MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Pepe Pimentel, the host of the defunct hit game show "Kuarta o Kahon," died on Thursday morning. He was 83.
P01 Rodante Balmeo of Quezon City Police District - Station 10 confirmed the death of the game show host at 11:20 a.m.
Pimentel was found unconscious inside his house's bathroom past 10 a.m., according to Carlos Reyes, a barangay official who was one of the first to respond to the incident.
Reyes said Pimentel had no more pulse and his lips were already purple in color.
"It looks like inatake siya while inside the bathroom, nabagok ang ulo niya," Reyes told dzMM.
A nephew of Pimentel, Ramon, said the former "Student Canteen" host was not feeling well this morning and had already scheduled to meet his doctor.
Pimentel, who also served as chairman of Barangay Laging Handa, was living with his elderly wife Cecilia, young grandson James and some maids.
A report by radio dzMM's Johnson Manabat quoted James as saying that they initially had no idea what to do and had to seek the help of neighbors.
"May nag-respondeng kapitbahay kaya lang iyung decision kung papaano ang gagawin, wala silang makuhang katulong na magdadala kay Tito Pepe," Manabat said.
"Iyung CR na kinalalagyan ni Tito Pepe ay nandoon sa loob ng kwarto sa kanang bahagi ng tahanan. Nakatihaya si Tito Pepe. Nilagyan na lang ng unan ni kagawad. Pero yung dugo eh nandon pa rin sa ulo ni Tito Pepe."
Ramon said the remains of Pimentel would be cremated within the day, as it was Pimentel's wish when he was still alive.
Pimentel's ashes will be brought to a chapel in Pinaglabanan Church in San Juan, where family and friends can pay their last respects to the game show host.
Singer and comedian
Pimentel is best known as the host of the game show “Kuarta o Kahon,” which ran for 38 years on TV since it debuted in 1962.
However, he started his career in showbiz as a singer and was the first national champion of the amateur singing contest “Tawag ng Tanghalan.” In fact, when he first appeared on the show “Student Canteen,” he was one of the singers in the show. It was only later when he became a co-host along with Leila Benitez.
It was also at “Student Canteen” where he emerged as an effective comedian. Pimentel was known for his jokes about his mother-in-law.
In an interview with the blog “Blast from the Past” in June 2011, Pimentel said “Kuarta o Kahon” was inspired by an American game show in the 1950s called “Bidding the Box.” It began as a radio show called “Mahiwagang Kahon” before moving to TV, with Pimentel as the host, as well as the producer.
“No one owned its format, so I decided to produce it myself for KBS in 1962 as “Kuarta O Kahon.” I transformed it into a family show, where participants would come from all over the nation. I invited them by mail. Plus, I made sure that the contestants were genuine, and the winners would get their exact prizes,” he was quoted on the blog as saying.
In his later years, Pimentel was reported to have been suffering from various ailments such that former Hagibis member and actor Sonny Parsons organized a fund-raiser for Pimentel in late 2011.
That fund-raiser made headlines when his former “Student Canteen” co-hosts Eddie Ilarde and Coney Reyes reportedly refused to take part in the tribute show.
Meanwhile, network giant ABS-CBN said it mourns the passing of Pimentel, dubbing him "a pioneer in the world of TV hosting."
"Remembered as Tito Pepe, he was also the engaging host of other memorable TV programs like 'Student Canteen,' 'Hamon sa Kampeon' and 'The Pepe Pimentel Show.' ABS-CBN joins his family and the whole nation in remembering his great contribution to Philippine television. May his soul rest in eternal peace," the network said in a statement.
-- With reports from Johnson Manabat and Robert Mano, dzMM