SHOWBIZ NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

'ONRA' AWARD, NO LESS, FOR NORA AUNOR
(BICOL U WELCOMES THE SUPERSTAR LIKE A HOMECOMING QUEEN)


NORA Aunor (center) receives trophy from the Communication Students’ Association. Photos by Bayani San Diego Jr
  Bicolanos treated her like a homecoming queen. Quite fittingly, the citation given by Nora Aunor’s fellow Bicolanos was named “Onra,” the Bicolano word for honor. On Tuesday, students, faculty members and fans feted Aunor at the Bicol University. Since last year’s National Artist controversy, the actress has received awards from various institutions, including the University of the Philippines, Ramon Magsaysay High School and Polytechnic University of the Philippines—all of which declared her the People’s National Artist. At the Bicol University, Aunor was given two awards—one from the Communication Students’ Association and the other, from the Ako Bicol party-list group. (Aunor hails from Iriga, Camarines Sur, two hours away from this city.) The Onra award came from Ako Bicol, which vigorously defended the actress after her name was dropped by Malacañang from the official list drafted by the National Artist search committee. READ MORE...

ALSO Robin Padilla vs Alan Cayetano: Actor scores anti-BBL solons at Nat'l Historical forum
(“I encourage our hot-headed countrymen, especially our leaders in the Senate and Congress, to study the Bangsamoro history first before giving their opinion,” Padilla said. “(Sen. Alan) Cayetano should have been here,” he added.)


Actor Robin Padilla poses for the camera after he expresses his support for the peace process in Mindanao during a forum at the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). Photo by Kristine Angeli Sabillo/INQUIRER.net   Brush up on history first before giving your opinion, actor and Muslim convert Robin Padilla admonished lawmakers on Friday during a forum marking the first anniversary of the framework peace agreement signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). “I encourage our hot-headed countrymen, especially our leaders in the Senate and Congress, to study the Bangsamoro history first before giving their opinion,” Padilla said. “(Sen. Alan) Cayetano should have been here,” he added. On several occasions, Cayetano took to the Senate floor to warn his colleagues against signing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), citing the Mamasapano incident that left 44 police commandos dead as proof that the MILF were not to be trusted as they were coddling international terrorists, including Malaysian bomb-maker Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan.”  Cayetano also called for the replacement of members of the government’s peace panel, whom he accused of lawyering for the MILF. “We shouldn’t judge the long process of peace negotiations just because of what happened in Mamasapano,” Padilla said in an interview during the Bangsamoro in National History forum organized by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. The Inquirer tried but failed to get a comment from Cayetano. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Brillante Mendoza launches ‘filmmaker-friendly’ Sinag Maynila filmfest


Solar Entertainment CEO Wilson Tieng and filmmaker Brillante Mendoza address the media during the recent launch of Sinag Maynila Film Festival.
Even with his international success, celebrated filmmaker Brillante Mendoza has always been asked why he has opted not to join local independent film festivals. “One reason why I don’t join other film festivals here is I already have foreign producers so I don’t really need grants to get my films made. At the same time, that also gives me ownership of my films,” Mendoza recently told InterAksyon and other media during the recent launch of Sinag Maynila, a new independent film festival he is spearheading along with Solar Entertainment Corporation where he is creative director. But even as he is not actively involved in the local indie film circuit, Mendoza said he is very much aware of the plight of our local filmmakers especially when it comes to the rights to their own work. So when Solar Entertainment CEO Wilson Tieng came up with the concept for Sinag Maynila, Direk Brillante made sure that it will be what he calls a “filmmaker-friendly” film festival. “I told Mr. Tieng that if we’re going to support the filmmakers, let’s support them wholeheartedly and he’s very agreeable to this,” he revealed. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Brillante Mendoza pays tribute to Yolanda survivors with new film, ‘Taklub’


Director Brillante Mendoza and actress Nora Aunor with the crew of 'Taklub' during a break in filming in Tacloban City.
Even as rumors keep circulating online that Brillante Mendoza’s latest film, “Taklub”, will make its debut in one of the major European festivals, possibly Cannes or Berlin, the celebrated filmmaker remains mum and will only say that the Yolanda-inspired drama is already in post-production and will most probably be released by next year. “But for sure, the film will be seen by Filipino audiences,” Mendoza assured InterAksyon and other media during the launch of the Brillante Mendoza Film Festival that kicked off Wednesday at SM Southmall.  The director said “Taklub” is “basically, the story of survivors in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda, how they survived, how they picked up almost one year after the storm.”  Headlined by Superstar Nora Aunor, the star of Mendoza’s internationally acclaimed “Thy Womb”, the film also stars Julio Diaz, Lou Veloso, Ruby Ruiz and Soliman Cruz. For Mendoza and his cast and crew, the film is “a loving tribute to the survivors.”  CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Rey Pamaran replies to Robin Padilla’s plea
(Pamaran filed a slander complaint with P3 million payment for damages against Mendez after she allegedly hit him and a flight staff in a Cebu Pacific flight bound for Pagadian City on March 20.)


