100 loving reasons to celebrate Mama Nene’s life and legacy
When she was alive, Sampaguita Pictures’ matriarch, Azucena “Mama Nene” Vera Perez, was well-loved and valued by many, not just for her and her family’s acumen for discovering and creating screen luminaries, but also for helping them forge long-running and acclaimed careers.
She was also loved for her personal care and concern, which went way beyond professional expertise.
That’s why when she left us three years ago, many felt the loss and vowed to keep the loving and lambent flame of her memory alive.
A couple of weeks ago, at the Vera Perezes’ Sampaguita Gardens events place, we saw for ourselves how brightly that flame continued to burn, as we joined her loved ones in celebrating Mama Nene’s 100th birth anniversary.
Quite aptly and serendipitously, there were more than 100 people in attendance—each with a loving, living reason to thank the “centennial” celebrant for how she had personally blessed his or her life.
Quite a number of the stars the Vera Perez family had discovered and launched into long-running careers were in beaming and appreciative attendance, including some luminaries led by the ageless Susan Roces, who’s a working actress (on “Ang Probinsyano”) to this day—more than 60 years after she became a teen sensation in the studio’s star-making film, “Ang Boksingera.”
It’s no coincidence that Susan and Mama Nene and Dr. Perez’s daughter, Manay Ichu Maceda, have been bosom buddies for a veritable lifetime—yet another indication of the personal bond that continues to link the family with its stellar discoveries, through thick and thin.
Manay Ichu and her siblings were proud and overjoyed that their revered mother was loved and valued by so many members of their “extended” family.
Aside from this personal bond that’s been sustained through the decades, movie people are grateful to the Vera Perez siblings because they continue to keep the Filipino movie industry’s best interests at heart—Manay at Mowelfund and the Film Academy of the Philippines; Lillibeth at the Sampaguita Film Archives, etc.
Talk about putting your heart where your mouth is, this is abiding love vivified.
Our reason for loving and thanking Mama Nene relates to the manuscript we wrote about Sampaguita Pictures, which took us many years to complete.
Through all of the numerous interviews and analyses involved, Mama Nene was our inspirational driving force, her personal involvement and excitement about the project sustaining us through the rough and tough times.
She even went the extra mile of looking for and sharing her long-lost wartime diary with us.
By the way, it should be published separately in full because it’s a cinematically and culturally significant testament that we describe to friends and colleagues as “our very own ‘Gone with the Wind!’”
As Mama Nene’s centennial celebration went on for many hours, other friends and durable stars privately shared their own loving recollections and appreciation.
They glowingly paid tribute to a life not just well but luminously lived, by a wise and witty woman, everyone’s Mama Nene, who continues to glow and live in our grateful heart of hearts.
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