Moviegoer: TWO WOMEN

Published September 9, 2020, 12:27 PM

by Manila Bulletin

JUST A THOUGHT: Music in the soul can be heard by the universe. —Lao Tzu

TWO WOMEN: They were icons in their fields, one in the movie world, the other in lifestyle journalism.

They ought to be remembered, not only for the marks they made  in their lifetime, but just as importantly, for the color and vibrancy with which they lived their lives.

Here’s hoping the heavens will still make women of their caliber, with that bravura, generosity, and sense of style, with matching humor, in the days to come.   

Marichu Vera Perez-Maceda and Ethel Soliven-Timbol, two feisty, accomplished women, died within days of each other this September.     

‘’Manay’’ Ichu, as she was fondly called by all, was 77. Ethel T was 80.

Both suffered from lingering illnesses.

JOLLY GOOD FELLOW: For all her sophistication and pedigree, ‘’Manay’’ Ichu, industry pillar and heiress to the legacy of Sampaguita Pictures, was the easiest person I have had to deal with in the movie business.

Marichu Vera Perez-Maceda

She was always casual and jolly in her conversations, and showed genuine interest in the other person. She was simple as she was grounded.

In the late 1970s, I joined her on a coverage of a movie her outfit, MVP Productions, was filming in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. On the first day of shoot—the film was “Dyesebel” — early the next morning, the set was filled with young actors and actresses,  either half-naked or in swim suits.

Dyesebel herself, Alma Moreno, wore pearly shells on her breast and a fishtail.

Ichu surprised everyone by showing up at the beach, wearing high heels and a formal white gown.

She said she dressed that way because she wanted to create a happy, glam-filled set.

OLD SCHOOL, OLD WORLD:    ‘’Manay’’ Ichu could be playful. She loved to laugh.

Tell her a bad joke, and she’ll still laugh for you. I guess that’s her way of showing she cares for you and your presence.

Or maybe, she was just being polite.

Politeness comes with the territory. Marichu is so old school, so old world, that her death can be compared to the passing of an era, such as the Philippine Commonwealth.

They don’t make men and women like them anymore.  People who are gentle, genteel, elegant.

To the end, she lived up to the demands of that bygone era she was brought up in.

She wrote letters to friends by long hand. Her last letter to me was written in 2019, in which she enclosed a basket of tinapang bangus from Pangasinan.

She sent Christmas cards delivered at your doorstep. She wrote sympathy notes when someone dear passes on.

She was everything this new world has ceased from being.

COLOR IN JOURNALISM: Throughout her lifetime, many couldn’t understand her. She wasn’t a woman for nothing.

Ethel Soliven-Timbol, 80, who reigned as Lifestyle Editor of the Manila Bulletin from 1976 to 2007,  was a tough nut to crack. She was feisty, all right, yet she could also be very funny and witty.

Ethel Soliven-Timbol

She gave color to journalism by speaking her mind, what first came to it, regardless of audience, location, or circumstance.

Often, that remark could be biting, which sent people cowering in fear, or in awe.

An old school journalist, Ethel demanded perfection from her writers. She screamed over wrong grammar or syntax, swore at PR persons who wrote bad press releases.

On a good day, in the middle of editing and closing pages, we would hear her sing out loud, as if she was alone in the big newsroom, nonchalantly.

But, that was Ethel, she could get away with most anything. She was queen, after all, and who cared if she couldn’t sometimes hit those high notes?

SOFTY SIDE: We, Ethel’s long time colleagues at the Bulletin, also knew the lady’s other side.

She could be soft and tender, like the slice of moisty chocolate cake she would offer me in the afternoons when her desk would be flooded with all sorts of pastries and food from everywhere, from people who worshiped at her feet for a square inch of space in her most sought after section.  

Dianne Feinstein said, ‘’Toughness doesn’t have to come in a pinstriped suit.’’

Ethel did one better. She dressed elegantly at all times, never forgetting she was one tough lady whose voice was to be taken seriously at all times, whether or not she was joking, or just being her spoiled-little-rich-girl self.

Bye, Ethel!

 
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