Rey Pamaran to Robin Padilla: Sana maintindihan nyo po na ako ang binastos, minura, sinaktan ng physical at ang biktima.  MANILA, Philippines - Rey Pamaran replied to Robin Padilla’s plea to forgive actress Melissa Mendez. On Friday, Padilla posted his request to Pamaran on his Instagram account, adding that he’s hoping the two parties opt to settle the issue privately. Pamaran filed a slander complaint with P3 million payment for damages against Mendez after she allegedly hit him and a flight staff in a Cebu Pacific flight bound for Pagadian City on March 20. READ MORE...

ALSO: One Direction Zayn Malik says he worries he's let fans down by leaving 1D


Zayn Malik of One Direction gives his autograph to Japanese fans during an event for their film "One Direction: This Is Us", in Makuhari near Tokyo. AP/Koji Sasahara  
LONDON — Zayn Malik says he worries that he's let One Direction fans down by leaving the world-conquering boy band, but couldn't carry on in a role that made him unhappy. Malik quit the group this week, saying he wanted "to be a normal 22-year-old." He had earlier pulled out of One Direction's world tour, citing stress. He told Britain's Sun newspaper Friday that "I did try to do something that I wasn't happy doing for a while" to keep fans happy. He said he felt "like I may have let them down in some sort of way," but wanted fans to know he hadn't turned his back on them. And he said his bandmates had been "really supportive." The four remaining members say they will carry on as One Direction. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO Albert Martinez after Liezl's death: Life won’t be the same without Liezl


For the first time since his wife Liezl Martinez passed away last Saturday, March 14, Albert Martinez recalls their last days together when Liezl’s cancer (of the breast) first diagnosed in 2008 metastasized in other parts of her body. Liezl was in remission for almost five years. When her cancer came back middle of last year, it was very aggressive but the couple put up a good fight against it. 
Here’s Albert’s story, in his own words:  ‘I don’t know how I can recover from this. It’s something so painful that I cannot describe – the longing, the loneliness. We spent 29 years together and survived all the trials and the struggles.’   In September last year, Liezl underwent another CT scan. Unfortunately, we saw something that we were not expecting. Her cancer has metastasized in her bone, and there was thickening of her liver, her ovary and her kidneys. So Liezl underwent another round of chemotherapy and another stem cell therapy. She also had a vaccine. Okey na, or so we thought.  CONTINUE READING...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

‘Onra,’ no less, for Nora Aunor; Bicol University welcomes the Superstar as it would a homecoming queen


NORA Aunor (center) receives trophy from the Communication Students’ Association. Photos by Bayani San Diego Jr

LEGAZPI CITY, MARCH 30, 2015 (INQUIRER) Bayani San Diego Jr. @inquirerdotnet - Bicolanos treated her like a homecoming queen. Quite fittingly, the citation given by Nora Aunor’s fellow Bicolanos was named “Onra,” the Bicolano word for honor.

On Tuesday, students, faculty members and fans feted Aunor at the Bicol University.

Since last year’s National Artist controversy, the actress has received awards from various institutions, including the University of the Philippines, Ramon Magsaysay High School and Polytechnic University of the Philippines—all of which declared her the People’s National Artist.

At the Bicol University, Aunor was given two awards—one from the Communication Students’ Association and the other, from the Ako Bicol party-list group. (Aunor hails from Iriga, Camarines Sur, two hours away from this city.)

The Onra award came from Ako Bicol, which vigorously defended the actress after her name was dropped by Malacañang from the official list drafted by the National Artist search committee.

READ MORE...
Rep. Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol related that Aunor and late filmmaker Manuel Conde would have been the region’s first two national artists. (The Palace has yet to confer the honor on Conde, who was declared national artist in 2009, and on the artists in Aunor’s batch.)


