Andi Eigenmann on late mom Jaclyn Jose: ‘Her life itself was her greatest obra maestra’

Leah C. Salterio - The Philippine Star
Andi Eigenmann on late mom Jaclyn Jose: �Her life itself was her greatest obra maestra�
Jaclyn with daughter Andi and grandchildren Ellie, Lilo and Koa.
Photo from Jaclyn's Instagram

MANILA, Philippines — Bringing home the much-coveted acting trophy from the Cannes International Film Festival in 2016 was a major career highlight in the life of the late multi-awarded actress Jaclyn Jose (Mary Jane Guck in real life).

Jaclyn became the first Southeast Asian talent to win at the prestigious filmfest for her portrayal of a resilient matriarch in Brillante Mendoza’s “Ma’ Rosa.” She went to Cannes to personally receive her award, accompanied by her daughter Andi Eigenmann.

At the time of her death, Jaclyn was playing prison warden Dolores Espinas in the Coco Martin-led “FPJ’s Batang Quiapo.”

Her passing was first confirmed in an official statement from Perry Lansigan’s PPL Entertainment, Jaclyn’s talent management company, in the early hours of yesterday morning.

“The Guck and Eigenmann families are requesting for everyone to please pray for the eternal repose of Miss Jaclyn Jose and for them to be allowed the respect and privacy to mourn her passing and navigate these difficult times.”

In a press conference yesterday afternoon, an emotional Andi delivered the family’s official statement, laying to rest speculations surrounding her mother’s shocking demise.

“It’s with great sadness that we announce the untimely passing of my Nanay at the age of 60 on the morning of March 2nd, 2024 due to a myocardial infarction or a heart attack.

“We’d like to thank everyone who has since extended their prayers and condolences to us. As our family is trying to come to terms with this unfortunate incident, please provide us the respect and privacy to grieve and we hope this would put all speculations to rest.

“Just like to say that her undeniable legacy will definitely forever live on through her work, through her children, grandchildren and the many lives she has touched. She herself, her life itself was her greatest obra maestra,” Andi said.

In 2016, Jaclyn Jose became the first Filipino and Southeast Asian talent to win at Cannes International Film Festival for her portrayal of a resilient matriarch in Brillante Mendoza’s ‘Ma’ Rosa.’ She went to Cannes to personally receive her award, accompanied by her daughter Andi Eigenmann.

On Sunday, March 3, Jaclyn was reportedly found lifeless by her actress-sister, Veronica Jones, in the former’s home in Quezon City. It was her sister who checked on her when the latter was not responding to calls and text messages for quite some time.

Jaclyn’s two children — Andi and Gwen Garimond Guck — were not with her at the time of her death due to heart attack. Andi was in Siargao, where she is based with her family, while Gwen was in the US, where he is studying.

Social media was flooded with fond recollection and remembrances of Jaclyn whom they all worked with at one time or another.

The Film Development Council of the Philippines said it mourned the passing of Jaclyn, noting her contributions to Philippine cinema and television for four decades.

Alden Richards, who worked with Jaclyn in such GMA dramas as “Mundo Mo’y Akin,” “Carmela,” “The World Between Us,” wrote: “My heart aches like a son who lost his mom… You will be with me always, I love you my Tita Jane.”

Coco, who was Jaclyn’s co-star in several Brillante Mendoza films, including the 2022 Summer Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry “Apag,” posted a picture with the late actress on the set of their last film together.

“Isa pang mahalaga sa buhay ko, nawala ka pa,” Coco wrote.

Jaclyn made her big-screen debut in 1984 in William Pascual’s “Chicas,” after which she was cast in director Chito Roño’s “Private Show,” although she earlier shot Lino Brocka’s “White Slavery” but that was shown the following year (1985).

When direk Chito was looking for a lead to audition for “Private Show,” written by National Artist for Broadcast and Film Ricky Lee, Jaclyn was highly recommended.

