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Maria Helen Bella Avenila Santamaria (September 17, 1949[1][2] – December 10, 2008), better known as Didith Reyes, was a Filipino actress and singer best known for recording a string of hit love ballads in the mid 1970s like Bakit Ako Mahihiya(1975), Araw-Araw, Gabi-Gabi (1975) and Hindi Kami Damong Ligaw(1975) . Many music enthusiasts regard her as one of the Philippines' "Jukebox Queens", along with other singers popular during her time such as Claire dela Fuente, Amapola (Maria Cabase), Eva Eugenio, Leah Navarro, and Imelda Papin. She was notorious for accidentally exposing her breast, while singing Bakit Ako Mahihiya? during the 1977 FAMAS Awards Night.

Didith Reyes
Birth nameMaria Helen Bella Avenila Santamaria
Also known asDidith Reyes
Born(1949-09-17)September 17, 1949
Manila, Philippines
DiedDecember 10, 2008(2008-12-10) (aged 59)
Biñan, Laguna , Philippines
Occupation(s)Singer, actress
Years active1970-2008
LabelsVicor Music Corporation
Associated actsTime Machine, Circus

Didith Reyes was last seen being interviewed two months before her death with TV Veteran Philippine Journalist Korina Sanchez about her retirement in the Music industry and her new life as a beauty salon owner.


Early lifeEdit

Born Maria Helen Bella Avenila Santamaria on September 17, 1949, Reyes was the elder of two children. Her early years were difficult.[3] At age fifteen, she ran away from her home and was known to skip school to join singing contests while in high school at Santa Isabel College. After studying Fine Arts at St. Scholastica College, she joined the Circus band, which would lead her to overnight success.[4]


After her stint with Circus band and Time Machine,[1][3] Reyes signed up with Vicor Music Corporation as a solo recording artist. This was after she was found by lifelong friend, Normita Japitana, found her in Ermita.[5] She would soon score her first hit single with the eponymous theme song to the 1975 film Araw Araw Gabi Gabi, written by Willy Cruz.[5] Her other hits included Nananabik, Hindi Kami Damong Ligaw, Bakit Ako Mahihiya?, Hatiin Natin Ang Gabi, and Aliw.[6] Her hits earned her the title Jukebox Queen,[7] which also is shared with her best friends, Claire dela Fuente,[8] Leah Navarro, Eva Eugenio,[9] and Imelda Papin.[10] Reyes gained further acclaim when she won a Gold Prize and the Best performer at the 1977 Tokyo Music Festival.[3][11] Her self-titled debut album, Didith, was a platinum bestseller.[3] She also held international concerts, particularly, in Japanese cities such as Kyoto and Tokyo.[5]

Aside from singing, Reyes also tried acting through a role in the film Mabango ang Bawat Bulalaklak. Her songs, Hindi Kami Damong Ligaw and Nananabik, were also turned into a films starring her, as well as Bakit Ako Mahihiya?,[12] which earned her notoriety during duet with Rico J. Puno in a televised presentation of the song at the 1977 FAMAS Awards Night, when she accidentally exposed her breast while wearing a flimsy gown.[3][11]

Her showbiz career is marred with controversy, as she had relationships with many men, particularly prominent businessmen, club owners, politicians and those from the military.[5]

Later yearsEdit

Reyes's career stalled in the 1980s as she suffered from a drinking problem and drug addiction[3] In her later years, Reyes reportedly suffered from depression.[13][14] In 2006, she accused a former live-in partner Eulogio "Mang Ely" Disonglo with domestic abuse, leading to his eventual criminal conviction for violating the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Law.[6]

Reyes later worked as a receptionist and stylist at a hair salon. In 2002, she returned to show business with a featured role in the GMA Network drama anthology Magpakailanman. She was supposed to revive her singing career in 2008.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

She was survived by her son Arvi, from her previous marriage to Victor Reyes.[15]