THE AKO BICOL party group, led by Rep. Rodel Batocabe (left) , hands out the Onra citation to La Aunor.

Ako Bicol later filed a resolution and initiated a signature campaign to pursue Aunor’s declaration as national artist.

Beyond the national artist issue, however, Aunor, known as the Superstar in local show biz, welcomed the opportunity to interact with Bicol’s young people.

Souvenir snapshots

Upon her arrival on Monday, she chanced upon graduating students in their togas at the lobby of La Piazza, where she was staying. She gamely posed for souvenir snapshots with them.

She jested that receiving an award from a learning institution never fails to make her feel like a fresh graduate.

Rep. Edcel “Grex” Lagman of the first district of Albay recounted that his mother, Cielo Burce-Lagman, was Aunor’s English teacher at the Generosa de Leon Memorial High School-Centro Escolar University, Parañaque in the 1970s. Aunor joked that she often cut classes, as she was already working as a singer-actress then.

Lagman contradicted Aunor by quoting his mom who, he insisted, described the Superstar as “an excellent student.”

Videos of the actress’ award-winning performances were shown during the ceremony. Students regaled the honoree with song-and-dance numbers as well.

During her acceptance speech, which she delivered in Bicolano and Tagalog, Aunor recalled her struggling days—anecdotes that Noranians know by heart—among them her selling iced water at the train station, and competing in, and winning the Darigold Jamboree singing contest in Naga, Camarines Sur.

She urged the students to pursue their dreams and vowed that she would hold a free concert next time she was in town. Aunor, who lost her singing voice five years ago, is set to undergo treatment in Boston in June.

She is also in the province to drum up support for her coming indie film, Kristian Sendon Cordero’s “Hinulid,” which will have Rinconada Bikol dialogue. Interestingly, it will be Aunor’s first film in her native tongue.

Filming starts in May, she told the Inquirer.

Today she will receive an award from Ateneo de Naga, where Cordero is a faculty member.


INQUIRER

Robin Padilla vs Alan Cayetano: Actor scores anti-BBL solons
(“I encourage our hot-headed countrymen, especially our leaders in the Senate and Congress, to study the Bangsamoro history first before giving their opinion,” Padilla said. “(Sen. Alan) Cayetano should have been here,” he added.)
Erika Sauler  @erikasauler Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:56 AM | Saturday, March 28th, 2015


Actor Robin Padilla poses for the camera after he expresses his support for the peace process in Mindanao during a forum at the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). Photo by Kristine Angeli Sabillo/INQUIRER.net

Brush up on history first before giving your opinion, actor and Muslim convert Robin Padilla admonished lawmakers on Friday during a forum marking the first anniversary of the framework peace agreement signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“I encourage our hot-headed countrymen, especially our leaders in the Senate and Congress, to study the Bangsamoro history first before giving their opinion,” Padilla said. “(Sen. Alan) Cayetano should have been here,” he added.

READ: Robin Padilla: Hot-headed senators should study history of Bangsamoro

On several occasions, Cayetano took to the Senate floor to warn his colleagues against signing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), citing the Mamasapano incident that left 44 police commandos dead as proof that the MILF were not to be trusted as they were coddling international terrorists, including Malaysian bomb-maker Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan.”

Cayetano also called for the replacement of members of the government’s peace panel, whom he accused of lawyering for the MILF.

READ: Cayetano against BBL, says MILF to boost army that can threaten Republic

“We shouldn’t judge the long process of peace negotiations just because of what happened in Mamasapano,” Padilla said in an interview during the Bangsamoro in National History forum organized by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

The Inquirer tried but failed to get a comment from Cayetano.

14th-century Mindanao

CONTINUE READING...
Among the topics discussed by history professors during the forum were the economic activities in 14th-century Mindanao, the spread of Islam, the Moro resistance to Spanish and American rule, as well as contemporary Moro groups.

The actor expressed support for the passage of the BBL, which was delayed following the Mamasapano clash between Moro rebels and the government’s Special Action Force who were pursuing Marwan.

The BBL “is an opportunity for peace,” said Padilla, who came wearing a shirt with the image of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. The feisty official was believed to be among the presidential hopefuls in 2016.

“I believe in Duterte because I believe in federalism,” the actor said. “I believe in a time when the rest of Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao will no longer have to rely on the so-called Imperial Manila,” he added.

