Inland Empire veteran who lost battle to COVID-19 remembered for inspiring others through rap

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Mark "Bagyo" Ho was a former U.S. Marine who left the service in 2007. The aspiring rapper fought two types of cancer before losing his battle to COVID-19 in December of last year.

His music inspired many, while also being his own form of treatment for PTSD.

"Music really became his therapy, probably initially as a distraction to funnel his energy towards something really beautiful and positive. He's always been artistic on many levels," said Michael Villamac-Ho, Mark's brother.

Mark's mother Ludy Villamac Gilkison brought her sons to America as children. He wrote a song about his mom's struggle in their new country and performed it during her 60th birthday party.

"And he started rapping about my life story and all the people there start crying, you know, it touched their heart because they talk about coming here to America because it's not really easy. We had to give up everything we had in the Philippines," said Villamac Gilkison.

Michael is also a former Marine. He remembers his little brother's strength and energy whether fighting cancer or performing on stage.

"I just keep on, I just... the look on his face... he was so strong all the time, and it didn't matter if it was after stem cell transplant, didn't matter if it was before stem cell transplant, didn't matter if he had a bad day," said an emotional Villamac-Ho. "It didn't matter if it was a birthday party for somebody, he gave the same type of energy."

Michael says Mark was injured in a motorcycle accident, and then contracted COVID-19 while in the hospital. Now his mother and brother want to warn the public to take the coronavirus seriously so that no one else has to lose a family member.

His mother said Mark was able to survive Iraq and cancer, but contracting COVID-19 took him away.

Mark Ho will be buried at Riverside National Memorial Cemetery. His memory and his music will live on in the hearts of many forever.
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