Manila Bulletin

THE VERA-PEREZ SIS­TERS AS THE SWAN AND POLLYANA

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This is the tale of two princesses of the royal fam­ily of Filipino movies, two well-loved sis­ters, who each carved their own con­stel­la­tions in the uni­verse of lo­cal stars and lm pro­duc­tions. The two girls are part of the Vera-Perez fam­ily, who founded Sam­pa­guita Pic­tures in 1937. In the ’50s, the pa­tri­arch Sen. Jose Vera en­cour­aged his son-in-law Doc Perez to take over. It proved prov­i­den­tial as the stu­dio our­ished even more, and reigned as the coun­try’s big­gest movie-mak­ing ma­chine un­til the ‘70s.

Doc Perez and his wife

Nene Vera have seven chil­dren:

Marichu, Pepito, Gina, El­iz­a­beth, Bobby, Chona, and Gre­go­rio. Gina says that her sib­lings are her best friends. They sup­port each other in hur­dling life’s chal­lenges, big and small. The four sis­ters have been par­tic­u­larly close. They are a team, she stresses—one for all, all for one.

As the el­dest, Marichu Maceda or Manay Ichu bene tted the most from their fa­ther’s lov­ing di­rec­tion and the other sib­lings agree whole­heart­edly. Doc Perez was the famed star­builder of the most beau­ti­ful movie queens, the likes of Glo­ria Romero, Su­san Ro­ces, and Amalia Fuentes. Gina says that their papa ador­ingly guided his own daugh­ters, so that they would be up to par with his movie queens.

Gina de­scribes her el­dest sis­ter as “the Swan,” who em­bod­ied grace, style, and el­e­gance. “Manay Ichu was the prim and proper one,” she says. “While she was ‘the Swan,’ I was the Pollyanna.” (Pollyanna was the child char­ac­ter played by Hay­ley Mills in the 1960s, a child who was al­ways look­ing at the bright side of things.) Gina was the ac­tive mid­dle child, who climbed the san­tol and tamarind trees in the Vera-Perez com­pound of their youth. Marichu saw her as the treeclimb­ing tomboy, who never went down the stairs prop­erly. “But she still loved me, any­way,” she says, who adds that in her most try­ing times, there were three con­stants, who shielded her from pain and fail­ure: her Papa, her mother Nene, and Marichu. “She was the buoy­ant force that kept me steady as I nav­i­gated the per­ilous worlds of show­biz and pol­i­tics,” Gina says.

Marichu and Gina did share sim­i­lar paths.

In fact, there was a pe­riod in Philip­pine his­tory, from 1996 to 1998, when their hus­bands, Ernesto Maceda and Joe de Vene­cia

(JDV), oc­cu­pied the top posts in the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment. Maceda was se­nate pres­i­dent while JDV was speaker of the house. At present, both of them have a son in congress: Rep.

Christo­pher de Vene­cia of Pan­gasi­nan and Rep.

Ed­ward Maceda of Manila.

Marichu was the rst to be­come a politi­cian’s spouse when she mar­ried Maceda, then a young coun­cilor of Manila. When Gina be­came in­volved in pol­i­tics as JDV’s wife, she had the best men­tor. “She guided me as I and the con­gres­sional spouses built a na­tional cen­ter for women in cri­sis, The Haven for Women. She was also my per­sonal direc­tor, when I hosted the TV an­thol­ogy, Pira-Pi­ra­song Pan­garap. She even as­sem­bled the me­dia team, who helped me prop up my projects,” says Gina.

Marichu was also very sup­port­ive when Gina and Joe lost their daugh­ter KC to a re that gut­ted their house in 2014.

Gina con­sid­ers Marichu as her sec­ond mother, whose cre­ative spirit and em­pa­thy she misses, along with their love of chat­ter.

“Manay Ichu was nat­u­rally good-na­tured,” she says. “Not even sick­ness could dampen her com­pas­sion­ate spirit. Even in her sickbed, she man­aged to com­pile a col­lec­tion of clas­sic movies for Joe, think­ing per­haps that watch­ing great clas­sics would bring him de­light and respite in this pan­demic.

Marichu died on Sept. 7. On Oct. 16, the Vera-Perez and Maceda fam­i­lies com­mem­o­rated her 40th day in heaven.

To sur­vive this great per­sonal loss, Gina nds in­spi­ra­tion in Marichu’s words. “When we were chil­dren, I used to sell the fruits I picked from the trees. In one of Manay’s

in­ter­views, she said: ‘As the el­dest child, I wor­ried about my younger sib­lings. But I was very pleased with Gina’s en­tre­pre­neur­ial skills. I knew she could fend for her­self when she grew up.’”

“Manay Ichu al­ways be­lieved in me,” says Gina. “I wish we had more time to do the things we saved for later. I thank God for all that Manay had taught me through the years.”

 ??  ?? LOV­ING MOTHER Marichu Maceda with her five sons: (from left) Ernesto Jr., Ed­mond, Er­win, Em­manuel, and Ed­ward (seated)
LOV­ING MOTHER Marichu Maceda with her five sons: (from left) Ernesto Jr., Ed­mond, Er­win, Em­manuel, and Ed­ward (seated)
 ??  ?? SIS­TERS PACT The Vera-Perez sis­ters, from left: El­iz­a­beth, Gina, Marichu, and Chona
SIS­TERS PACT The Vera-Perez sis­ters, from left: El­iz­a­beth, Gina, Marichu, and Chona
 ??  ?? DEEDEE M. SIYTANGCO
DEEDEE M. SIYTANGCO
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