Mother Lily on the moms of Gretchen & Heart
WILL SOON FLOURISH - Wilson Lee Flores (The Philippine Star) - May 12, 2013 - 12:00am

Some mothers are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together. — Pearl S. Buck

One of the most famous mothers in the Philippines is veteran film producer and hotelier Mother Lily Yu Monteverde, the 74-year-old founder of Regal Films, youngest of 12 children of 1950s self-made copra tycoon Domingo Yu Chu and wife of businessman Leonardo “Remy” Monteverde of the Dy-Monteverde family.

The nickname “Mother Lily” was coined by Pilipino Star Ngayon columnist Lolit Solis and the late talent manager Douglas Quijano in 1970. Mother Lily recently survived lung cancer due to early detection and an operation. One of her hospital visitors was President Noynoy C. Aquino.

Lolit Solis said that during her heyday as a top movie producer, Mother Lily gave houses to her talents like Mel Chionglo, Aiza Seguera, Maricel Soriano, the Eddie Gutierrez family, two houses for Snooky Serna, three homes for Lito Lapid, a condominium unit for scriptwriter Ricky Lee (which he later returned to her), a house for healing priest Father Corsie Legaspi, a condo in Ortigas Center  in Pasig for Aga Muhlach, etc. 

Award-winning scriptwriter Bibeth Orteza said giving homes to stars is good  business so they can help her create more films, but Mother Lily also paid for funeral/burial  expenses of those who could no longer help her create films like Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Mario O’Hara, Julie Vega, Claudia Zobel and others. Sources said that after Brocka’s death, a bank was about to foreclose on his house, but Mother Lily paid off the debt so that Brocka’s mother could continue to live there and own his house.

Mother Lily recently granted Philippine STAR an interview. Excerpts:

PHILIPPINE STAR: Two of the biggest showbiz controversies involving feuds between mothers and kids are those of your former actresses Gretchen Barretto and Heart Evangelista. What is your advice to them?

MOTHER LILY Y. MONTEVERDE: My advice to all of them is to patch up their differences because they have only one mother… I also believe mothers cannot turn their backs on their children. A mother is always a mother, even if there are misunderstandings and mistakes committed by their the children; we should still love our kids.

Do you think they can patch up?

I’m sure they will patch up because blood is thicker than water.

A famous mother was the late President Cory C. Aquino. How did you meet when she discussed her daughter Kris wanting to be an actress?

President Cory invited me to Malacañang, so I went to meet her one afternoon. She was endorsing Kris to me as a talent.

Who else was there in your meeting, her eldest daughter and personal secretary Ballsy?

No, Ballsy was not there. It was just Cory and me. She told me Kris wanted to be an actress.

Your reaction to Cory entrusting her daughter to you?

Of course naman, na-touch ako (I was touched) that Cory wanted Kris to be my talent, and I was very grateful. 

Who were the other mothers who approached you to make their kids actresses or actors?

Mila Ocampo and her daughter Snooky. Maricel Soriano and her mother who was very patient and made lots of sacrifices. The late actor Alfie Anido, his mom Sarah Serrano was my former classmate at St. Scholastica College and she sent a message that her son wanted to be an actor. Alfie’s mom was the most beautiful in our class of 1958… Annabelle Rama also offered Ruffa Gutierrez as a talent.

Any other mothers of stars whom you cannot forget?

Milagros Tuason Santos, the mother of now Governor Vilma Santos Recto, she’s very accommodating and kamukha ni Vilma (looks very much like Vilma).

What about those moms of stars who were so-called “stage mothers”?

I prefer not to comment on that topic  because I want to avoid negativity.

Any message to mothers, whether in showbiz or not?

Kahit anong kasalanan, mahalin natin ang ating mga anak (Whatever sins, let us love our children), even if they have been disobedient or have done bad things. It is very hard to be a mother, it takes a lot of sacrifices. Even if your kids make mistakes, you just have to smile with them.

Among our local actresses, who most convincingly played mother roles on cinema or TV?

Gloria Romero, Anita Linda… You know, one mother movie which really made me cry was the American film All Mine to Give. This was also the film that made Regal Films, it was my start in the movie business; I imported this film for the Philippine market.

You have made several Mother’s Day films before?

Yes, there’s Mother Dearest directed by Lino Brocka, another directed by Mario O’Hara. I had three mother-themed movies that were big box office hits… By the way, one of my favorite productions was my 1979 film Ina, Anak, Kapatid directed by Lino Brocka, screenplay and production design by Mel Chionglo, starring Charito Solis, Laurice Guillen, Lolita Rodriguez, Rio Locsin, Ric Rodrigo and others.

So that movie is the inspiration for ABS CBN 2’s popular TV series with the same title Ina, Anak, Kapatid and already in its third season? Did they pay you for this?

No, I wasn’t paid a single centavo.

You’ve supported so many senatorial candidates from Team P-Noy and also UNA, who among them are good mothers?

All are good mothers.  Loren Legarda’s a good mother. Every time I go out with her, she’s nonstop in calling her kids on the cell phone, just like me. Apart from her love for her late mother, I also admire Loren for her love for her childhood yaya (nanny) like her second mother. When her yaya got sick, she sent her to Stanford for medical care… Grace Poe Llamanzares also raised her three kids well.

There are no perfect mothers in this world. Sometimes we as mothers throw our tantrums, sometimes we hurt our kids, but in our hearts we really love our children.

What about showbiz stars who are exemplary mothers?

Sharon Cuneta Pangilinan is a good mother. Kris Aquino, she does everything for her boys. She’s a very devoted mother… Vilma, she’s a good mother, her two sons turned out well. Her son Luis is earning so much, that’s what Vilma told me and he seems to be a good person. Vilma’s youngest son is very smart, too.

Lolit Solis said she and the late Douglas Quijano called you “Mother Lily,” that you didn’t want to be called “Mrs. Monteverde” and only “Lily,” but they thought calling you “Lily” was disrespectful. Your reaction to this famous nickname?

Natutuwa naman ako (I’m happy with it). I always wanted to be a mother, it comes from my heart.

How old were you when you first became a mother?

I was 20. I have five children.

Are good mothers also good wives?

No, some mothers are good mothers, but not good wives…  Lahat naman ng mothers (All mothers are) all good, except in that foreign movie entitled Mother Dearest… Wala namang mother na masama (There’s no bad mother), not unless…

Not unless what?

… Ay naku, can you imagine yung mother-daughter na mga away (Ay, can you imagine the mother-daughter feuds), so sad…

As a mother to the stars, you must not only love them, but how about disciplining them? How did you do it?

 (Laughs) You have to psychologize them. Some artistas parang galing sa outer space (artists seem to have come from outer space)!

Motherhood is important because...?

Actually, being a mother is the most difficult job in the world, because you need to make sure to raise good children. It’s not only difficult to have kids grow in our stomach for nine months, and then the very painful birth. Being a mother, we’re responsible that you raise good children because they will impact the world and their own children, because how we raise our kids will also impact on the way they will raise their children.

Any final words about mothers?

People who ignore or don’t take care of their mothers will never find real success or happiness.

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