Sylvia La Torre, the 'First Lady of Philippine Television', dies aged 89

The veteran actress was also known as the Queen of Kundiman

Sylvia La Torre, 89, is also known as the Queen of Kundiman, which is a classic style of Philippine love song. Here she's pictured at the Filipino American Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Facebook
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Veteran Filipina actress Sylvia La Torre, who was known as the Queen of Kundiman or First Lady of Philippine Television, has died aged 89.

The news was confirmed by her granddaughter, the singer and actress Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, on Friday via social media.

“RIP to my grandmother," wrote De Tagle. "First Lady of Philippine Television, Queen of Kundiman and Tandang Sora Awardee, devoted wife of Dr Celso Perez de Tagle, loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, caring auntie, and affectionate friend, died peacefully in her sleep on December 1st at 7:02 am. At the time of her death, she was with her husband of 68 years and her children, Artie, Bernie and Che-Che."

De Tagle, who has appeared in Hannah Montana, Jonas and the Camp Rock films, said her grandmother was her "first inspiration" for singing and acting. "She was my first vocal coach and taught me all of her kundimans.

"Thank you for passing on your love of music to me and I will surely continue your legacy. Gone too soon but always in our hearts. Your song has ended but your melody will linger on. Love you, Mama Cita.“

Born in 1933 in Manila, La Torre, who was a celebrated actress, singer and radio star, had worked in show business for about seven decades.

She started as a child singer on Ang Maestra in 1941 and then went on to star in comedies in the 1950s, becoming a household name in the 1960s after she joined the long-running ABS-CBN variety show Oras ng Ligaya.

Some of her best work is widely recognised to have been on Ulila ng Bataan (1952), Buhay Pilipino (1952) and Nukso nang nukso (1960).

She was also in more than 200 episodes of Biglang sibol, bayang impasibol.

As a singer, she recorded hundreds of kundiman and Pinoy novelty songs, including Waray Waray, No Money No Honey, Kalesa, Sa Libis ng Nayon and No Touch, Filipino Kostum.

Kundiman is a classic form of Filipino love song.

She acted in films until the 1990s and then focused on her singing career even after she and her family migrated to the US, where she worked to promote and preserve Philippine music.

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Updated: December 02, 2022, 6:58 AM