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Tony Calvento: The Original ‘Imbestigador’

Tony Calvento, best known as a columnist and host of the ABS-CBN crime series ‘Calvento Files’, passed away yesterday. (Photo credit: Tony Calvento Facebook Page)

Gus Abelgas, the Tulfo brothers and Mike Enriquez were not the first Filipino hosts to showcase gruesome murder cases on television.

Before they came into the viewers’ consciousness, there was Tony Calvento and his ‘Calvento Files’. The program aired on ABS-CBN from 1995-98, during which it popularized the crime docudrama genre on Philippine television.

On Monday, October 9, Calvento passed away from multiple organ failure, his family announced. Funeral services will take place from October 10-13, after which his remains will be cremated on October 14.

Calvento enjoyed a distinguished journalism career. He rose to fame as a columnist for the People’s Journal, before gaining even greater recognition as the host of ‘Calvento Files’ in the mid-1990s.

Most of the stories on ‘Calvento Files’ were adopted from his column on People’s Journal titled ‘Hotline’. Although its run on ABS-CBN was short, it managed to earn a number of accolades, most notably the 1999 New York Film Festival for best docudrama.

‘Calvento Files’ was also adopted into a film produced by Star Cinema in 1997. The film, which was directed by Michael de Mesa and Laurenti Dyogi, featured a screenplay by Ricky Lee with some input from Calvento himself.

After the show ended, Calvento moved over to Pilipino Star Ngayon, naming his column after the aforementioned ABS-CBN program. He remained with the Star Group until his passing.

Individually, Calvento won numerous awards for his journalistic work and his role in crime investigation. And his influence as host of ‘Calvento Files’ was then passed on to other shows that were based on his docudrama style.

Today, the Calvento legacy was passed on to his son Sonny Calvento. The younger Calvento made his presence felt as director of ‘Nabubulok’, which entered the Cinemalaya film festival in August of this year and whose story was influenced by the elder Calvento’s crime stories in his columns.

Tony Calvento may be gone physically, but spiritually his legacy will live on. May his soul rest in peace.

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