READ: Robin Padilla backs Duterte for President

Padilla cited the case of Tacloban post-Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” “Do we have to wait for someone in Manila to make the decisions? Same with the Bangsamoro problem. Must decisions come from Manila? We have diverse cultures and traditions,” he said.

But an Islamic studies professor on Friday warned against the establishment of a new Bangsamoro entity, saying this would only give birth to new armed groups as the “flawed” peace negotiation had little regard for cultural diversity in Mindanao.

“There is a weakness in the process when we look at negotiating with only one armed group… We should continue the peace process but make it more inclusive,” said Renato Oliveros, PhD, during the same forum.

“After you establish the law, you will deal with new armed groups. Because you’re sending the wrong message that you negotiate only with armed groups,” Oliveros said of the draft BBL.

The Mamasapano fiasco was a painful experience but also an opportunity to highlight that other ethnic communities have been excluded from the peace negotiations, the professor said. “You do not put all your eggs in one basket,” he added.

The lecturer at the Ateneo de Manila University and executive vice president of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, identified himself as an “absentee Mindanaoan, a Moro and, ethnically speaking, a Tausug.”


INQUIRER

Brillante Mendoza launches ‘filmmaker-friendly’ Sinag Maynila filmfest By Edwin P. Sallan, InterAksyon.com February 25, 2015 · 11:15 am


Solar Entertainment CEO Wilson Tieng and filmmaker Brillante Mendoza address the media during the recent launch of Sinag Maynila Film Festival.

Even with his international success, celebrated filmmaker Brillante Mendoza has always been asked why he has opted not to join local independent film festivals.

“One reason why I don’t join other film festivals here is I already have foreign producers so I don’t really need grants to get my films made. At the same time, that also gives me ownership of my films,” Mendoza recently told InterAksyon and other media during the recent launch of Sinag Maynila, a new independent film festival he is spearheading along with Solar Entertainment Corporation where he is creative director.

But even as he is not actively involved in the local indie film circuit, Mendoza said he is very much aware of the plight of our local filmmakers especially when it comes to the rights to their own work.

So when Solar Entertainment CEO Wilson Tieng came up with the concept for Sinag Maynila, Direk Brillante made sure that it will be what he calls a “filmmaker-friendly” film festival.

“I told Mr. Tieng that if we’re going to support the filmmakers, let’s support them wholeheartedly and he’s very agreeable to this,” he revealed.

CONTINUE READING...
Aside from a generous grant of P2 million for each participating filmmaker, along with the support of SM Cinemas, the country’s largest cinema chain, Mendoza hinted that the filmmakers will also have part-ownership of their films. Without discussing the details, he said that the terms in Sinag Maynila are definitely “better than those of other film festivals.”

Scheduled from March 18 to 24 in designated SM Cinemas in SM Megamall, SM North Edsa, SM Manila, SM Fairview, SM Southmall, SM Mall of Asia and in SM Aura Premier where the red-carpet opening ceremonies will be held, Sinag Maynila kicks off its maiden year with five feature film entries from some of the country’s notable indie directors.

They are “Balut Country” from Paul Sta. Ana (“Oros”), “Bambanti” by Zig Dulay (“M: Mother’s Maiden Name”), “Imbisibol” by Lawrence Fajardo (“Posas”), “Ninja Party” by Jim Libiran (“Tribu”) and “Swap” by Remton Zuasola (“Ang Damgo ni Eleueteria”).

There was supposed to be a sixth entry in “Death by Gokkun” by Joselito Altarejos (“Kasal”) but the director opted to pull out of the festival and has instead entered his film in an international film festival.

Direk Brillante said this is fine by him since he really wants to help his fellow filmmakers have the same success he has had in the international circuit.

“This is my 10th year as a director. I think it’s time for me to pay back or pay forward to other filmmakers and give them the same opportunity that I had in terms of international exposure,” he declared.

Mendoza is scheduled to receive an international lifetime achievement award from the ongoing Singkuwento International Film Festival. With Sinag Maynila, he said there’s a good chance of pushing and crossing boundaries as he has personally worked closely with the filmmakers in the development of their films.

“Sinag Maynila does not only up the ante. Working with Brillante Mendoza, we hope to give our homegrown filmmakers the chance to tell the stories of Filipinos in the most compelling visual narrative possible,” added Tieng.

“The five films show great promise of high recognition not just locally but in international independent film festivals as well.”

Mendoza stressed that Sinag Maynila is not out to undermine or compete with other film festivals.

