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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – As early as the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday, November 15, close friends and associates had been posting on social media that rock legend Joey “Pepe” Smith had just had a 3rd stroke and had to be rushed to the emergency room of the Metro Antipolo Medical Center.
In a phone interview with Rappler, Pepe’s manager Mark de Leon said that they had just come from Romeo’s restaurant in the evening of November 14 and were driving home to Lower Antipolo (where they live next to each other) when he noticed changes in Pepe’s appearance and speech.
“He was bent over, his jaw was drooping, and he was drooling,” De Leon said.
De Leon immediately rushed Pepe to the Metro Antipolo ER on Marcos Highway. It was a good thing that he was able to do so quickly, as Pepe is reportedly faring better than he did during the first stroke which happened on April 2015 and left the musician with a minor speech impediment. The second stroke took place July last year.
“He has difficulty swallowing, but he can talk. He is conscious. His body is fine,” De Leon said.
“Naagapan agad kaya hindi s’ya naputulan ng ugat (it was dealt with early, so his veins weren’t blocked),” said concert producer Dudee Alfonso.
De Leon pointed out that Pepe’s speech that is always affected whenever he has a stroke.
Smith, who has announced he will cease to perform live earlier this year due to health issues, is set to retire in the grandest way possible by holding the first ever Pepe Smith Rockfest. The concert was initially scheduled for Saturday, November 18 at Amoranto Stadium in Quezon City.
The production team behind the concert is considering postponing it until Pepe recovers and is discharged from the hospital. They are looking at resetting the concert for December.
The show will feature 47 rock acts spanning 50 years, with bands from Smith’s heydey in the ’70s to the current pool of millennial artists.
More recently, Smith has made the foray into film, appearing as the protagonist in Singing in Graveyards, directed by Bradley Liew. The film was featured in the 2016 Venice Film Festival.
He is also slated to appear in the sequel to Erik Matti’s 2013 smash hit, On the Job. – with reports from Susan Claire Agbayani/Rappler.com