Melanie is her own masterpiece
STARBYTES - Butch Francisco () - April 16, 2005 - 12:00am
Like Madonna, Melanie Marquez is also her own masterpiece - her own re-creation because she keeps re-creating what life has given her.

Sure, her beauty (oh, those high cheekbones) and enviable height are God-given. But the rest are basically her handiwork.

She may be the queen of malapropism, but she certainly is no dumb brunette. For how many people are capable of turning something that initially seems to be horrendous into something victorious?

Take for example her once rather thorny life – a sorry existence that was filled with wants. Instead of moping over the semi-tragedy that was her youth, she turned it around and made a movie out of it – The Untold Story of Melanie Marquez, which won scores of awards in the 1987 Metro Manila Film Festival, including the Best Director trophy (his one and only) for her late father, Artemio Marquez.

But what probably is the sweetest victory there is the fact that she beat acting great Jaclyn Jose (for Olongapo: The Great American Dream) in the Best Actress race.

Then there’s the issue of her being Miss Malaprop – mocked, scoffed and laughed at. Hah! Let’s just wait till she’s done with her book on malapropism (or Melanism – as Ricky Lo had so aptly put it). Predicted to be a bestseller, she could jeer at all of us as she laughs her way to the bank.

Initially, I don’t think she was comfortable when people were making fun of her unintentional butchery of the King’s language. More than a decade ago – when I was writing for another daily – I sought her out for a print interview and she was reluctant to give me one. Previoulsy – so she related – a writer from the same paper had interviewed her and made a laughing stock of her by printing all her statements verbatim (wrong grammar and all).

Eventually, I was able to persuade her to give me an interview and I’d like to think she was happy with the write-up because she sent me a ham for Christmas.

However, more vicious attacks – no, not on her person, but on her grammar - came after that from other unsympathetic members of the press.

But now, the (street-) smart person in her must have realized: Heck, if you can’t beat them, beat them to a race to the bank with this book on comic misuse of words that almost sound alike.

In the beginning, I didn’t think she was serious with the book project. But more than a month ago, somebody on her behalf came to the Startalk studio and gathered some malapropisms that I encountered in my many interviews with Melanie.

Well, I don’t remember them all, but one that sticks to mind occurred in 2001. We were on the set of Startalk and I asked her why she had not been making movies. Her answer came quick: "Alam mo naman ako, semi-retarded na."

Initially I thought I could use some cotton buds to clean my ears – until I heard suppressed giggling all over the studio and then I realized that I really heard it right.

Does she do it on purpose? Some people suspect she does. From my end, I’m not sure. But the one question I’ve been aching to ask her (except that I keep forgetting – or probably I don’t have the guts to ask) is why she always insists on conducting her interviews in a language that she has yet to master.

The fact that her command of the English language has become a comic relief for the cruel among us, however, does not necessarily mean she is any less intelligent. Oh, believe me, she is far smarter than all of us and, surely, can beat us in any game especially if she puts her head into it.

As an actress, I believe that she still has a lot of potentials in her waiting to be tapped. I remember a drama anthology she did once for Maryo J. de los Reyes on Channel 5 where she plays a married woman who falls for the family driver (Anton Bernardo). Under De los Reyes’ guidance, she delivers a fine dramatic performance that you don’t normally associate with Melanie because she is often identifed in comic roles (Working Girls 2, as one of the Flower Pot girls in Super B, etc). But I swear she gives a wonderful acting job in this one.

Tonight on GMA 7 (after Idol Ko si Kap), Melanie will try another branch of entertainment as she ventures into TV hosting (with this paper’s esteemed Ricky Lo) in Showbiz Stripped.

It’s one program I intend to watch week after week because I am a personal witness to its grand preparations since the staff involved there are the same people I work with in Startalk.

Showbiz Stripped
will surely benefit from Lo’s showbiz expertise. As for co-host Melanie, I’m sure she’s going to be a lot of fun. But keep your ears glued for more malapropisms - some of which may find their way to Melanie’s future book. Remember, however, that you’ll be hearing them first in Showbiz Stripped.

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