Alexander Martin Remollino

The death of Francis Magalona, or Francis M., last March 6 from leukemia took the whole nation by surprise. At the time of his death, he was scheduled for a stem cell transplant.

His passing left a void in Philippine music that will not easily be filled.

The early part of his career was not without controversy, but Magalona rose above this and eventually established a reputation as one of the most intelligent and talented persons to break into the Philippine music scene in recent history — not to mention one of only a few who infused relevance into their work.

Though he was born into a family that is among the elite of Negros Occidental, he dedicated his work to tackling issues that affect the Filipino masses.

He started out with his rap performances in several variety shows in the late 1980s, but it was his 1990 album Yo! that firmly established his reputation as a rapper.

Yo! included the nationalistic “Mga Kababayan”, which asserts Filipino national identity. What he started with “Mga Kababayan” he followed with such hits from subsequent albums as “Man from Manila” and his adaptation of Heber Bartolome’s “Tayo’y mga Pinoy”.

In his later songs he would take up more and more issues which included corruption in government, the lack of real independence and economic progress, soaring prices of basic goods and services, hunger and poverty, corporate greed, landlessness and land-grabbing, conflict and disunity.

It is not just in the content of his work that he is to be admired, however. The aesthetic quality of his work shows that art and politics can mix and mix well, unlike what the local counterparts of T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound insist on saying.

In a post on his blog ( on Nov. 20, 2008, he was calling on everyone to “defend the Filipino nation and our people…by taking patriotism to the streets, to the youth, to the men and women who care.” Here was an artist who was taking up the challenge of being also a patriot — and not only in word but also in deed.

Magalona’s death is a big loss to Philippine music — and to the struggle for a better Philippines. But he will live on through his songs and our rightful response to these.

Francis M. is dead, long live Francis M.

Alexander Martin Remollino

Alexander Martin Remollino was's associate editor. He was a poet, essayist, and journalist. He also wrote some short fiction.

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  1. Our idol francis m.was killed by ill sideeffect of chemotherapy the doctors are liable they have negligence if they only done bone marrow transplant earlier francis could be saved.what a big regret why they didn’t try to bring francis m to natural alternative doctor and faith healers many cancer patient has been heal thru this way. francis m.we will miss you for life i know youre going to be in heaven co’z you been a very good man a role model and inspiration to is a must francis M.should be honor as national artist for music he made a lot of nationalistic/socio-political songs out of 18 music album he recorded.he is very nationalistic in all aspect he put patriotic tattoo on his body also made patriotic shirt and movies he was an activist too.truely francis magalona the great is our modern national hero icon viva magalona ADIOS FRANCIS.condolence to his family.GODBLESS

  2. FM shall stay in our hearts and mind and to every filipino’s who new him… I think everyone has its own kind of death designed by god
    But i know,That He is in the right path were the real master is waitng for the master rapper…

    Francis M is just around the corner.

    francism a friend, an idol,an influence,a nationalist.

    your memory still lives on…your music will still be heard..we will not depart from it. even the next generation!!!

    God bless your soul.



  3. we salute you…….

    your number one please watch our action from there up high….

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