the deep wisdom he would quietly share among veteran colleagues and upcoming filmmakers,” part of DGPI’s tribute to him read.

Tributes poured for the director later on social media.

On his Facebook page, director Joey Reyes wrote, “Rest in Peace, my dear friend. We will miss you, Mel Chionglo.”

Film Development Council of the Philippine Chairman Liza Diño, whom Chionglo directed in 2002 films “Two Timer” and “Xerex” also took to the social media site to salute the director.

“Thank you, direk Mel. Sa talento at passion mo that you selflessly gave to us and industry. Even until the end. Mahal kita, direk. Hanggang sa muli. Rest in peace.”

With a reports from CHRISTINA ALPAD

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