If the nuns could see Mother Lily now...
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - August 21, 2014 - 12:00am

Back then, the nuns in school put their thumbs down on her as the girl least likely to succeed, describing her as good for nothing.

“I took it as a challenge,” Regal Matriarch Mother Lily Monteverde recalled as she turned 75 on Tuesday, Aug. 19.

You couldn’t blame the nuns and the teachers because Lily Yu the student would skip classes to watch movies (especially those starring the late Nida Blanca and Nestor de Villa) or scale the walls of the Sampaguita Studio to catch a glimpse of Gloria Romero and her other favorites.

“Most of the time,” added Mother Lily who is a diehard movie fan up to now, “I would sneak out to watch Remy in his games,” referring to her husband Remy Monteverde who was a popular basketball player. “I felt like a winner because I was the one who caught his heart.”

Mother Lily is one of a kind. She could talk to three different people on three different phones…swapping tsismis on one, scolding a director who’s delaying the shoot or going over-budget on the second, and instructing her staff to prepare the (post-dated) checks on the third. She’s a joy to watch as she does the “trick” with the precision of a magician.

Of course, her life is an open book — how she started in the industry selling popcorn at the rooftop of the old Shoe Mart Building on Avenida Rizal and putting the foundation of what is now known as the Regal Empire with a borrowed P10,000 with which she bought a copy of the tearjerker All Mine To Give. That was almost half a century ago.

Regal Films is marking Mother Lily’s birthday with the slick sex-comedy Somebody To Love, directed by her good friend Jose Javier Reyes (one of her pet directors), showing nationwide starting yesterday.

If Regal would produce Mother Lily’s bioflick, it would need more than just one director, a dozen scriptwriters and a cast of thousands (because she built up most of today’s enduring actors) and it would run for hours and hours and require a brilliant director like Lav Diaz whom Mother Lily discovered through her “pito-pito” system.

When her college batch had a reunion a few years ago, the nuns were present to watch “the good for nothing girl” tell her success story.

“I thanked them,” said Mother Lily. “I told them that what they said about me served as a challenge for me to strive and make good.”

Mother Lily hosted a birthday dinner at her new events place called #36 Valencia St. in Quezon City, right across from the Sampaguita Studio (now a sprawling events place) where she climbed the high fence to catch a glimpse of her favorite stars.

If the nuns could see Mother Lily now, I’m sure they would give her a standing ovation.

(E-mail reactions at entphilstar@yahoo.com. You may also send your questions to askrickylo@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)

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