YOUNG ACTOR DIES IN FALL FROM CONDO

MANILA, December 30, 2003  (STAR) By Non Alquitran And Maridol Rañoa-Bismark - Young actor Marcelino "Miko" Sotto, a nephew of Sen. Vicente Sotto III, died after he fell from the 8th floor of a condominium building in Mandaluyong City before dawn yesterday.

Police said Miko, 22, was declared dead on arrival at the Mandaluyong City Medical Center (MCMC) due to a fractured skull.

Superintendent Ericson Velasquez, Mandaluyong City police chief, declared his death as an accident based on the initial testimonies of San Francisco Gardens security guards and Miko’s actor cousin, Vittorio "Oyo Boy" Sotto.

Oyo Boy maintains a unit at the building, which is located at the corner of Sacrapante street and Boni Avenue in Barangay Barangka Itaas, Mandaluyong.

Miko is the son of the senator’s brother Maru and actress-designer Ali Sotto while Oyo Boy is the son of actor and TV host Vic Sotto.

The cousins and a friend, Marco Medina, were sitting on a plant box near the ledge of the building’s 8th floor when a security guard noticed them at around 4:45 a.m.

The guard ordered one of the roving guards to ask the trio to stay off the railing to prevent an accident.

Security guard Orlando Salvante said he was some 10 meters away from the group when he saw Miko slip and trip on the plant box. Before the others could react, Miko went over the railing, Salvante said in his two-page statement.

Witnesses said Miko hit the scaffolding before landing on the ground.

The attending physician, Dr. Alexander Buelta, declared him dead on arrival.

Upon consultation with relatives, Oyo Boy, who took Miko to the Mandaluyong hospital, decided to take the body to the Makati Medical Center.

Hospital staff said Sotto was rushed to the Makati Med at around 5:45 a.m. in an ambulance. However, doctors there were also unable to revive him.

The body was taken to the Makati Med morgue at 8:05.

At around 10:40 a.m., Sotto’s remains, wrapped in a dark blue body bag, was taken by his father and hospital security out of the morgue.

Brothers Maru and Vic Sotto loaded the body into a vehicle from Arlington Funeral Homes, where the wake for the young actor will reportedly be held.

Hospital security was tight as Sotto’s family and showbiz and non-showbiz friends rushed to the Makati Med.

Reportedly among them were Sen. Sotto and Miko’s reported girlfriend, actress Angel Locsin.

Kibitzers wanting to get a glimpse of the personalities who were arriving at the hospital also gathered outside the emergency room.

A small group of Sotto’s non-showbiz friends, who told The STAR they went to school with the actor at the Colegio de San Agustin, waited patiently for news outside the hospital’s emergency room.

They stood near the midnight blue Ford 150 with license plates bearing the name of Oyo Boy, which was parked at the emergency room’s driveway.

A distraught Oyo Boy screamed at television reporters waiting outside the hospital as he emerged to accompany Locsin to her car.

Miko’s mother, in an interview with GMA 7, asked for prayers for her youngest son.

"He’s in a better place now. He’s happy in the arms of his Creator. But my heart has not fully accepted what happened. Let’s just pray for him," she says.

Ali added that she’s still waiting for Miko’s older brother to come home from the US. Ali arrived in Manila around two months ago from Mexico City with her consul-husband Omar Bsaies, who is now based here.

Sad Day At GMA

The usual light-hearted banter and the laughter were notably missing at the GMA 7 compound in Quezon City yesterday as Miko’s friends at the GMA Artist Center recalled their jolly and playful friend and co-actor.

The gloom is palpable, even as the young artists went about their daily work, among them the shooting of a new image plug for the station.

Mark Reyes, who has directed Miko in a number of shows, remembers him as a quiet, non-obtrusive young man who never called attention to himself.

"He is intense, and lets his eyes do the acting for him," Reyes said of Miko. Reyes directs Love to Love, among other shows.

GMA Artist Center talent Trisha Roman, who was paired with Miko for one year in the youth-oriented show Click, calls the late young actor "utol."

"That’s because the brother of Angelika de la Cruz, his ex-girlfriend, happens to be my boyfriend," explained Trisha. She described Miko as a good adviser, especially in matters of the heart, and a genuine person to boot.

Another GMA Artist Center member, Valerie Concepcion, who worked with Miko in the soap Walang Hanggan and the Metro Filmfest entry Fantasic Man, said Miko joked a lot. But there’s a serious side to his personality that surfaced whenever she confided her problems to him.

"One time," she recalled, "he even told me to keep an air of mystery in matters of love."

The last time she saw Miko was when they watched Fantastic Man as a group last Dec. 27 at Glorietta.

Miko was with the first batch of Click, and starred in the soap operas Kung Mawawala Ka and Walang Hanggan on GMA 7. – With Nikko Dizon


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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