She was one of the popular Softdrinks Beauties introduced by the late starmaker Dr. Rey de la Cruz in the ‘80s. She also went on to become the most controversial sex siren of her generation. But Sarsi Emmanuelle faded from the limelight after doing such critically-acclaimed and commercially-successful films as Virgin Forest, Bomba Queen, Brown Emmanuelle, Gabi Na, Kumander and Tikoy Aguiluz’s Boatman, for which she even earned a Best Actress nomination from the Urian Awards.
Not too many probably know it but Sarsi, who used to titillate half of the male population on the big screen, is now earning her keep as a cashier for a booth in a carnival fairground (perya). No longer the screen bombshell who sent men into wild fantasies, Sarsi now prefers to wear jeans and shirts instead of eye-popping outfits.
Born Maria Jennifer Obregon Mitchell to a good family in Manila, Sarsi had a decent upbringing and even studied in a Catholic school. However, during her teenage years, Sarsi discovered her wild side after her parents broke up. She had a relationship with a much older man when she was discovered by Rey de la Cuz who was her mother’s optometrist.
"Rey approached me and asked me if I wanted to join showbiz," Sarsi relates. "I thought there was no harm in trying so I took the opportunity."
Sarsi was launched as a bold star when she was only 20 with the likes of Coca Nicolas and the late Pepsi Paloma. Sarsi didn’t have qualms about baring on the big screen. To her then, it was purely a job. But Sarsi proved she was no mere bimbo, that there was more to her than just her sexy body. At the height of her career as a bold star, she was even nominated for a Best Actress award for her performance in Boatman.
However, Sarsi surprised a number of movie fans when she disappeared from the local entertainment scene in the early ‘90s. During her absence, she even figured into a headline-grabbing suicide attempt.
"I wanted to live a normal life again that’s why I left showbiz," Sarsi says. "I wanted to be able to do ordinary things again like shopping or riding a jeepney without creating a commotion. With my showbiz earnings, I tried going into different businesses, like selling jewelry or lending money, ‘yung 5-6. But most of those who borrowed money from me ran away without paying me back."
In this Thursday’s (Aug. 7) episode of ABS-CBN’s award-winning drama anthology, Maalaala Mo Kaya, hosted by Charo Santos-Concio, Sarsi finally reveals her life story–the reason she left showbiz and what is it that she has been searching for all these years.
Today’s newest screen sensation Aubrey Miles plays Sarsi in the teleplay which is about a young woman living the life of her dreams–and nightmares. Sarsi also shares with viewers her success, failures and all the lessons she learned in life.
Sarsi gave her consent to Maalaala Mo Kaya to dramatize her life story because she wants to serve as an inspiration to the youth today.
"I want them to learn from what I went through in life because all those things can happen to them," Sarsi says. "Ang suwerte, minsan lang dumadating sa buhay, kaya yakapin mo agad. Dahil pagkatapos, matagal na bago bumalik ‘yan ulit. Dapat mahalin mo ang suwerte."
Starring with Sarsi in the teleplay directed by Malou Sevilla and written by Gilbeys Sardeja, are Elizabeth Oropesa as Sarsi’s mother, Dick Israel as her discoverer Dr. Rey de la Cruz, and Troy Montero, Juan Rodrigo, Michael Flores and Gerard Pizzaras as the men in Sarsi’s life.
The episode also offers viewers a rare glimpse of the real-life Sarsi Emmanuelle as she appears in the opening scene which shows her working in a perya in Novaliches, Quezon City.
Maalaala Mo Kaya airs Thursday at 9:30 p.m. on ABS-CBN.