By Macon Araneta i FilAm Star Correspondent

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on October 29 said he was emotionally distraught with the death of singer and OPM (Original Pilipino Music) legend Rico J. Puno, a.k.a. Enrico De Jesus Puno,  due to heart failure  earlier that day.  He was  65.

“We started calling him the total entertainer even from his Spindle days. He not only sang well but was witty and all,” recalled Sotto.

Before his emergence in the local music industry in 1975-76, Sotto noted that high society did not care much about OPMs.

“Seldom would you find a local pop singer’s album in their homes,” also said Sotto, who was himself in showbiz before he entered politics.

“It was the songs and albums of Rico we produced and releases  that paved the way for the Filipino artist to be accepted in high society then. Rico will now be performing for a far Greater Audience. Goodbye my Friend,” further stated Sotto.

Sen. Grace Poe remembered that time when her late father, King of Philippine Movies, Fernando Poe Jr. brought Puno to their house to serenade her mother, veteran actress Susan Roces.

“We were so happy with his songs that gave inspiration to many Filipino generations. His songs:  Alaala, May Bukas Pa, Lupa, Together Forever and Macho Gwapito were all classic,” said  Poe.

She described the voice of Puno as “rare.” “Once you hear his voice, you know that is Rico Puno. Even the version of his new songs like “Ang Huling El Bimbo ng Eraserheads, was so different,” she stressed.

Photo: Rico J Puno (

“He’s an excellent singer! He’s an excellent host because he  can make his audience laugh,” said Poe who further stated that Puno is a total entertainer, an icon and a shining symbol of OPM.

“Thank you for your music, Rico J. Our deepest condolences to the bereaved family at this time of grief,” said Poe.

Anna Puno, Star Media Entertainment president, CEO and Puno’s manager confirmed his death.

In an interview on Dobol B on News TV, Norma Japitana, Puno’s manager for 35 years, said the singer went to St. Luke Medical City Global City Taguig  last October 28, for a regular check-up but was not allowed to leave the facility.

“Actually, he was there at the hospital for a regular check-up and then he was not allowed to go home,” she said, adding the singer’s cause of death was “heart-related.”

Japitana said Puno underwent heart surgery in the past and received a pacemaker in August.

Puno had a triple bypass operation in April 2015 and a benefit concert was held for him.

Puno was supposed to hold a concert in November, according to Japitana.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Malacañang expressed  condolences to Puno who he said contributed a lot to the Filipino music industry.