Icons, newsmakers who died in 2016

MANILA, Philippines – In 2016, news on the deaths of some of the most respected politicians, pioneers, and icons came almost one after the other. 

There were also heartbreaking stories of inspiring Filipinos who were gone too soon.

Meanwhile, a number of infamous personalities made the headlines due to the circumstances of their deaths.

Here is a list of some of the local newsmakers who passed away this year.

In the gallery below, the surnames or screen names are arranged in alphabetical order. Click on a photo to read more. Click the arrow to the left or right of the photo to navigate through the gallery.

Jum Akbar, 53 Representative, Lone District of Basilan Wife of the late congressman Wahab Akbar, she was the governor of Basilan for 9 years before being elected to the House of Representatives in 2016. Photo from the House of Representatives website"> Akbar Helena Zoila Benitez, 102 Former senator As the 7th elected woman-senator (1967-72), Benitez championed environmental protection, women's rights, education, and culture and the arts. File photo by Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB"> Benitez Joseph "Blakdyak" Amoto, 46 Singer, comedian Blakdyak is known for his novelty songs including "Modelong Charing," "Noon at Ngayon," and "Asin at Paminta." Screengrab from YouTube/Al Auacay"> Blakdyak Stephen Bosworth, 76 Former US ambassador to the Philippines He was the US envoy to the country during the People Power Revolution in 1986. Photo by Salvatore di Nolfi/EPA"> Bosworth Gilbert Bulawan, 29 Basketball player Bulawan, a forward for the Blackwater Elite in the Philippine Basketball Association, suffered a massive cardiac arrest during game practice. File photo from PBA Images"> Bulawan Antonio Cabangon-Chua, 81 Businessman, former ambassador to Laos Founder of the ALC Group of Companies, Cabangon-Chua served as ambassador to Laos during the Arroyo administration."> Cabangon-Chua Eduardo Castrillo, 73 Sculptor Castrillo is the man behind iconic monuments like the People Power Monument on EDSA, the Kartilya ng Katipunan shrine in Manila, and the Heritage of Cebu shrine in Cebu City. Photo from eduardocastrillo.com"> Castrillo Renato Corona, 67 Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Corona was impeached and dismissed from office in 2012 after being found guilty of betraying the public trust and violating the Constitution for failing to truthfully declare his assets."> Corona Lilia Cuntapay, 81 Actress Cuntapay is known as Philippine cinema's "Horror Movie Queen" for playing bit roles like witches or ghosts in several movies. Screengrab from YouTube/6DoSfLC"> Cuntapay Virgilio "Baby" Dalupan, 92 Basketball coach The legendary PBA coach won a total of 15 championships for Crispa, Great Taste, and Purefoods."> Dalupan Wenn Deramas, 49 Director Deramas leaves behind a large body of work in the comedy and horror genres in TV and film. File photo by Manman Dejeto/Rappler"> Deramas Ricardo "Dick Israel" Michaca, 68 Actor Dick Israel is one of the perennial villains on the big and small screens. Screengrab from YouTube/ABS-CBN News"> Dick Israel Samsudin Dimaukom, 53 Mayor, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao The mayor was on the list of personalities allegedly involved in illegal drug operations. He was killed in a reported shootout with state operatives. Photo courtesy of the office of Mayor Rudy Caoagdan of Makilala town"> Dimaukom Erwin Dolera, 24 "Bangkang Papel" boy Dolera, who died from pneumonia as reported by dzMM, was one of the 3 "Bangkang Papel" boys presented by then-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in her 2001 State of the Nation Address (SONA). Photo from Twitter account"> Dolera Rolando Espinosa Sr Mayor, Albuera, Leyte Among the first alleged drug personalities named by President Duterte, Mayor Espinosa was killed inside his jail cell in a reported shootout with the police who were serving a search warrant. Photo courtesy of Chief Inspector Maria Bella Rentuaya, PRO 8 spokesperson"> Espinosa Enrique "Tet" Garcia Jr, 75 Vice Governor-elect, Bataan Garcia was a longtime governor and 1st district representative of Bataan, and had just been elected as the vice governor in the 2016 polls. Photo from Wikipilipinas"> Garcia Andrew Gotianun, 88 Businessman Gotianun was the founder of real estate conglomerate Filinvest Development Corporation and chairman emeritus of the Filinvest Group of Companies. Photo from Filinvest website"> Gotianun Japal Guiani Jr, 56 Mayor, Cotabato City Guiani was mayor of Cotabato City since 2010. Photo from City Government of Cotabato Facebook account"> Guiani Cecilio Hechanova, 84 Founding chairman, Philippine Sports Commission During his tenure as PSC Chairman (1990-92), the country hosted the 16th Southeast Asian Games, where the Philippines ranked second, only one gold medal short of Indonesia's haul. Photo from PSC website"> Hechanova Luis Katigbak, 41 Writer, author, and columnist Katigbak received multiple recognitions, including 4 Palanca Awards, a Philippine Graphic prize, and the Young Artists' Grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Screengrab from Luis Katigbak's Facebook account"> Katigbak Bishop Julio Labayen, 89 Retired bishop, Infanta, Quezon Bishop Labayen was the 1st national director of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA). He also went against the Marcos dictatorship through his IMPACT magazine. Photo from veritas846.ph"> Labayen Arturo Lachica, 57 Deputy commissioner, Bureau of Customs Lachica, head of the BOC's Internal Administration Group, was ambushed in Manila. Photo from LinkedIn profile"> Lachica Magdalena Leones, 95 World War II spy The brave special agent is the only Filipina and Asian female to receive the Silver Star Medal during the Second World War. Photo courtesy of Wilfredo Pascual"> Leones Tupay Loong, 69 Representative, 1st District of Sulu Loong was among the founders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), but he later quit to join government. He was elected governor of Sulu for 3 separate terms. Photo from House of Representatives website"> Loong Carlos "Caloy" Loyzaga, 85 Basketball player During his playing years, "The Big Difference" contributed to the success of the Philippine team in Asian basketball. He was also part of the PH team in the 1952 and 1956 Olympics."