Veteran journalist Noel Perfecto dies at 67

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Radio and television personality Noel Vero Perfecto succumbed to heart attack on Saturday morning (February 20) after being in comatose for two weeks. He was 67.

Vero Noel Perfecto, Perfecto's son, said the veteran journalist remained strong during his last days amid surviving a triple bypass surgery 21 years ago. Doctors had given the elder Perfecto only five years to survive, but he managed to stretch this to more than two decades.

Vero said their father was not the expressive type, but his love for his family — wife, children, and grandchildren — has always been evident.

"Cariño brutal is the best term to describe the kind of love my father gave us. I've been trained to do what's best for the family," said Vero in a phone interview with CNN Philippines.

Friends and colleagues have begun to extend their condolences to the journalist's kin.

The state-owned People's Television Network (PTV-4) mourns the death of its veteran reporter who has served the station for three decades.

"Mr. Perfecto's television career with PTV that spanned three decades was marked by dedicated service at a time when outscooping one's peers was the name of the game. He was always there for coverages, big or small, and he treated every story with the same urgency, persistence, and respect," said Albert Bocobo, PTV-4 General Manager, in a text message to CNN Philippines.

Tito Cruz, director of radio network Philippine Broadcasting Service (PBS)-Radyo ng Bayan, also extends his condolences to the Perfecto family.

"Mr. Noel Perfecto was to me more than a broadcast colleague. He was a long-time friend since my reportorial days in the 80s. Losing true friends like Noel is like having a sore throat, mahirap magsalita at magpaalam. The voice breaks. To the family of Noel, my heartfelt and warmest condolences. Noel is now in a better place," Cruz said.

[Translation: "Mr. Noel Perfecto was to me more than a broadcast colleague. He was a long-time friend since my reportorial days in the 80s. Losing true friends like Noel is like having a sore throat, difficult to articulate and to bid goodbye. The voice breaks. To the family of Noel, my heartfelt and warmest condolences. Noel is now in a better place."]

Punto Perfecto, the journalist's radio program on state-owned PBS, airs from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays.

Since the beginning of his stint in the broadcast industry in the 80s, Perfecto has been assigned to several beats, including Manila and, up until the last decade, the Office of the Vice President.

"The Vice President is deeply saddened by the death of Noel Perfecto. He has known Noel as far back as the mid-1980s, when the Vice President was starting his public service career as mayor of Makati. The Vice President will always remember Noel for his professionalism," said Joey Salgado, spokesperson of Vice-President and presidential aspirant Jejomar Binay.

Perfecto also worked as a beat reporter for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), where he met Commander Armand Balilo, the bureau's spokesperson.

"He was actually one of my mentors in public affairs. He was a partner in the PCG, helping us in our public information campaign. But, most of all, I will miss him because of his friendship. He has his part and he did it well," Balilo said.

Meanwhile, veteran journalist Freddie Abando regards Perfecto not just as a colleague but as a long-time friend.

"He was one of a kind. He was committed passionately to his job. He loved life," Abando said.

Vero admitted that he was overwhelmed with the love of his father's family and friends, saying that this warmth has immensely helped their family to look into the brighter side of his father's passing.

"Nagugulat na lang kami sa mga kaibigan... ito pala 'yung natulungan ni Papa. Kaya naman 'yung agony kahit papaano napapalitan ng happiness," Vero said.

[Translation: "We're actually surprised with the friends... these are the people that my Papa has been able to help. That's why the agony is somehow replaced by happiness."]

Perfecto's remains lie at the St. Peter's Chapel in Quezon Avenue. His cremation is slated on Tuesday (February 23).