Manay Ichu is in their hearts
It’s easy to spot Manay Ichu in these ‘family photos' of the barkada. Top: She is seated fourth from right and (above) standing fifth from right.
Manay Ichu is in their hearts
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - September 9, 2020 - 12:00am

Tomorrow morning when you wake up And the sun does not appear... —from the song I Will Be Here

Early Monday morning, Sept. 7 (eve of Mama Mary’s birthday, Sept. 8), Maria Azucena Marichu Vera-Perez Maceda didn’t wake up, she very quietly drifted into an eternal sleep at a hospital in Quezon City. Cardio respiratory failure, according to the official announcement from the family.

Simply Manay Ichu to her the family, friends and the entertainment industry, the lady loved for her hearty laughter put one over everybody by making a French leave, so much like a movie’s leading lady staging a subdued walkout. There was no sadness of farewell, all right, but Manay Ichu must have had enough time for that during her two-month illness, bravely attending meetings (as member of the Executive Committee/Execom of the Metro Manila Film Festival/MMFF, etc.) including the monthly potluck salu-salo of the barkada lit up by off-the-record showbiz tsismis that served as the dessert...even when she was already wheelchair-bound.

This is how the barkada (minus a few who “can’t be reached”) remembers their self-appointed Mother Hen, excluding Susan Roces who was too numb with shock and sadness to pour her heart out.

With Sen. Grace Poe when Grace announced her candidacy in the 2016 presidential election.

• Sen. Grace Poe: Tita Marichu was a fearless and selfless advocate of artists and the film industry. Spanning decades, she devoted herself to promoting and protecting the rights of filmmakers, producers, directors and actors.

She was an active member of the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP), the Mowelfund and the MMFF.

She was a shoulder to cry on for many. A champion of the marginalized and oppressed. An activist with a heart. She took care of me in my youth and accompanied me to visit colleges abroad. She also accompanied me and my future husband (Neil Llamanzares) when we went on dates in San Francisco. During that time, Tita Marichu was also in San Francisco because her son was performing with Kundirana. I remember, she cooked the best pochero for the whole Kundirana choir. She did it because that’s how she was with her children. Thoughtful and supportive.

Tita Marichu was there for my family, especially during the saddest days when my father passed away.

She was our constant companion, and she never wavered in her resolve to seek justice for the 2004 elections. She tirelessly collected all documents to prove FPJ’s victory.

She was a woman of great courage and integrity and compassion. She was the tita everyone wished they had. I am one of the lucky ones to have known a woman like Tita Marichu.

Manay Ichu with Danny Dolor (during his birthday two years ago) and Susan Roces.

• Danny Dolor: I will never forget the magic of Manay Ichu’s laughter. She was the only person I had met who had such vibrant and musical laughter. Many times she was Mother Hen to our barkada.

Twice, I invited her to be the guest speaker of my Tribung Filipino’s tribute to the composer Tito Arevalo and the movie queen Carmen Rosales. Manay Ichu’s speech on her fond memories of Carmen was so heartfelt that it merited one page in Ricky Lo’s Entertainment section of Philippine STAR and landed in the column of Teddy Benigno, also in STAR, thereafter. Wow! I will never forget her.

• Dolor Guevarra: My fondest memory of Manay Ichu is ‘yung lagi niya sinasabi sa akin na magbago naman kami ng menu every time na merong dinner ang barkada.

• Girlie Rodis: I remember Manay Ichu for her time when I had an artist who suffered from physical abuse during a film shoot. She met with my talent, myself and Celeste Legaspi (a friend of the talent) at her home. She arranged for us to meet with her friend Atty. King Rodrigo (now husband of Boots Anson) who gave my talent valuable advice and agreed to represent her pro bono because of Manay Ichu. I will miss her wonderful and thoughtful Christmas presents. She never forgot to order ahead monogrammed travel items, etc.

• Pat-P Daza: Manay Ichu always had a generous and loving heart. She loved working with her hands, making bracelets, flower arrangements and wrapping gifts. Come Christmastime, she would distribute MMFF season passes among the barkada since she sat in the MMFF execom. I will miss you, Manay Ichu. You were always very helpful and you gave motherly advice when needed.

