Abaya laid to restBy Marinel R. Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – Multi-awarded director and writer Marilou Diaz-Abaya, who died on October 8 after a five-year battle with cancer, was laid to rest at the Loyola Memorial Park in Parañaque on Saturday morning.
“We shall continue all the good that you’ve started not just in the movies but in our lives as well,” said actor Cesar Montano, who made the promise to Abaya, his “personal adviser and friend,” in his eulogy shortly after a necrological Mass on Friday night.
Abaya was Montano’s director in the landmark films “Jose Rizal” (1998), “Muro Ami” (1999) and “Bagong Buwan” (2001). He attributed to Abaya his landing the role of Captain Juan Pajota in the Hollywood flick “The Great Raid” (2005), starring Benjamin Bratt, James Franco and Joseph Fiennes.
“I wouldn’t have landed the role if not for her training. Filming the three movies had been extremely difficult. I saw how dedicated she was to her craft. She was a perfectionist. To the people she worked with, she had so many surprises,” eulogized Montano at the Gonzaga Building chapel of Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City. “Thank you, Direk, for your love for the country, its people and for those of us you considered your friends.”
Actress Ina Feleo, whom Abaya directed in her last film “Ikaw ang Pag-ibig” (2011), said the latter always knew how to make her cry. “I was like an instrument that she knew how to play so well,” said Feleo, daughter of Abaya’s friend and contemporary, actor-director Laurice Guillen, with the late actor Johnny Delgado.
“She was my source of comfort. She believed in me more than I believed in myself,” the actress said. “When she introduced me to people, grabe siya kung magyabang. She was so proud of me kaya ako na lang ang nahihiya. She fought for me to portray the lead in her last movie.”
Feleo then recalled an incident she had with Abaya while filming. “Nagkatampuhan kami. We were about to shoot a very serious scene when she called my attention for being too loud and rowdy. We sat down and she made me realize how big my responsibility was as the lead actress. Natauhan ako.”
In her eulogy, Guillen described Abaya as “a generous teacher, dear friend and sister.” She intimated hat Abaya and Delgado were stricken with cancer only months apart. Delgado passed away on Nov. 19, 2009.
“She was a regular visitor of Johnny. She was the only member of his support group,” Guillen said. “Marilou went the way she chose to go—the way of Jesus… God speed, be our advocate in heaven.”
Among those who delivered eulogies were journalist-sociologist Randy David and community activist and publisher Mona Lisa Yuchengco. The necrological rites preceded a Mass at 6 p.m. that was celebrated by Bishop Pablo David.
“Direk always believed that in the end one will not be judged based on what he has accomplished but by how many people he has loved and loved him back,” said Feleo “You’re No. 1, Direk. Hindi ka nagkulang.”
Abaya’s remains were transferred to the Church of the Jesu, also inside the Ateneo compound, at 6 a.m. on Saturday. A Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi at 8 a.m.
In a previous interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Abaya’s son Marc said his mother planned her four-day vigil and burial like the meticulous director that she was. “That was our joke—that she was directing until the end.”
He said that Abaya wanted the ceremonies to be simple and had left everything up to the members of the Jesuit Communications, where she was also a trustee, to carry out her instructions. “I guess she didn’t want me, my brother (David) and father (Manolo) to be stressed,” Marc told the Inquirer.
Abaya was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. Her health improved in 2008. The illness returned the following year and was gone again in 2010. It recurred in 2011.
In 2001, Abaya was awarded the Arts and Culture Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes. Abaya’s films have also been exhibited at festivals in Munich and Dusseldorf. Her masterpiece, “Jose Rizal,” was the closing film at Guggenheim Museum in New York City in March 1999.
Abaya was the founder and president of the Marilou Diaz-Abaya Film Institute and Arts Center, and a film instructor at the Ateneo de Manila University. She was also 2005 Women for Peace co-nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Abaya was brought to her final resting place at 12:30 p.m.
“You’re the greatest teacher and mother. We will always love you,” said Abaya’s son Marc during his goodbye speech. “Now rest and see you in time.”
Marc continued: “We will never forget all the lessons she taught us.”
Montano and his wife, actress Sunshine Cruz, filmmaker Olivia Lamasan, actor-tv host Jhong Hilario, actor-director Laurice Guillen were among those who attended the burial.
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