Leila Benitez, original 'Student Canteen' host, dies due to COVID-19 complications


Posted at Apr 09 2020 05:20 PM | Updated as of Apr 09 2020 06:20 PM

Leila Benitez (middle) was one of the original co-hosts of ABS-CBN's 'Student Canteen.' ABS-CBN

MANILA — Leila Benitez, co-host of the pioneering variety show "Student Canteen," has passed away. She was 89.

Benitez died in New York City on Thursday morning (Manila time) due to complications from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), her son Gerry Roses told ABS-CBN News.

Benitez, along with Eddie Ilarde, Bobby Ledesma, and Pepe Pimentel, formed the original mainstays of "Student Canteen," which transitioned to television from radio in the late 1950s.

"Mga estudyante, they used to come in. This was their noon break. It became so big and so popular that it became a big, live amateur show," Benitez had recalled in 2013, when ABS-CBN celebrated the network's 60th anniversary.

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By the late '70s, Benitez moved to the United States, where she had since stayed and raised her children.

Benitez follows screen veteran Menggie Cobarrubias as a Filipino showbiz personality to have died due to COVID-19.

Other confirmed cases of celebrities in recent weeks include Christopher de Leon, Iza Calzado, and Sylvia Sanchez, who have all reported making progress in their recovery.