MARICHU VERA-PEREZ MACEDA TURNS 60
Manila, December 26, 2002 (STAR) by Butch Francisco
In 1960, Marichu Vera Perez was hailed the debutante of the year. (She would be Mrs. Maceda shortly after.) It was a huge event – widely covered by the press – that turned the fabled Vera-Perez garden into a fairyland.
Her 60th birthday celebration last Sunday at the Manila Polo Club surely was a lot less lavish, but not necessarily less significant.
The idea to hold a surprise birthday bash for Marichu Maceda was orchestrated by her five boys – in chronological order now: Emmanuel (married to the former Lyra Rufino), Ernest (married to Rica Vergara), Erwin (married to Annie Rosario), Edmond (married to Johanna Alba) and Edward who is still a bachelor.
Preparations for this occasion were actually made as early as October this year – mostly with the help of one of Manay Ichu’s dearest friends, Conchita Razon (Martin Nievera’s Mom, of course), and Jo-Ann Banaga, executive producer of Pira-pirasong Pangarap, the award-winning daily drama anthology that the Vera-Perezes produce for Channel 7.
I can imagine it must have been difficult to keep this affair hush-hush from Manay Ichu – considering the fact that she’s sharp and can sometimes read minds. At one point, I almost blew the lid off this secret. This was two weeks ago when I called up Manay Ichu to thank her for the birthday and Christmas gifts she sent over to my house. The first thing she said on the phone was "O, did Jo-Ann call you?" I thought she already knew about the birthday party and so my response to her question was a big yes and that I would be able to make it and wouldn’t miss it for the world. Fortunately, I was able to do some quick thinking and backtracked. "Why was she supposed to call me?" – I asked. "For the meeting (regarding another business) at Max’s tonight!" came her reply. "Oh, yes, Jo-ann told me about that," I shot back. Since I already said yes – and that "I wouldn’t miss it for the world," I left my own birthday party that night to join her and Jo-Ann Banaga – plus Agnes de Guzman and Bernie Siapco – for a dinner at Max’s Fried Chicken.
Two weeks later – or just a few days before her birthday (Dec. 23 ) – Manay Ichu was already becoming suspicious of the movements around her. "I knew there was something cooking, but I wasn’t sure exactly what it was," she now recalls. According to her family, they were giving her a simple dinner Monday night – right on her birthday – at the Vera Perez house in Valencia Street. That was the version they gave her – and she believed every word of it. She even kept pestering her Mom, Mama Nene, about the food they were preparing for her birthday.
Now that she had been tricked into believing that the party was just going to be held at home – and on Monday – the problem was how to bring her to her real birthday party at the Manila Polo Club Sunday night. Martin Nievera - no less – provided the solution. He called up Manay Ichu days before to invite her "to judge a songwriting contest" at the Manila Polo Club. The accommodating person that she is, she said yes, of course to Martin.
On Sunday night, Martin met her at the lobby of the Manila Polo Club and escorted her to the venue of "the songwriting contest." To make the script even more believable, he even showed her a sheet of paper that indicated the contest’s various categories. While she was trying to absorb the contest rules, she was also wondering why Martin kept texting along the way (it was a signal for the organizers to get ready). Luckily, before she got any more suspicious, she and Martin already reached the venue where – from behind the door – she was showered with birthday cheers from family and friends.
Oh, what a wonderful night it was – not only for her, but for everyone who took off from their dizzying holiday schedule to be with her on her 60th birthday celebration: Susan Roces, Gloria Romero, Eddie Romero, Boots Anson Roa and Dad Oscar Moreno, Robert Arevalo and Barbara Perez, Imee Marcos, Boy Abunda, Lolit Solis, Nestor Torre, Norma Japitana, June Torejon, brother-in-law Joe de Venecia, the crews of ABS-CBN (headed by Mario Dumaual) and GMA-7 (with Lhar Santiago) and toward the end of the evening, Fernando Poe, Jr. showed up to add more sparkle to this very colorful occasion. Ernie Maceda was also there and everyone was so thrilled when he went up on stage later to give a bouquet of flowers to Manay Ichu.
And what great food they served which was capped by a wonderful dessert – a huge lemon tart cake (one of the best I’ve ever tasted in my whole life) by Heny Sison. (It was a cousin from the Perez side – the very friendly Mary Ann Robles – who made arrangements for the cake).
Even faster were the anecdotes about Manay Ichu – especially those by the loquacious, but lovable Lilibeth Nakpil (she’s my favorite among the Vera-Perez sisters). Those who weren’t able to make it to the affair sent messages through the magic of video (excellently packaged into a video presentation – done a la Pira-Pirasong Pangarap complete with Manay Gina de Venecia hosting it – by Jo-Ann Banaga). And so we saw Vilma Santos, Christopher de Leon and Alma Moreno on video happily sharing their experiences with Manay Ichu when she used to produce movies for them.
Most applauded were the song-and-dance numbers provided by the Maceda boys (three of them were Kundirana members). Beaming with pride, of course, was the proud mother, who – in turn – should be congratulated for raising such great kids.
Toward the end of the evening, Manay Ichu got another big surprise that pleased her no end – there is another grandchild coming (she is already a grandmother to nine) because one of the daughters-in-law (the former Annie Rosario) is two months on the family way. (Manay Ichu is now horrified a the thought that a few weeks ago, she even dragged poor Annie to accompany her to buy gift wrappers and ribbons in crowded Divisoria).
What a wonderful evening that was. It was a simple, yet very meaningful affair that marked he 60th birthday of one of the most beloved pillars of the movie industry. Happy birthday, Manay!
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2002 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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