Death reveals Paraluman's well-kept 'secret'
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - April 28, 2009 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Like all women, Paraluman kept her age a secret but it was something she couldn’t bring with her to her grave.

The Sampaguita star with the classic beauty died at home yesterday after having been bedridden for two years due to Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.

“My mom died peacefully of cardiac arrest,” said Press Undersecretary Baby O’Brien, Paraluman’s only daughter. “She went to sleep and never woke up.”

Asked how old her mom was, Baby laughed a bit.

“Naku, ito na; malalaman na ang matagal na niyang sekreto. She was 85.

Sigrid Sophia Agatha von Giese in real life, Paraluman was born on Dec. 14, 1923, to a German father and a Filipino mother.

“My mom was prayerful,” added Baby. “Even when she was sick, she insisted on going to Mass with us every Sunday. She always prayed the Rosary which she constantly held in her hand, just like the way she did in most of her Sampaguita movies. When she died, her hand was held forward, as if holding her Rosary which we found beside her body.”

At her prime, Paraluman (Tagalog for goddess) was considered the Philippines’ answer to Greta Garbo because of her, according to her biodata, “perfect bone structure, svelte figure, long brown hair, hypnotic eyes, an impenetrable gaze and an expressive face capable of registering any emotion.”

“My mom was a movie fan,” remembered Baby, one-time TV host whose own only daughter, Rina Reyes, also appeared in movies. “She told me how she loved reading movie magazines. She got really excited when Corazon Noble (mother of the late Jay Ilagan), then a big movie star, became our neighbor.”

It was Corazon’s younger sister Lily who introduced Paraluman, who was then 17, to Luis Nolasco of Filippine Films. Nolasco introduced her in Flores de Mayo (1940) in which she used the screen name Mina de Gracia. Fernando Poe Sr. launched her to full stardom in X’otic Films’ Paraluman, which she adopted as her new screen name.

She then starred in more than 70 films. She was nominated four times by the FAMAS, twice in 1959 for Best Actress for the Sampaguita movies Bobby and Anino ni Bathala, in 1972 for Best Supporting Actress for Lilet and in 1976 also for Best Supporting Actress for Mister Mo, Lover Boy Ko. She retired in 1985 after doing Kailan Sasabihing Mahal Kita.

“She didn’t make any last wish,” said Baby. “Because of Alzheimer’s, she hardly recognized us during her last days. All she wanted was to be buried beside her mother’s grave.”

Paraluman’s remains lie at the Funeraria Paz at the Manila Memorial Park in Sucat, Parañaque City. Interment date will be announced later.

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