“We are not here to compete with anyone. More festivals means more opportunities to deliver more films, more stories, especially from independent directors. For our part, we don’t want to just produce films. We want to produce good films. And we want the public to watch all five films,” Mendoza concluded.


INTERAKSYON.COM

Brillante Mendoza pays tribute to Yolanda survivors with new film, ‘Taklub’ By Edwin P. Sallan, InterAksyon.com November 20, 2014 · 8:53 am


Director Brillante Mendoza and actress Nora Aunor with the crew of 'Taklub' during a break in filming in Tacloban City.

Even as rumors keep circulating online that Brillante Mendoza’s latest film, “Taklub”, will make its debut in one of the major European festivals, possibly Cannes or Berlin, the celebrated filmmaker remains mum and will only say that the Yolanda-inspired drama is already in post-production and will most probably be released by next year.

“But for sure, the film will be seen by Filipino audiences,” Mendoza assured InterAksyon and other media during the launch of the Brillante Mendoza Film Festival that kicked off Wednesday at SM Southmall.

The director said “Taklub” is “basically, the story of survivors in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda, how they survived, how they picked up almost one year after the storm.”

Headlined by Superstar Nora Aunor, the star of Mendoza’s internationally acclaimed “Thy Womb”, the film also stars Julio Diaz, Lou Veloso, Ruby Ruiz and Soliman Cruz. For Mendoza and his cast and crew, the film is “a loving tribute to the survivors.”

CONTINUE READING...
“Before we started filming ‘Taklub’ in Tacloban, I told my cast and crew that we are going there not just to make a movie but also to pay our respects to the survivors. Gusto naming makiramay sa mga namatayan, sa mga nawalan ng pamilya, sa mga nawalan ng bahay at mga nawalan ng pamumuhay,” he noted.


Brillante Mendoza poses during the launch of the Brillante Mendoza Film Festival at SM Southmall in Las Pinas on Tuesday (Edwin P. Sallan/Interaksyon).

Asked about the title “Taklub”, Direk Brillante said the word is a derivative of Tacloban which refers to a basket used to cover newly caught fish.

“But ‘Taklub’ is also a metaphor. As in tinakluban ng bagyo, tinakluban ng disaster ang Tacloban after Yolanda,” he added.

In deciding to make a film about Yolanda survivors, Mendoza said he wants to share with viewers what it’s really like to be among those who lost almost everything and everyone they hold dear after one of the most devastating disasters in recent history.

“Most of us kasi are outsiders to what happened. Many of us have not been or have never been to Tacloban before and after Yolanda. So we’ve only seen and heard what happened in the news. Iba pa rin yung point of view nung mga tunay na naka-experience nitong bagyong ito. Paano ba binubuo ng mga survivors ang buhay nila months after what happened? That’s what I hope to share in this film,” he pointed out.

The film festival that bears Mendoza’s name is now on its 4th year as a touring project of SM Malls and SM Cinema. Before opening in SM Southmall this week, it was warmly received at SM Marikina in September.

The festival’s next stops include SM Malls in Bacolod (November 21-22), Tarlac (November 24-25), Cagayan de Oro (November 27-28) and Lucena (no specific November dates yet), Mendoza said he’s very pleased that at least three films (“Thy Womb”, “Lola” and “Foster Child”) will be introduced to a new group of audiences, especially students, in these parts of the country.


PHILSTAR

Rey Pamaran replies to Robin Padilla’s plea By Joyce Jimenez (philstar.com) | Updated March 28, 2015 - 11:56am


Melissa Mendez asked to get off plane for punching flight attendant -Posted on March 20, 2015 in News A statement from the Airline Cebu Pacific was released: As of March 20, 2015; 11:30AM. Cebu pacific flight 5J 771 manila-Pagadian returned to Manila, shortly after take-off today, March 20, 2015. The unruly passenger was offloaded from the flight. The flight departed Manila at 9:20AM and arrived at 10:37AM in Pagadian on the same day. CEB is coordinating with authorities regarding the incident. (Photo Source: Instagram – andrewwolff)


Rey Pamaran to Robin Padilla: Sana maintindihan nyo po na ako ang binastos, minura, sinaktan ng physical at ang biktima.

MANILA, Philippines - Rey Pamaran replied to Robin Padilla’s plea to forgive actress Melissa Mendez.