> Loyzaga Caitlin Soleil Lucas, 3 Also known as "Courageous Caitie" Baby Caitlin suffered from juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, a rare cancer of the blood affecting infants and toddlers. Image courtesy of the Courageous Caitie Facebook page"> Lucas Ernesto Maceda, 81 Former Senate President Known as Mr Exposé, Maceda served in the Senate from 1971-72 and 1987-98, and led the upper chamber from 1996 to 1998. File photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler"> Maceda Nestor Mantaring, 68 Former director, National Bureau of Investigation Mantaring rose from the ranks, becoming NBI director from 2006 to 2010. Photo from PCIJ blog"> Mantaring Leonard Mayaen, 63 Governor, Mountain Province Mayaen had just been reelected governor when he suffered a massive heart attack. Photo from Mayaen's Facebook page"> Mayaen Democrito Mendoza, 92 Labor leader Mendoza, co-founder of the Trade Union Congress Party, was one of the founding fathers of the labor movement in the Philippines. Image from Facebook"> Mendoza German "Kuya Germs" Moreno, 82 TV host, talent manager, actor The Master Showman paved the way to stardom for many of today's popular stars through shows like That's Entertainment, GMA Supershow, and Walang Tulugan. File photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler"> Moreno Ronnie Nathanielsz, 81 Sportswriter A recognizable and respected voice in Philippine sports, Nathanielsz was the spitfire sportswriter who bridged the eras of boxing legends Gabriel "Flash" Elorde and Manny Pacquiao."> Nathanielz Vincent Navarro, 23 Artist The young painter became known for using coffee grounds in a portrait series of Benguet coffee farmers. Screengrab from Instagram/baguio_vince"> Navarro Melvin "Boyet" Odicta Businessman, alleged drug lord The suspected drug lord and his wife Meriam were gunned down in Aklan, barely a week after he met with Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno to clear their names from drug links. Photo from Western Visayas police"> Odicta Cayetano Paderanga Jr, 67 Former secretary, National Economic and Development Authority As the socioeconomic secretary under the Aquino administration, he oversaw the establishment of the Public-Private Partnership Center."> Paderanga Francis Xavier Pasion, 38 Director Pasion was known for his award-winning independent films Jay and Bwaya. Photo by Jude Bautista/Rappler"> Pasion Emmanuel Peña, 25 Candidate for councilor, Calauan, Laguna The youth leader and UP Los Baños scholar who hoped to serve his hometown was killed in an ambush. Image from Peña's Facebook page"> Peña Rodolfo Reyes, 80 Journalist, former press secretary A multi-awarded journalist, he served as press secretary under presidents Ramos and Estrada. Photo from the Ateneo Library of Women's Writings"> Reyes Lolita Rodriguez, 81 Actress Rodriguez was hailed as one of the country's top actresses of her time. She got to work with acclaimed director Lino Brocka in the movie Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang. Photo from Facebook/Eduardo Perez Blanco"> Rodriguez Jovito Salonga, 95 Former Senate president Salonga was one of the country's most esteemed statesmen. He survived the Plaza Miranda bombing, was elected to the Senate 3 times, and headed the Presidential Commission on Good Goverment."> Salonga Miriam Defensor Santiago, 71 Former senator Miriam Defensor Santiago captivated Filipinos with her wit, scathing commentary, and humorous pick-up lines. File photo by Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB"> Santiago Roy Señeres Sr, 68 Representative, OFW Family Club party list Vowing to end contractualization, he ran for president in 2016 but withdrew from the race days before the start of the campaign period. File photo by Czeasar Dancel/Rappler"> Señeres Domingo Siazon Jr, 76 Former secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs He served as foreign secretary under presidents Ramos and Estrada. He also became ambassador to Japan and Austria, and held various posts in international agencies such as UNIDO and IAEA."> Siazon Gabriel Singson, 87 Former governor, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Singson is credited with laying the foundation of a strong central bank and banking system that helped the Philippines withstand, among other global challenges, the 1997 Asian financial crisis better than its neighbors. Photo from Ateneo de Manila University website"> Singson Virginia Torres, 62 Former chairperson, Land Transportation Office Torres was appointed head of the LTO in 2010, but retired in 2013 after figuring in a viral video that showed her playing in a casino. Photo from LTO website"> Torres Wenceslao "Peewee" Trinidad, 82 Former mayor, Pasay City He was mayor of Pasay City from 2000 to 2010. Photo from Trinidad's Facebook page"> Trinidad Miguel Varela, 76 Corporate laywer, businessman He served as president and chairman of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as president of the Employers' Confederation of the Philippines. Photo from NEDA website"> Varela Joy Viado, 57 Actress, comedian Viado portrayed funny, colorful characters in many TV shows and movies. Photo from Facebook"> Viado Lauro Vizconde, 77 Anti-crime advocate Following the murder of his wife and children in 1991, Vizconde founded the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC). Photo from Vizconde's Facebook page"> Vizconde


Michael Bueza

Michael Bueza is a researcher and data curator under Rappler's Research Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.