Friday night at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, vocal harmony group Tux member Carlo Bulahan asked his group mate Popo Suanes: “When will our next gig be?”
There won’t be any more, at least not for Bulahan. The next day, he succumbed to complications from colon cancer. He was 52.
Bulahan had been in hospital since Dec. 18, after doctors found fungus in his bloodstream, Suanes told the Inquirer. “He contracted pneumonia and other serious infections, which prompted doctors to tell us that we could only hope for the best,” he said.
“By God’s grace, the fungus and pneumonia disappeared a week or two ago. We were hopeful that Carlo would be able to go home,” Suanes related. “But he didn’t look too good when I last visited him—his face was ashen and he was very thin.”
Suanes recalled that last visit with Bulahan on Friday, with other Tux members, former and current: “I went with Jeric Mariano, Buboy Madrilejo and other friends. We actually had fun; we even took group photos. And though we were wearing surgical masks, we were all smiling.”
Tux is still reeling from the sudden loss of another member, Eric Antonio, last October. Suanes said Bulahan’s death was as huge a blow, but that they’re thankful the latter managed to survive for four years after being diagnosed in 2009.
As one of the group’s musical directors—along with Antonio and Monet Silvestre—Bulahan played a vital role in Tux, Suanes said.
“Despite getting tired easily, Carlo made it a point to perform one or two songs with us in shows before getting hospitalized,” he said. “This is tough for us. But we’re also happy that he’s now resting. He suffered a lot.”
Known for his distinct tenor, Bulahan stood out on account of his tall frame and good looks. Suanes described him as a funny, simple and down-to-earth person.
“He was like a brother to all. If there was a disagreement within the group, he would always lend an ear,” Suanes said.
Now, the singing group, which has represented the country in music festivals abroad, is left with five members—Suanes, Mariano, Silvestre, Manny Aquino and Dante Sibug.