Three days before she died on December 10, 2008 at Biñan, Laguna, Reyes claimed to have sustained injuries after having been sideswiped by a vehicle.[13] She died in her sleep at the home of a friend. The cause of her death was not immediately clear. Some sources attributed her death to a recurrent stomach problem,[16] while her friend, the singer Claire de la Fuente, said that Reyes died of an apparent heart attack as her pancreas ruptured.[3] A police investigation has been initiated to establish the cause of her death.[6][13] An autopsy revealed that Reyes had suffered from an enlarged heart and clogged arteries, lending further credence to the belief that the singer had suffered a fatal heart attack.[17] Her wake was held in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Quezon City.[5]



Year Single Album
1979 "Aliw" Didith
1977 "Magbabalik" Didith
1977 "Nananabik" Didith
1976 "Bakit Ako Mahihiya...?" Didith
1976 "Hindi Kami Damong Ligaw" Didith
1975 "Araw-araw, Gabi-gabi" Didith



Year Title Role
2002 Magpakailanman: Didith Reyes Life Story Herself


Year Title Role
1979 Mabango ba ang Bawat bulaklak
1977 Nananabik
1976 Bakit Ako Mahihiya...?
1976 Hindi Kami Damong Ligaw

Awards and nominationsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Didith Reyes - IMDB Biography". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
  2. ^ Mauro Gia Samonte (2008-12-12). "Whose death is Didith's?". Manila Times. Archived from the original on 2008-12-14. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Pocholo Concepcion & Maricar Cinco (2008-12-11). "Didith Reyes found dead in shanty; 60". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2008-12-11. Retrieved 2008-12-11.
  4. ^ Ricky Lo (2008-12-11). "She 'Didith' her way". Philippine Star. Archived from the original on 2012-09-07. Retrieved 2008-12-11.
  5. ^ a b c d e Normita Japitana. "My good times with Didith". Philippine Star. Archived from the original on 2013-02-20. Retrieved 2008-12-14.
  6. ^ a b c d Abigail Kwok & Gerry Plaza (2008-12-10). "Singer Didith Reyes found dead". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2008-12-10. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  7. ^ Ozaeta, Arnell (2002-12-11). "'70s jukebox queen found dead". The Philippine Star. Archived from the original on 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2008-12-12.
  8. ^ Crispina Martinez-Belen (2008-12-10). "Why Claire dela Fuente is on Cloud 9 these days". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 2008-12-10.[dead link]
  9. ^ "Showdown of Jukebox Queens". Manila Bulletin. 2008-12-10. Archived from the original on January 14, 2005. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  10. ^ "Imelda Papin wants apology from priest for 'discrimination'". Sun Star Manila. 2008-12-10. Archived from the original on 2008-12-14. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  11. ^ a b Nestor U. Torre (1999-05-29). "How Durable Singers First Made Their Mark". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  12. ^ Ricky Lo. "She 'Didith' her way". Philippine Star. Archived from the original on 2012-09-07. Retrieved 2008-12-11.
  13. ^ a b c Sophia Dedace (2008-12-10). "Former singer Didith Reyes found dead". Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  14. ^ Sophia Dedace (2008-12-10). "Imelda Papin shocked over Didith Reyes' death". Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  15. ^ "Son, colleagues of Didith Reyes mourn her death". GMANews.TV. 2008-12-11. Retrieved 2008-12-12.
  16. ^ "Singer Didith Reyes dies at 59". ABS-CBN News Online. 2008-12-10. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  17. ^ Aie Balagtas See (2008-12-11). "Heart attack might have caused Didith Reyes's death - PNP". GMA News. Retrieved 2008-12-11. Heart attack, not vehicular accident, might have caused the death of 70s Jukebox Queen Didith Reyes, a medico legal officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Thursday...A radio report quoted Dr. Roy Camarillo of the PNP laboratory in the Calabarzon Region as saying that Reyes’ autopsy showed that she has an enlarged heart and blocked heart arteries - probable symptoms of heart problems.

External linksEdit