What Mama Nene taught her children

FUNFARE UPDATE - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star

“Never sell this property.”

That, according to her daughter Marichu “Manay Ichu” Maceda, was the constant reminder (nay, order!) of her mother, Azucena “Mama Nene” Vera-Perez who died at 2:56 yesterday morning at the St. Luke’s Medical Center where she was confined at the ICU due to pneumonia that led to the failure of her vital organs. She would have turned 97 on May 22.

The property is the sprawling Sampaguita Studio in Quezon City where Mama Nene helped her husband, Starmaker Dr. Jose R. Perez, fondly known as Doc Perez, groom stars including, among the many others, Rogelio dela Rosa, Carmen Rosales, Tita Duran, Pancho Magalona, Gloria Romero, Luis Gonzales, Eddie Garcia, Alicia Vergel, Daisy Romualdez, Jose Mari, Liberty Ilagan, Eddie Gutierrez, Lolita Rodriguez, Ric Rodrigo, Rita Gomez, Marlene Dauden, Romeo Vazquez, Juancho Gutierrez, Van de Leon, Eddie Rodriguez, The Stars ’66, Vilma Santos and Susan Roces whom the couple launched as “The Face That Refreshes” in 1956.

“One time,” recalled Manay Ichu, “we visited Fernwood (a social-events venue in Quezon City) and Mama liked that place. She told us, ‘Ito ang gusto kong gawin n’yo,’ to convert the (Sampaguita) studio into an entertainment venue.”

Sadly, Mama Nene didn’t live long enough to grace the venue’s inauguration next month but she will be there for a final “look-see.” Her remains will lie at the Mt. Carmel Church in Quezon City until tomorrow, May 16. The next day, she will be brought to the entertainment venue for an overnight wake and will be buried Sunday, May 18, at the Manila Memorial Park beside Doc Perez after a Mass.

“Siya ang reyna ng studio kaya dapat lang may wake sa kanya sa studio,” said Manay Ichu, one of the Vera-Perez surviving children including Gina de Venecia, Lilibeth Nakpil, Chona Ampil, Pepito and Cocoy. Their brother Bobby died in 1977, two years after Doc Perez died on July 28, 1975.

“Mama did things her own way. May 14, the day she died, is Cocoy’s wedding anniversary and May 18, the day she will be buried, is Bobby’s birthday.”

Mama Nene’s passing marks the end of an era. Sampaguita Pictures was put up a few years after World War II by Sen. Jose O. Vera and his wife Dolores Vera. Later, Doc Perez and Mama Nene took over the reins. Sampaguita was then ranked as The Big 3 along with LVN Pictures and Premiere Productions. Mama Nene was the last of the iconic Movie Matriarchs together with Doña Sisang de Leon of LVN and Doña Adela Santiago of Premiere who both passed away years ago.

Asked what was the lesson that Mama Nene taught her and her siblings, Manay Ichu said, “Honesty. She also reminded us never to quarrel over money.”

Born to a wealthy family in Camalig, Albay, Mama Nene grew up with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth.

“She was spoiled by her parents, her husband and her children,” added Manay Ichu.

When the Sampaguita Entertainment Venue is blessed in June, Mama Nene will be sorely missed, but her presence will be dearly felt.

(E-mail reactions at [email protected]. You may also send your questions to [email protected]. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)


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