Manila, OCTOBER 2, 2003  (MALAYA) BEFORE Judy Ann Santos, Claudine Barretto and Kristine Hermosa, there was Julie Vega. One of the first Filipino soap opera icons, Julie Vega died on May 6, 1985, a day of mourning for her many generations of fans she touched with her talent and personality.

Tonight, ABS-CBN's much-awarded drama anthology "Maalaala Mo Kaya" will go back to the real story behind this pioneering drama star when it drafts "Berks" star Angelica Panganiban to play Julie Vega in this week's episode. Angelica will be joined by an ace dramatic cast led by Rio Locsin and Michael de Mesa as Julie's parents Pearl and Julio Postigo, and Kristopher Peralta, Luis Alandy, and Bryan Homecillo, among others, as Julie's brothers. Director Jerry Lopez Sineneng is at the helm of the episode written by Gilbeys Sardeja.

Born Julie Pearl Postigo, Julie Vega began her career at the tender age of three, when she did her very first TV commercial. Despite her parents' misgivings, Julie turned out to have a natural talent for acting, something she proved beyond doubt when she won the title role in the film "Mga Mata ni Angelita" after an exhaustive nationwide search.

When soap stardom came at the age of 11 via her starring role in "Annaliza," Julie's potential for further fame was sealed, which was why her sudden death shocked the entire country. What were the reasons behind Julie Vega's mysterious end? Were there any truth to any of the rumors that circulated after she died?

The episode strikes a personal note for many of the people involved in this week's production, starting with "Maalaala Mo Kaya" host Charo Santos-Concio, who played Julie's mother in a Fernando Poe, Jr. action-drama starrer, "Durugin si Totoy Bato." "I remember her as such a sweet, quiet child with so much potential," Charo recalls. "It was such a shock to wake up one day and hear she was gone."

On her side, episode star Angelica Panganiban admits that people have always remarked on how much she looked like Julie all throughout her career. At 16, Angelica is the same age as Julie was when she died.

The episode will also feature a long-unseen film footage of Julie's funeral. The footage, entrusted to ABS-CBN's film archives by the Postigo family and specially transferred to video for this episode, captures the crowds of mourners showing their unmatched sorrow at Julie's passing.

ABS-CBN broadcasts the real story behind classic soap star Julie Vega tonight right after "Teleserye Primetime Bida."

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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