“We scheduled an audition then at New Frontier, which is now Kia Theater,” Ricky told The Philippine STAR. “There was one artist who was scheduled to be there, but didn’t make it. We mentioned to Chito that Jaclyn was highly recommended by Lino after ‘White Slavery.’

“Jaclyn was requested to come for the audition. I remember, pupungas-pungas pa siya when she arrived. Ginising yata siya to go to the audition. She was really young at that time. But she was really good and she got her first lead role in ‘Private Show.’”

After that, Jaclyn and Sir Ricky worked in many other films. She was in Lino Brocka’s “Macho Dancer” (1988), Joel Lamangan’s “The Flor Contemplacion Story” (1995) and “Aishite Imasu Mahal Kita 1941” (2004).

Jaclyn as prison warden Dolores Espinas in the Coco Martin-led ‘FPJ’s Batang Quiapo.’

Jaclyn also starred in Ricky’s first theater play, “Pitik-Bulag sa Buwan ng Pebrero” (2009), directed by Joel Lamangan. It was also Jaclyn’s first theater venture.

“She was really nervous at that time, but she turned out to be very good and natural,” Ricky recalled.

Jaclyn also did director Laurice Guillen’s teleplay, “Desaparecidos” (2014), also written by the National Artist.

“I did many films with Jaclyn,” Ricky proudly said. “She became my friend through the years with our projects together. She was very simple. Hindi siya artista. Taong-tao. Madali mong makasundo.”

When Jaclyn watched her last film with Ricky, Mac Alejandre’s “Call Me Alma,” shown at the Cinemalaya Film Festival last year, she was in tears while watching.

“Taong-tao siya,” Ricky said. “She was watching her film at umi-iyak pa rin siya at nagre-react siya.”

When Ricky became the president of FAMAS, she got Jaclyn as juror. That was after she won for “Ma’ Rosa” at the Cannes Film Festival.

“She had a keen eye for detail,” he noted. “She remembered the details about what she saw in the movie that we discussed. She had a very sharp eye.”

In 2022, Jaclyn essayed the role of a killer mom for the first time, a real challenge for her, in director Bobby Bonifacio Jr.’s dark, psychological and sexy thriller, “Tahan,” written by Quinn Carillo. The latter coined the title from a mother’s plea to her child.

“It was really difficult,” Jaclyn said then about her role. “I got to take out innards of the guys I kill. Then I throw them away. But my director helped me a lot in every detail of this project.”

Being a killer mom was totally shocking and unbelievable for Jaclyn. “I never thought a mother could do everything I did in this film,” she asserted.

The veteran actress leading the cast of mostly showbiz newcomers in the 2016 Cebuano dark comedy ‘Patay Na Si Hesus.’ Jaclyn never said no to good projects and always supported the younger generation of actors.

The multi-awarded actress found it hard to say “no” when “Tahan” was offered to her. As the domineering mother, Nora, Jaclyn didn’t initially have qualms about tragically throwing her daughter into prostitution. Nora went on a killing spree to save her daughter from the latter’s abusive clients.

“You can’t say no to a good project,” Jaclyn insisted. “I believe in the project. Very mysterious. When I talk to new stars, I always tell them, I was once there. I will never terrorize the newcomers.

“The young stars are the next generation who can continue in this industry. We need to make their job easy so they can do well in showbiz. We should be nice to them. They are the future of this industry. They will continue the work. So, let’s not intimidate them.”

Jaclyn agreed that “Tahan” was a mother’s longing for her children. “If you are a mother, you will not stop crying,” she explained. “You can’t stop a mother when she cries.

“When a mother misses her children, you just have to control and keep on loving. A mother cannot stop. She is consistently on the look out. Even when she’s sleeping, you cannot stop a mom when she cries.”

Jaclyn is survived by her son Gwen, daughter Andi, and grandchildren Ellie, Lilo, and Koa.

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