Manay Ichu Maceda âShe lived well, laughed often, and loved muchâ
Marichu Vera-Perez Maceda, 77.
Manay Ichu Maceda ‘She lived well, laughed often, and loved much’
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - September 18, 2020 - 12:00am

She had a smile that would light up a room like a red parol for often, she would wear feisty red lipstick, the color of the roses that filled her wake.

That was the late Manay Marichu “Ichu” Vera-Perez Maceda, 77, who I knew not so much as a pillar of the movie industry — though that she was — but as a warm and loving sister to her siblings. I was also told by my uncle, former Oriental Mindoro vice governor Pedrito Reyes that when Manay Ichu was campaigning for her husband Ernie Maceda’s bid for the Senate in the ‘70s, Manay Ichu stayed overnight in our ancestral house in Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro.

I met Manay Ichu during my very first interview with her sister Gina, wife of then Speaker Joe de Venecia. Even if she were older, Manay Ichu took the backseat and put Gina always on center stage if it was Gina’s show. She used her experience as a political wife, an organizer and a naturally creative person with an eye for the theatrical to help mold Gina from a shy political wife into a confident one, an asset to JDV.

Manay Ichu (extreme left) with her siblings (from left) Gina, Lilibeth, Chona and Cocoy.

According to Gina, whose husband JDV served five terms as House speaker, Manay Ichu “was the buoyant force that kept me steady as I navigated the perilous worlds of showbiz and politics.”

In fact, there was a period in Philippine history, from 1996 to 1998, when the sisters’ husbands Ernie Maceda and Joe de Venecia, led the Senate and the House of Representatives as the Senate president and speaker, respectively.

That’s why I titled my very first article on Gina, “Sister Act.” Because that’s what left a deep impression on me, the dynamics between Manay Ichu and Gina.

Manay Ichu would also help organize Tita Gina’s fun and fabulous get-togethers, especially during Christmas. But she would also have the heartbreaking task of helping Gina cope with the death of her youngest daughter KC in December 2004. The following weeks after that, when friends would meet Gina, Manay Ichu would take them aside first and whisper, “Don’t ask her how she is doing, even if you mean well. Don’t even ask her ‘How are you.’ Because you know the answer.”

Manay Ichu as a young mom with husband Ernie Maceda and their five sons Emmanuel, Ernesto Jr., Erwin, Edmond and Edward.

***

Manay Ichu never lost that star-like smile, whether she was busy beading necklaces and bracelets or welcoming guests to Sampaguita Gardens, which had become an events place.

“For Manay, the greatest joy was just to be with everyone. To look around and see all the people who meant so much to her,” Gina, the new matriarch of the Vera-Perez clan, said during her eulogy to her beloved sister.

“Manay Ichu was one who had lived well, laughed often, and loved much. She had gained the respect of her peers in the movie industry, and the love of her family and friends,” she said.

According to Gina, Manay Ichu was tutored from the cradle by their late father to be poised and confident. “As the eldest, Manay Ichu benefitted the most from my father’s loving direction. Our Papa, Doc Perez, was the famed star builder of the most beautiful movie queens, the likes of Tita Gloria Romero, Susan Roces and Amalia Fuentes. And as a father, he adoringly guided his daughters so that we would be at par with his movie queens.”

“Among us sisters, Manay Ichu was the prim and proper one. She was refined and an intellectual,” recalled Gina.

Manay Ichu was the quintessential “Manay” or big sister. “Every now and then, I have the misfortune of experiencing personal heartaches. And during those most trying times, there were three constants who guided and shielded me from pain and failure: Papa, Mama and Manay.”

Butterflies flutterring on Gina de Venecia’s hands after her sister Marichu’s inurnment. For her, they were a sign of her elders’ blessing for the new matriarch of the family.

***

During the memorial Mass for their mother, the Maceda boys (Emmanuel, Ernesto Jr., Erwin, Edmond, and Edward) lovingly and so melodiously sang Hindi Kita Malilimutan and Saan Ka Man Naroroon for their mother.

In his homily, Monsignor Soc Villegas said, “Manay Ichu’s death is a mystery for us. Like the death of Jesus is a mystery for us… The second word to remember is her death is also a gift of mercy. The passing away of Manay Ichu was a gift of mercy from the Lord. It was a gift of liberation from the pain of sickness. It was a gift of liberation from needles and tubes; it was a gift of liberation, from aches and pains in the body. It was a gift of liberation from the discomforts that her sickness imposed on her. So her death is a mystery. Her death is also a gift of mercy. So that she should be totally free.”

Monsignor Soc then said that there was another “M” to Manay Ichu’s passing. “Her death is also a gift of mission. It is a gift for us, that whatever she left undone or unfinished, a mission that she embraced in her life it, is now our turn, for the family’s turn, to continue.”

Fare thee well, Manay Ichu! The applause continues to ring even after the curtains have come down on your stage. Bravo!

(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

MANAY ICHU
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