MANILA, Philippines (5th UPDATE) – ABS-CBN's "The World Tonight" news anchor, Angelo Castro Jr., succumbed to cancer on Thursday.
The 67-year-old Castro, a pillar of broadcast journalism, passed away at the St. Luke's Medical Center in Quezon City. He had a long and courageous fight against lung cancer.
He is survived by his wife June Keithley, eldest son Diego, and other family members.
Castro’s eldest son said his father died peacefully at 1:11 p.m.
Castro joined ABS-CBN in 1986 when it re-opened after the EDSA revolution. He anchored several news and current affairs specials in ABS-CBN and ANC, including the ANC Chronicles, a special on the top stories covered by ANC over the past 15 years.
Castro is known for being the male anchor of “The World Tonight” since it returned on air on ABS-CBN in 1986 and moved to ANC in 1999.
He took a break only for two years due to his illness until his return in 2011.
His health, however, continued to deteriorate, forcing him to leave the show anew.
Castro's last words
He had been confined in the hospital for 3 months and was first admitted due to pneumonia.
His son Diego said his father was not able to speak for the last 4 days.
Diego said the first and last time his father spoke was right before he died when he said, "Let me rest."
Diego also said his family did not expect the outpouring of support from colleagues in the broadcast industry.
Castro's wife, June Keithley Castro, recently appeared on ANC revealing both their fight against cancer. Keithley was diagnosed with cancer of the breast in 2009.
“No, he’s not well… My husband has always been a very handsome, macho, control freak… So I had to tell his doctors, ‘You know it’s very difficult for him now because it’s out of his hands, di ba? He can’t control it,’” Keithley revealed.
“I went to him and I said, ‘Okay, you can’t do this to the kids, ha.’ I told him, ‘You better fight.’”
Castro's remains were cremated Thursday afternoon, and a private wake followed at his residence.
Castro’s family is also arranging a memorial service at the ABS-CBN compound in Quezon City.
After the wake, his remains will be kept near a pond in his home.
Palace, colleagues, friends pay tribute
Meantime, the Office of the President, politicians, ABS-CBN colleagues and fans mourned the passing of Castro.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda called Castro, anchor of "The World Tonight", a "calm reassuring presence in the late evening news."
"His passing marks the closing of an era of gentlemanly broadcasting, where erudition and dignity were the hallmarks of news and current affairs," he said.
ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs Department head Ma. Regina Reyes said Castro was both a manager and mentor to many in ABS-CBN.
"We deeply mourn the passing of an icon. Angelo was our leader in the pioneering years of ABS-CBN News. He is more familiar to the public as the suave news anchor with a smooth delivery and calming presence in The World Tonight. But to those of us who knew him well, Angelo was also an effective taskmaster, a creative thinker and an innovator. He created TV Patrol - he was the program's first producer and director when it was launched in 1987," she said, in a statement.
Even in later years, Reyes said they would turn to him for "advice, a few drinks and a good laugh."
"Even after he fell ill, Angelo never lost his sense of humor, nor his passion for broadcast journalism - giving critiques, calling attention to a missing detail or the occasional bad lighting. With his passing, I lost a mentor and a great friend. I will miss him dearly," she said.
ABS-CBN Corp. also issued a statement on Castro's death.
"ABS-CBN mourns for the passing of veteran broadcast journalist Angelo Castro Jr, who has been an icon of Philippine broadcast news. ABS-CBN is thankful for his contributions to media and many years of service as its news anchor for The World Tonight. We enjoin the public in praying for the eternal repose of his soul," said Bong R. Osorio, ABS-CBN Head of Corporate Communication.
Co-anchors remember ACJ
Tina Monzon-Palma, the co-anchor of Castro in “The World Tonight,” said the veteran broadcast journalist had always wanted to return to broadcasting even while battling cancer.
Palma said Castro "missed 'The World Tonight' a lot."
“I would know that he asked people to send scripts to his home because he wanted to feel how it was to do the news all over and I think at some point he wanted to know if he looked good so he asked the make up artist to apply make up on him. He even asked candidly, ‘Ano, pwede na ba ako bumalik?’” Palma told ANC on Thursday.
“He wanted so much to come back,” she added.
After a two-year hiatus, Castro returned to anchoring "The World Tonight" on November 7, 2011.
Palma recalled how Castro was excited and worried at the same time after taking a break.
“He was really so excited and he was worried as how he conducted himself as far as his reading is concerned. He never lost his voice,” she said.
Senator Loren Legarda, a former co-anchor of Castro on "The World Tonight" for 12 years, said Castro was an outstanding broadcaster and producer who always sought excellence.
She said Castro had a “righteous temper” because “he always wanted everything right.”
Legarda, who is the godmother of Castro’s son, Diego, said she knew Castro as a kind and funny man.
“Even if he may be perceived differently by other people, knowing him for 12 years, day in and day out, he had a kind, kind heart,” she said. “I love Angelo, we were a family,” she said.
Messages on Twitter
Many took to microblogging site Twitter to express their condolences and recall Castro's contributions to the news industry. For most of Thursday afternoon, "Angelo Castro Jr." was a top trending topic on Twitter.
Manuel L. Quezon III, Undersecretary of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, tweeted: "A generation has signed off with the passing of Angelo Castro Jr. He made Old School perennially cool with his baritone brand of sober news."
Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan also said: "We mourn the loss of Angelo Castro Jr. He was a colleague in the newsroom for many years. An icon. He will be missed. Farewell, brother! When I see you in the sun, I will tell you much."
Senator Koko Pimintel extended his condolences to Castro's family and his colleagues at ANC.
Department of Health spokesperson Eric Tayag said Castro was one of the "finest in broadcast media." "Reporting news as they are, no frills, just plain old-fashioned news," he said.
Former Commission on Elections Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal tweeted: "Watching the evening news will never be the same. Our family's condolences to the family of Angelo Castro, Jr."
'News without bias'
Teddy Boy Locsin, Jr., who is also part of "The World Tonight," said Castro "showed how to tell news, without bias, without irony, just telling it like it happened."
ABS-CBN News and ANC personalities Gel Santos Relos, Gigi Grande, Julius Babao, Marie Lozano, Jenny Reyes and Boyet J. Sison also tweeted their condolences.
Reporter Dyan Castillejo recalled that she joined "The World Tonight" in 1992 when it featured Castro, Loren Legarda and Ces Drilon.
Former ABS-CBN reporter Gilbert Remulla posted this message on Twitter: "To my senior brod, former boss and broadcast mentor Angelo Castro Jr - When I see you in the sun, I shall tell you much."
BBC anchor Rico Hizon also posted this Twitter message: "My deepest condolences to the family of the late Angelo Castro Jr, a great news anchor and a pillar in Philippine broadcast news." -- With a report from Jenny Reyes, ABS-CBN News