On Friday, Padilla posted his request to Pamaran on his Instagram account, adding that he’s hoping the two parties opt to settle the issue privately.

Pamaran filed a slander complaint with P3 million payment for damages against Mendez after she allegedly hit him and a flight staff in a Cebu Pacific flight bound for Pagadian City on March 20.

READ MORE...
“Sana maintindihan nyo po na ako ang binastos, minura, sinaktan ng physical at ang biktima,” Pamaran replied to Padilla, through his statement posted on his Instagram account on Friday.

He also pointed out that he’s the same age as Mendez, and that he really didn’t mean to file a complaint against Mendez.

“Ngunit yun lang ang tanging paraan para mapilitan siya na sabihin yung buong katotohanan,” he explained. “Gusto ko sabihin niya on TV ang totoong nangyayari sa insidente at hindi puro kasinungalingan lang para maprotektahan lang niya sarili niya.”

Meanwhile, Pamaran also lashed back to the people who say he’s only after the money he could get if he wins the case.

“Paano kung si Melissa na lang bibigyan ko ng 3 million para sabihin ang katotohanan? Hindi ko kelangan ang 3 million,” he said.


PHILSTAR

Zayn Malik says he worries he's let fans down by leaving 1D (Associated Press) | Updated March 28, 2015 - 5:00am


Zayn Malik of One Direction gives his autograph to Japanese fans during an event for their film "One Direction: This Is Us", in Makuhari near Tokyo. AP/Koji Sasahara

LONDON — Zayn Malik says he worries that he's let One Direction fans down by leaving the world-conquering boy band, but couldn't carry on in a role that made him unhappy.

Malik quit the group this week, saying he wanted "to be a normal 22-year-old." He had earlier pulled out of One Direction's world tour, citing stress.

He told Britain's Sun newspaper Friday that "I did try to do something that I wasn't happy doing for a while" to keep fans happy.

He said he felt "like I may have let them down in some sort of way," but wanted fans to know he hadn't turned his back on them.

And he said his bandmates had been "really supportive."

The four remaining members say they will carry on as One Direction.


PHILSTAR

Albert after Liezl"s death: Life won’t be the same without Liezl FUNFARE By Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 20, 2015 - 12:00am


For the first time since his wife Liezl Martinez passed away last Saturday, March 14, Albert Martinez recalls their last days together when Liezl’s cancer (of the breast) first diagnosed in 2008 metastasized in other parts of her body. Liezl was in remission for almost five years. When her cancer came back middle of last year, it was very aggressive but the couple put up a good fight against it.

Here’s Albert’s story, in his own words:


‘I don’t know how I can recover from this. It’s something so painful that I cannot describe – the longing, the loneliness. We spent 29 years together and survived all the trials and the struggles.’

In September last year, Liezl underwent another CT scan. Unfortunately, we saw something that we were not expecting. Her cancer has metastasized in her bone, and there was thickening of her liver, her ovary and her kidneys. So Liezl underwent another round of chemotherapy and another stem cell therapy. She also had a vaccine. Okey na, or so we thought.

CONTINUE READING...
We started living a normal life all over again, just like in 2010 when Liezl was on remission from the breast cancer that was diagnosed two years earlier.

Later on, her lungs were briefly affected and she got over it. She was well until September last year. She went through a thermo-imaging scan, a procedure available only at St. Luke’s. Some of the cancer grew smaller, the ones in her bone and her liver, and the one in her ovary was gone. In so short a time, may mga tumubo uli.

Sometime in October, we had another meeting with the team of doctors who suggested that Liezl undergo another round of chemotherapy. Liezl and I talked about it and we agreed. The cancer had become very aggressive. The chemo sessions started in November and Liezl adjusted the schedules because she wanted to go to the States, ending on Dec. 10.

She left with our daughter Alissa on Dec. 11, with the doctor’s permission.

The rest of us couldn’t join them on the trip. I still had commitments in Manila and so did Alyanna and Alfonso, our other children.


Liezl and daughter Alissa during one of their weekend Muhlach clan parties where they had fun having barbecue and recalling fond memories. Holding of the parties was rudely interrupted when Liezl was rushed to the hospital two weeks ago after she suffered a seizure.

Liezl and Alissa traveled around California, starting in San Francisco where they were joined by our friends there. There, she and Alissa visited our old houses, the first in Vallejo and the second in Benicia. She sent me the pictures with the houses in the background.