• Ronald Constantino: Her acts of kindness, big and small. Visiting me at home when my mother died. Surprising me with food and gifts.

In the movie industry, she was the real Mother. With her passion and knowledge, she made sure that the movie industry was constantly improving. She was admired and respected in the industry. As a person, she was very thoughtful, generous and compassionate. She will be greatly missed.

• June Rufino: I am deeply mourning the death of a true, loyal and caring friend of 25 years, Manay Ichu. She is an ICON, a selfless fighter of the film industry. She always helped anyone who needed help and would not stop until she was able to help. I have sooo many fond memories of her. One of my funny memories of her is when she would call me and says, “June ano nga ang sasabihin ko sa yo” and she and I would end up laughing at her senior moment. I love her very much and will truly miss her. She will always have a special place in my heart, Manay Ichu thank you for your love and friendship. I have been so blessed to have you in my life.

• Malou Choa-Fagar: Manay Ichu was a mother to the dabarkads, caring and loving. When we traveled, she would make ribbons for our luggage. She was very organized, too. When delivering items to me, I needed to sign a receipt copy. She loved to write notes of appreciation whenever I did favors for her. I will miss you, Manay Ichu!

• Veana Fores: She would always tell me what her favorites were from CIBO so I would surprise her and send her, and she would call me and tell me how thrilled she was having her favorite pumpkin soup and spinach dip. I will never forget how she would laugh with me when she saw me hiding my food giveaways from the barkada’s regular dinners. And she would announce na “Si Veana, tinatago ang food nya!” I will miss her so much!

• Lawrence Tan: I loved making her cry with laughter but in our trip to Hong Kong she had me laughing for almost 30 minutes because of her legendary scotch tape. The scotch tape will definitely live on and on and on. Thank you, Manay Ichu, for your guidance, compassion, thoughtfulness and love. You will always be in my heart.

• Gelo Jamias: There are so many wonderful and unforgettable memories with Manay Ichu. Our regular barkada get-together kainan and chikahan and all her kuwento. Our exchange of messages and, most especially, Manay Ichu was the one who invited me thru Tita Dolor Guevarra to join the barkada. Love you, Manay Ichu!

• Antonio “Mr. T” Tuviera: Nanggigigil siya when she saw my meds na naka-goma. Walang class daw. And don’t say anything bad about the movie industry at mang-aaway ‘yan.

• Mads Tuviera: I remember the message she sent me on my recent birthday... “Happy birthday, Mads. Several times during this journey of mine, you come as my angel. Thank you so much. Love u!”

• Ethel Ramos: She was very thoughtful to a fault. She never forgot to greet me on every special occasion. Like on my birthday last Aug. 1, she personally called to greet me. Rest in peace, Ichu!

• Shirley Kuan: I love my travel memories with Manay Ichu. She made me laugh so much yet lovingly kept us on our toes at the same time. She was the sweetest friend you could wish for. She would randomly send me her specially-ordered penoy na supsupin because she knew my kids and I loved it. Even during the lockdown and she was already bedridden, she told me that she tried to order my favorite puto from Manaog.

And here were the text messages between Helen Gamboa-Sotto and Manay Ichu a few weeks before Manay Ichu died:

Helen: Aww, my GOD. Manay I pray for you day and night. I know how much you’ve suffered. Please bear with it some more, though. Prayers and our Love, GOD will heal you soon. I Love you, Manay. Don’t give up!

Manay Ichu: Yes pero hindi ko pa nakakain. Takot pa ako at baka kumati lalamunan ko. Thanks, Helen. Love u and my love to Tito Sen. Hi Helen, sorry ngayon lang ako nakapagtxt. Was watching u on TV today. Cooking inihaw na bangus! Dyos ko, mukha ka namang Reyna ng Buckingham Palace, biglang nag-iihaw ng bangus ! Hindi ko ma-take! Pag sagot mo sakin hindi na kita puedeng sagutin uli. Bawal pa magtxt. Miss u and love u so much. Guapo ni Tito Sen sa salt and pepper hair nya, ha.

Helen: Hi manay! Am so happy to hear from you! I hope you are better…Manay, you’re right! Mas guwapo si Sotto sa kanyang new look! Love you, Manay!

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

MANAY ICHU
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