MANILA, Philippines—True to the lyrics of the theme from his popular 1980s “Champoy” television show, life was “bitter-sweet-and-sour” for actor Subas Herrero, who died in Rochester, New York, on Thursday (2 a.m. Friday in Manila).
His sudden death stunned family members and friends as he seemed to be well on the road to recovery.
The actor, Ricardo Wright Herrero in real life, would have turned 70 on April 3.
His youngest son, Choy Herrero, the only one of his five children living in the country, said the news was a shock to the entire clan.
“My mom had just spoken to my dad an hour before he passed away. I was told his heart stopped beating because he suffered double pneumonia,” he said in a phone interview.
The younger Herrero said he would sometimes chat with his father on Facebook. “Last time we talked online, he expressed sadness over the passing of (the comedian) Dolphy,” he said.
On Saturday, colleagues are mourning Herrero whom many hailed as a consummate professional, and a versatile singer-actor and comedian.
Noel Trinidad, Herrero’s “Champoy” partner, was stunned by the sad news. The two had just talked a week before and Herrero was “upbeat and happy,” he said.
“He said that he was able to stand up unaided for the first time. He looked forward to walking again after his therapy,” he said. Herrero moved to the United States three years ago, said Trinidad.
The late comedian had been wheelchair-bound as a result of some mild strokes and other health issues caused by diabetes, said Herrero’s son.
“I will miss him. Every time I was in New York, I would call him,” said another “Champoy” costar, Tessie Tomas. “He remained cheerful in spite of his health problems. I found that inspiring,” she said.
Friends chose to remember the good times with Herrero.
Jun Urbano, who directed some episodes of “Champoy,” recalled that Herrero owned a Spanish restaurant called Señor Subas along E. Rodriguez Ave. “His wife was a great cook,” he said.
“He was a gentle giant with a great love for life, food and drink, friends and family and the performing arts,” said another “Champoy” costar, Mitch Valdes.
“I couldn’t stop crying when I heard the news. I’ve known him since high school,” said Gary Lising, another “Champoy” cast member. “We were like family.”
Trinidad said their tandem was named after a Chinese champoy (plum fruit preserve) brand called Fat and Thin since he was slim and Herrero was chubby.
Herrero is survived by his wife, Maripaz, and children Sandra, Inez, Cutuy, Marimi and Choy.