MANILA – OPM icon Claire Dela Fuente has passed away due to cardiac arrest early Tuesday morning. She was 63.
The veteran singer’s son Gigo confirmed her passing to composer-producer Jonathan Manalo, a family friend, and ABS CBN entertainment reporter MJ Felipe announced on Twitter at 11:03 am.
According to Gigo, her mom died in her sleep. He also shared that her mom had pre-existing conditions like anxiety, hypertension and diabetes.
“She died from cardiac arrest, believed to be a result of her stress and anxiety. My mom has anxiety, hypertension and diabetes and her tendency to worry, to stress a lot, led her to weaken and in her sleep her heart gave up,” he said.
Claire was admitted in the hospital after being tested positive for COVID-19.
“I myself, am COVID-positive but showing no symptoms that’s why I cannot be beside her. She was supposed to turn 64 this year.”
Gigo also opened up about some of the last moments she had with his mom.
“Yesterday, she was fine, I got to speak to her. Got to argue with her one last time, because she gave me the wrong address and she didn’t tell me she was transferred to another hospital. She made me order food for her,” he said.
“All the while, she kept worrying about me and my symptoms. I told her not to worry about me because she’s the one who needs, who is more at risk.”
Looking back, Gigo realized that there were some signs that her mom was already saying goodbye.
“There were signs and moments na like, for example, she asked me to stay with her, beside her for the last night she spend here at the house before she has to go to the ER. She wanted company,” he said.
“I took it as a sign na they knew in a way, they were already telling me na, they always love me… ‘Anak, ikaw na bahala okay.”
Gigo said that there will be no physical wake for his mother but he is planning to organize a virtual one for his mom “for her friends, for her relatives, for my friends who are deeply affected by this.”
Gigo described her mom as an “amazing woman” who was with him through all the battles in his life despite their differences.
“Yes we had our issues, yes sometime we don’t see eye to eye at times, but I know she loved me. It’s just nice or amazing to see that until the end, she was fighting for me. And she wanted to show me how much she loved me. I just didn’t get to tell her lang na I saw it. After all we’ve been through, she’s trying to be the best mom she could be.”
Claire, who has been dubbed as the “Karen Carpener of the Philippines” and also “Asia’s Sweetest Voice” is known for her hits in the 1970s with her jukebox hit “Sayang,” “Nakaw na Pag-ibig,” and “Minsan, Minsan.”
She was one of the noted “Jukebox Queens” in the 70s along with fellow music icons Imelda Papin, Eva Eugenio and Didith Reyes.
In those days, Claire revealed that she had cold war with rival singers Imelda Papin and Eva Eugenio.
“May iringan din kami nun. Mga bata pa kami nun siyempre iba ang ugali namin. But she said, they have grown to be close with each other and often see each other.
During an exclusive interview in 2017, Claire said that she was thrilled to hear her songs on the radio on weekends. “Naririnig ko yan. Proud ako dahil ilang artist ba ang may ganyan? Kokonti lang talaga kami.”
She also said that while her song “Sayang” is popular, her biggest selling record is “Minsan, Minsan.”
“’Yung “Minsan, Minsan” ang nag-confirm sa akin sa stardom bilang sikat na singer,” she said.
Claire was discovered by noted composer George Canseco when she joined a singing contest at the age of 15. George was a member of the board of judges and asked Claire if she wants to sing in a commercial. And she did. Claire was the voice behind the Hope cigarettes commercial.
When asked what she did for her first paycheck for her debut single “Sayang,” Claire said, “Naku and liit lang nun, ibinigay ko sa nanay ko para dagdag sa baon ko.”
Her pieces of advice of upcoming singers: Napakahirap kasi ngayon sa showbiz. If you want to succeed in your career, kailangan mo mag-focus. At saka dapat alam mo ang sarili mo at realistic ka. Kung hindi ka naman ganun kagaling, paano? Kung hindi magaling, move on na. Sa ibang career na tayo pumunta. Ganun yun, eh. Sa lahat ng bagay, pati sa negosyo, destiny rin ‘yan.”
Aside from being a renowned singer, Claire was also an entrepreneur who ventured into different businesses including restaurant and a bus company.
Her son Gregorio was her partner in one of her restaurants.
In January, Gregorio was tagged as among those who allegedly raped and killed Christine Dacera on New Year’s Day at a hotel in Makati City, and Claire was upfront in defending her son from allegations.
Claire revealed at that time, “Bakla ‘yung anak ko eh. Ang hirap i-admit pero alam ko ‘yun, matagal na, bata pa siya. Nagpapaka-disente siya,” she related.
Claire wished things to be fair, adding that they were also seeking justice for the death of Christine.
Gregorio, on his part, also denied the allegations. He said that he and his friends were with Christine until the end.