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Cherie Gil: Trivia about Philippines' beloved 'La Primera Contravida'

Kathleen A. Llemit - Philstar.com
Cherie Gil: Trivia about Philippines' beloved 'La Primera Contravida'
Cherie Gil in "Full Gallop."
Erickson dela Cruz, Toots Tolentino

MANILA, Philippines — Hers was a classically beautiful face that reminded people of old Hollywood glamor. Cherie Gil might had been known as the "kontrabida" (antagonist) who had immortalized a famous line in a film, but the revered actress was anything but the annoying villain that everyone loved to hate. 

Born Evangeline Rose Gil Eigenmann to actors Eddie Mesa and Rosemarie Gil, Cherie came from the famous Eigenmann showbiz clan, an acting family that has produced some of the best actors in TV and cinema. She started the same route as many showbiz offspring had — by playing bit roles, usually as the daughter of a family friend in movies.

Her break came when starred in the 1980 Ishmael Bernal classic “Manila By Night.” Two years later, Cherie cemented her iconic status when she played naive Trining Ojeda in the 1982 Peque Gallaga World War II opus "Oro, Plata, Mata." 

In 1985, she reinvented the face of Philippine kontrabidas by bringing to life the character of ambitious, go-getter and fashionable Lavinia Arguelles in "Bituing Walang Ningning." 

"You're nothing but a second-rate, trying hard copycat," Lavinia uttered in the film's climactic scene. To this day, this copycat line has been reenacted countless of times, even by Cherie in some of her TV guestings. 

Her and Sharon Cuneta's Dorina Pineda are among the unforgettable rivalries in Philippine cinema.  

Here are some other trivia on Cherie Gil that proves she is among Philippine TV and cinema's gem. 

1.  She improvised on her iconic "Bituing Walang Ningning" confrontation scene with Sharon Cuneta.

Her spilling of water on Sharon was her spontaneous improvisation or "ad-lib" and was not part of the script. She said she was carried away by emotion and felt like she needed to do more because just saying the line was not enough, and slapping has been over-used in movies.

Related: ‘My true screen partner’: Sharon Cuneta mourns Cherie Gil’s passing

2. Cherie had a great sense of humor.

Her face might intimidate people at most times, but the actress knew how to deliver a punch line. She appeared in the 1980s gag show "Champoy" with TV greats like the late Subas Herrero, Tessie Tomas, Noel Trinidad, Gary Lising and Mitch Valdez. 

In more recent years, she also guested and traded jokes with the cast of GMA-7's longest-running gag show "Bubble Gang," where she played herself and even did alterations of her famous "copycat" line.  

She was also the co-host of the late German Moreno in "Gemspesyal" from 1979 to 1981. 

3. She was a model and worked as one of Rustan's last batch of VIP models.

"I was the youngest of bunch and the 'funnest." When I auditioned, they had to keep an eye closed to the age limit, which was then 15. I was only 14. Great experience!" said Cherie in an interview for one of her stage productions, "Full Gallop," where she portrayed fashion icon Diana Vreeland. 

4. Cherie was a reader.

She loves reading the classics and works by acclaimed authors like Khalil Gibran, Milan Kundera, Paolo Coelho, Ernest Hemingway, Khaled Hosseini and Dr. Seuss. Her favorite books are "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Exupery and "The Places You Go" by Dr. Seuss. 

5. Cherie also tried singing.

She released the 1979 single "(Boy) I Love You." 
 
Cherie was also a celebrated singer and stage actress. She starred as the iconic Maria Callas in Terence Macnally's "Master Class." 

She also channeled the famous fashion columnist and editor Diana Vreeland in "Full Gallop." 

6. Cherie was awarded the Ani ng Dangal award by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) on February 29, 2016.

She was cited for simultaenously winning the Best Actress award at the ASEAN Film Festival for her role in the 2013 Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes film "Sonata" and Best Actress in a foreign film at the Madrid Film festival for her portrayal in "Mana."

"Sonata" was the first film she produced with her favorite collaborator, Gallaga.

RELATED: Cherie Gil dies, Sid Lucero confirms
Tributes pour for 'amour' Cherie Gil

CHERIE GIL

MS. CHERIE GIL

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