We kind of retraced our steps down Memory Lane. That was good. Then, she went to L.A. to visit her dad (Romeo Vasquez) and joined her cousin Aga (Muhlach) and his wife Charlene (Gonzalez) in Las Vegas where they welcomed the New Year.

We…Alyanna and Alfonso…spent the New Year with the Cojuangcos (Tonyboy and Gretchen) in Calatagan. We were in touch with Liezl and Alissa.

It was the first time that our family didn’t spend the New Year together. But we did miss each other. Aga would later tell me during the New Year celebration, Liezl went to the room alone and Aga kind of cheered her up.

When she and Alissa arrived in early January, Liezl underwent another scheduled chemo sessions and the continuing stem cell therapy. We were dealing with a different type of cancer which was very aggressive, which was spreading very fast, and which wasn’t reacting to the new medication.

“Papa, let’s stop this,” Liezl told me when she realized that so many of her vital organs were damaged at bale-wala lang sa cancer niya ‘yung mga gamot at procedures.

“Let’s stop na the chemo. It’s my fourth time (since 2008 when she was diagnosed with cancer) to undergo the chemo sessions, we have given the procedure a chance and it’s not working anymore. We have to try something different.”

So we went to The Farm in San Benito in Tagaytay to try the ozone-and-Vitamin C therapy. It worked for her for a while. Right after the first therapy, Liezl looked and felt like brand-new. On our way to Tagaytay, she was complaining that my car was so bumpy when actually it was not. But on our way back, she wasn’t complaining about my car’s suspension. I told her, “You looked great! We were holding hands, we were laughing. We were so happy!”

After two weeks, we went back to The Farm for another treatment. I was shooting, so she went with my team and the driver. She came back and she was okay.

And then, unexpectedly, her health started deteriorating. But she continued her duty as board member of the MTRCB (Movie and Television Review and Classification Board).

She and Alissa attended the screening of Fifty Shades of Grey, the last time that she reviewed. She was down already, having a hard time.

From then on, every time she came home, I would assist her, inaakay ko na siya.

She couldn’t breathe well so I ordered for oxygen tanks at home. We started with a five-pounder, then the 10-pounder and two 20-pounder which she consumed in 24 hours.

We found out that her cancer was in her stomach na, it crumpled her stomach so she couldn’t eat. She started losing weight. I wanted to bring her to the hospital but she said no, “I’d just die in the hospital. If I would be cured, I want it at home.”

That was in February. We were like running a hospital at home. We requested the doctor to go to our house and we hired a nurse to regularly check her blood pressure and to do regular blood chemistry. She was in pain medication. She was deteriorating little by little. She didn’t want to be confined in a hospital and we followed her wishes.

Then, I suggested that we hold a Muhlach clan party and we had barbecue in the afternoon. It was the last time that Liezl spent with the Muhlachs. Kuwentuhan sila, ang saya-saya, and the party lasted until one o’clock the next morning.

One Saturday, it was a group of Muhlach relatives (Aga, Charlene and their family); then, another group of Muhlachs the next Saturday.

First Saturday of March, Liezl couldn’t talk anymore. She complained, holding her chest, that her palpitation was going too fast. I was in tears. She looked at me and asked, “Why are you crying?” I said, “Because you promised me that you‘re taking your medicines but you are not.”

She said, “One at a time, Papa, one at a time.” She was taking Buscopan to stop her intestines from being swollen. Every time she took something solid, she threw up.

I’d been reading the symptoms and I knew that something was terribly wrong. I called Aga, “You better come na.” Aga came with Charlene and they kept talking to Liezl but Liezl wasn’t responding anymore. She was only saying, “Ah, ah, ah!”

The entire family started crying. I told the kids, “One of these days, Mama will go. It’s not gonna be long.”


PHOTO OF ROMEO VAZQUEZ COURTESY OF ABS-CBN: “Kino comfort nga ako nila Gloria (Romero) kanina eh, sabi ko bandido rin ako pero ganun pala yun kapag anak mo ganun pala yun.” Sa huling sandali, nagpaalam si Romeo sa kanyang anak at nagbigay ng makahulugang mensahe. “Sabi ko nga kay Liezl binuksan ko ang coffin sabi ko sa kanya have a nice flight. Kinausap ko na ang mga tao sa itaas sila St. Jude, St. Therese, sabi ko na I hope when I see you in heaven someday you will remember me.” Bobby said. NEWS HEADLINE ABS-CBN: Romeo Vasquez to daughter Liezl Martinez: 'I hope when I see you in heaven you will remember me' 3/17/2015 9:48 PM by: Jeff Fernando

I told my father-in-law to come over because Liezl might go that weekend. (Note: Liezl died at 6:14 Saturday morning, March 14. Bobby arrived from L.A. late night that same day.)

