Top movie star Fernando Poe Jr. lapsed into coma after he suffered a stroke during a gathering with friends and supporters on Saturday evening.

House of Representatives member Francis Escudero and Poe's spokesman said the actor remains in 'critical and unstable' condition.

He was hospitalised in the Intensive Care Unit at the Saint Luke's Medical Centre in suburban Quezon City.

"He is critical, unstable... He is still in a coma," Escudero said. Poe earlier attended a token Christmas gathering of members of his staff at the FPJ Studios in Quezon City and was in high spirits, Escudero said.

"He was in a jolly mood. Everything seemed fine until we noticed that he had momentarily slowed down, indicated feeling dizzy, and tried resting his head on the table," Escudero said.

Susan Roces, the actor's wife, hurried to the hospital as soon as she was informed of what happened to her husband.

Escudero said tests revealed that Poe's veins on the right part of his brain were blocked. Neurologist Anastacia Aquino, one of Poe's attending physicians, said Poe is currently being subjected to a number of tests.

She said the actor is responding to medication, but they would have to wait for developments in the next 72 hours. Aquino said there are no plans to operate on the actor. They said Poe suffered from a "blockage type stroke," not a "haemorrhage stroke."

A "blockage type stroke" impedes the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain according to doctors. They said it could affect Poe's ability to move.

"The doctors are now pumping blood into the brain artery to prevent any damage," Escudero said.

St. Luke's Medical Centre has become a virtual magnet for the press as well as political and showbiz personalities. Droves of people arriving at the hospital prompted Roces to appeal to friends and fans of her husband to refrain from crowding the hospital premises.

Escudero quashed rumours spreading through mobile phone text messages that the celebrated action star who ran for president last May had already died.

"Let's put a stop to that. Let's just pray for his speedy recovery," he said.

Poe and his vice presidential running mate former senator Loren Legarda has a pending electoral protest before the Supreme Court's electoral tribunal. The duo claim they were cheated during May polls.