Maricel: I feel like a VIP at TV5

Edmund L. Sicam (The Philippine Star) - March 22, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - It is an upbeat Maricel Soriano who greets the entertainment media at an intimate press gathering launching her new project. As everyone knows, the Diamond Star, who has long been identified with ABS-CBN, has agreed to appear in a drama anthology on TV5.

Maricel gushes over the way she was treated on the set. “It feels good. I feel like a star. I feel very important.” She stresses, however, that she did not sign an exclusive contract. Later, however, she jokingly expresses a desire to be “adopted” by TV5.

The veteran actress, whose long career spans 39 years and counting, is considered a prize catch for Manny V. Pangilinan’s revitalized network. She joins Dolphy and Ruffa Gutierrez, among others, in TV5’s roster of new talents.

 I am reminded of what the late Geny Lopez did before martial law to boost ABS-CBN’s ratings. He resorted to pirating popular stars from the other networks, a strategy he duplicated when he recovered his network after EDSA 1. The strategy paid off.

Pangilinan’s entry is good news to viewers, who have long been limited to a choice between the Kapamilya and the Kapuso networks. Now, there’s a new TV channel to look forward to.

Maricel explains why she accepted TV5’s offer: “As time goes by, it’s nice to accept change wholeheartedly. Parang foundation yan, e, pag puyat ka, ayaw kumapit. But if your heart and your mind is open — especially since we love our work, it won’t be hard to accept change.”

She adds that everything went smoothly when she told ABS-CBN, her network of many, many years, about her decision to do a show for a competing channel. “I did not say goodbye. Since they still didn’t have projects for me, I will do this in the meantime.”

Maricel has already finished taping two of five episodes for TV5’s upcoming weekly drama anthology 5-Star Specials which premieres tonight at 8. In the first episode, a comedy directed by Soxy Topacio, Maricel plays a balikbayan who comes home to retrieve her daughter after learning that her ex-husband, who is gay, passed away. Complications arise when she meets her ex-husband’s gay lover, played by Roderick Paulate. The next episode will highlight Maricel’s acting prowess in a horror-themed story, directed by Ryan Carlos. Future episodes will be directed by Joyce Bernal, Joel Lamangan and Eric Quizon.

The Diamond Star hints that she may do other shows for TV5. “We will just surprise you,” she says. She turns to Percy Intalan, the network’s head for creative and entertainment, who explains that other possibilities are indeed being explored. On a light vein, she jokes that she wants to play the role of the owner of TV5. She gets excited when I ask if a movie project was also being considered.

The entertainment writers are impressed at how Maricel looks much younger than her age. She’s the first to admit that she’s already 45. Her secret? “I’m at peace with myself,” she says. “I’ve been through a lot. I’ve experienced joy and sorrow I’ve learned to accept what comes. I’ve embraced the changes in my life. I’ve gotten rid of my baggage. Mahal ang bayad sa Customs kaya huwag dadalhin ang mabigat na baggage.”

When she mentions the term figure eight to refer to her physical appearance, someone asks if she’s referring to her eight-figure talent fee. Maricel dismisses the remark and says, “It’s not all about money.” Then, she restates her gratitude to TV5 for the wonderful way she’s been treated. She adds that the love showered by her two boys, Marron, 23 and Sebastien, 17, is more valuable than money.

“My sons are very nice. I take care of them but they also take care of me. They’re always there for me,” she says proudly.

When talk turns to politics, Maricel clams up and says she has no comment. However, she says that if later, we see her endorsing a candidate, it’s because she believes in that person and she will not accept any monetary compensation for her support. Asked if she will endorse ex-husband, Edu Manzano, she had no comment. However, she says the two of them remain good friends.

Maricel started in show business when she was only six. I ask her how she made the difficult transition from kiddie to grown-up roles. She credits Dolphy for helping her. As a child star, she had appeared with the comedian in several movies. When he decided to do John en Marsha on TV, he cast Maricel as one of his kids. It was in this sitcom where she grew up and developed her acting skills. She matured on the show so it was an easy transition to grown-up roles when the time came.

At 45, Maricel has been given a golden opportunity to prove to one and all that she’s still a force to reckon with.

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