The GangBy Behn Cervantes
Philippine Daily Inquirer
When friends mention The Gang in reference to our group, they mean Au Cobarrubias, NUT, Loly Mara and I. They refer to our tight group of fast friends that once included Cynthia Patag (before she moved to Iloilo to care for her aging mother) and the late pop star Ric Segreto before he passed away in a tragic traffic accident.
The Gang once included “theatrical” friends like Pilar de Guzman Palabrica, film star Tommy Abuel, as well as journalist Norma Japitana (before she became too busy with her singing talents who include Rico Puno, Marco Sison and Richard Merck) and model Gina Leviste.
These days, The Gang includes talented singer/actress/comedienne Mitch Valdez, economist Jimmy Regalario and lawyer Lorna Kapunan, as well as multiawarded film director/actress Laurice Guillen. It also includes cultural activist Marichu Maceda and my New York chum Angela Timtiman. Before she passed away, Haydee Yorac was a cherished member of The Gang. She was our commentator on the Philippine social and political climate. (We miss her, as we do dear Ric!)
When they have time, we welcome award-winning singers Dulce and Pinky Marquez, together with their partners, Bernard and Mari.
We also welcome the likes of Gemma Cruz and Gloria Diaz, as well as Barbara Perez and Robert Arevalo—and the mother and nephew of NUT. Yes, we are eclectic. We only require that members of The Gang be very talented! They must also have the gift of gab. When we get together, it is sure to be a riot!
We have shared many happy moments together—natal days as well as celebrations like Christmas. Sometimes, we get together merely because we miss each other.
We exchange gifts and take trips together—to Quezon, Baguio and Bataan—etc!
How did we start as a group? Au produced hit dinner theater shows for Hotel Mirador, and got NUT to direct them. Loly was encouraged to take charge of the public relations concerns of the hotel, and helped with the productions, too. One was “Cabaret,” which was directed by Nestor and starred Cynthia and Ric. I played the Emcee. We performed the musical in Iloilo after the Manila shows.
We got together regularly after the tour. We evolved into our Gang—a closely knit set of friends who gossiped and laughed as well as wept for and with each other.
We would meet in Au’s San Juan home, which was full of ambience and good food. Or, we would meet at their restaurant, Harbor View near the Rizal Park Grandstand.
Naturally, since we are energetic and expressive, we sometimes have to figure out who stepped on someone’s “sensitive toes.”
To be sure, we love each other, but we are an artistic and talkative group, so it is not surprising that we sometimes say too much and hurt each other’s feelings. As a gang, we have learned that we love each other because we are kooky, unique and original.
When we say someone in The Gang is buang, we mean to premise that statement with our wacky general assessment of the group: “But, so are we all, anyway!”
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