Chat slips quietly into the night
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo () - April 25, 2006 - 12:00am
She closed her eyes Saturday night and she never opened them again.

That’s how Michael "Mike" Bailon described how his wife Chat Silayan, 1980 Bb. Pilipinas-Universe, slipped quietly into the night. She was declared dead at past seven o’clock Sunday (April 23) at the St. Luke’s Medical Center where she had been confined for almost three months during which Chat waged an unflinching battle against colon cancer with stoic determination. Like Rio Diaz, also a beauty queen (1977 Mutya ng Pilipinas) before she joined showbiz, Chat lost the battle but won the war. She was 46.

"She was lucid until she closed her eyes for the last time," Mike told Funfare during an interview at the Santuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park, Makati City, yesterday afternoon. Chat’s body, lying in a sealed white casket, was brought there at six o’clock yesterday morning. "We were talking and, as usual, she was calling me Mikey as was her wont when she was making lambing. Then, we prayed together. After a while, she closed her eyes and that was it."

Chat’s battle with the Big C started in April 2004 when she underwent surgery on her colon, one foot of which was cut. For a while, Chat felt relief, only for the pain to recur a year later. Her doctors told her she had only one year to live.

"Actually," recalled Mike, a member, like Chat, of the Alabang New Life Center since December 1992 when they got married, "Chat began to be bothered by a pain in her lower back as early as l999. She thought it was due to a slipped disc which was closely monitored by the doctor. The pain went away but it came back in 2004 when she was diagnosed to have colon cancer, first stage. A year later, she was opened up again but the cancer had moved to her ovary, fourth stage. Then, it spread to her liver and other organs."

At first, according to Mike, Chat asked the usual question cancer-stricken patients usually do, "Why me?" But through the long months that she suffered, she became resigned to her fate – you know, Lord, Thy will be done!

She had been on liquid diet since January this year, often taking Gerber.

Ma. Rosario Silayan in real life (the daughter of the late theater-movie actor Vic Silayan), Chat became an overnight star when she won as Bb. Pilipinas-Universe in 1980, the same year she represented the country in the Miss Universe Pageant in South Korea, finishing third runner-up to Miss USA Shawn Weatherly. It was a memorable gift for Chat who was celebrating her 20th birthday that day (July 8).

Noted "beauty expert" Felix Manuel, "The host, Bob Barker, asked the audience to sing happy birthday to Chat who became an instant favorite when she thanked the crowd in Korean."

She joined showbiz soon after. After only a few years, she went to the US to take up acting lessons.

"She was a good person and a good friend," said Melanie Marquez, 1979 Bb. Pilipinas-International and that same year’s Miss Intrernational, Chat’s bosom buddy who was also in the States at that time pursuing a modeling career. "When I was in L.A., she asked her friend to take care of me. When she went naman to San Francisco, I asked my friend to take care of her," added Melanie who was among the first to rush to St. Luke’s Medical Center the night Chat died.

Besides Mike, Chat is survived by her three children, Victor, 17 (from her relationship with an Italian director); and Timothy, 12, and Michaela, 11 (with Mike).

(Her remains lie in state at the Santuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park, Makati City, at the same chapel where Rio Diaz’s cremated remains lay. She’ll be buried at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City on Saturday, April 29.)
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E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph

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