I hardly slept that Saturday night. I woke up at 2 o’clock and moved to Alyanna’s room and slept there. I woke up at 4 a.m., checked on Liezl in another room where she slept with Alissa, who was serving as her nurse.

I told her, “Mama, I will go now. I have a shoot (for Sugo, the film about INC head Felix Manalo)) in Laguna. She mumbled, “Okay,” and I told her, “I love you” and she mumbled, “I love you, too.” I kissed her and I said, “Wait for me.” She said, “Ah, ah.” And then I left na.

Monday, March 9, I got a call from Alfonso that his Mama suffered from a seizure. Alissa was able to wake her up and they rushed their Mama to the nearby New Era Hospital to be stabilized and it was the New Era ambulance that brought Liezl to Medical City.

All the while, I was in communication with my mother-in-law (Amalia Fuentes). I called her, it’s my obligation, because she has a right to know what was happening to her daughter.


AMALIA FUENTES: PHOTO SCOOP COURTESY OF RAPPLER.COM: 'For the longest time, I was never part of their life, but I was always there for her,’ Amalia says of her only daughter Liezl was 18 when she met Albert. The two eloped and left for the United States to start a family. Since then, it was reported that Amalia and Albert didn't always get along. After issuing the statement, she went back to the hospital, where she is confined. It was reported she had a breakdown after Liezl's death last Saturday. Before leaving, Amalia saw her nephew Aga Muhlach, who tried to comfort her. Meanwhile on Instagram, Liezl’s eldest daughter Alyanna thanked everyone for their prayers and good wishes, and that the family would like to grieve by themselves.

At the Medical City, the doctors told us that, ito na, it was terminal. That’s when I started throwing up, nothing was coming out of my stomach but I kept throwing up. Maybe from too much stress. At the private room where Liezl was brought, I continued throwing up. Still, nothing was coming out of my stomach.

Her doctors were giving up but I told Liezl we were going to fight the cancer together. I fired one doctor and hired a new team. I told them, “Let’s do it. If I can buy one minute, one hour, one day, one week…let’s do it. I’m not allowing you to give up. I just talked to my wife and she said that we have to fight it, so let’s do it!”

Liezl did well for a while. Her vital signs were okay, her heartbeat was okay, her blood chemistry was okay. But on the fourth day, Friday the 13th, her condition started deteriorating again. She wasn’t in coma. We checked her eyes and she was reacting but she wasn’t moving.

Her medications were changed. I was so happy because her blood pressure increased from 49/41 to 91/89. But then, her blood pressure started going down again, until I couldn’t keep track of the numbers anymore.

I whispered to her, “Mama, do you still want to fight? Move your hands, move your eyes.” She shed a tear in her left eye. I dozed off and when I woke up, I saw her blood pressure going down, down, down. By the time the doctors came in, flat line na si Liezl. They asked me, “Do you want us to resuscitate her?” I said, “If you resuscitate her, can you bring back her blood pressure to normal?” They said, “No.” I looked at Alissa. We didn’t have to say a word. We hugged in silence.

“Let Mama go in peace,” she cried. I looked at Liezl. She seemed to be just asleep. She was so beautiful! I’m telling you, she was soooo beautiful! She looked so happy. I was looking at an 18-year-old Liezl.

In an instant, Alfonso and Alyanna rushed to the hospital.

It was 6:14 Saturday morning, March 14. Liezl died with her favorite yellow Hello Kitty blanket covering her.

Before she died, Liezl had commissioned a team to have our place landscaped but she didn’t live to see it completed.

I told her, “Mama, when you wake up, you will see how beautiful the landscaping is.”

On March 27 when Liezl would have turned 48, the ninth day after her death, Alissa will mark her birthday. On April 19 when I turn 55, it will be the 40th day after Liezl’s death.

We completed our bucket list (travel abroad, etc.), except that we were not able to go skydiving.

I don’t know how I can recover from this. It’s something so painful that I cannot describe — the longing, the loneliness. We spent 29 years together and survived all the trials and the struggles.

I don’t know how life will ever be without Liezl.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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