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Muhlachs say final farewell to Cheng

/ 01:00 AM May 22, 2018

Muhlach siblings, from left: Barok, Albert, Arlene, Aga, Almira, Andrea, Andrew, AJ

The Muhlachs have been family to me since the 1980s, when my friendship with Liezl (Martinez) began. That’s why I share their grief in mourning the death of Aga’s dad, Tito Cheng, whom I fondly called Tito Guapo. He was fatherly to me. I will miss our phone chats and bonding moments.

Tito Guapo would always update me about the condition of Mama Nena (his sis, movie queen Amalia Fuentes), who’s still recuperating from a stroke. How he doted on her. During Mama Nena’s birthday last August, Tito Guapo prepared a feast. He asked me to bring Mama Nena’s fave, seedless grapes. Now that he’s gone, I’m sure he will keep on watching over his beloved sister from up above.

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At the wake of Tito Guapo, it was touching to see the former political rival of Aga during the 2013 elections, Wimpy Fuentebella, condole with the family. As Aga put it, “We aren’t enemies naman.” What a noble gesture for Wimpy to do.

Aga’s eulogy for his dad was funny and “senti” in equal parts. This part hit my heart bull’s-eye: There was a time when Papa and I didn’t talk for years—until an emergency happened, which led to his throat infection. He kept crying and apologizing to me. It’s unusual for a parent to ask forgiveness from his son. He said, “Aga, please forgive me.” I told him, “Pa, how can I not forgive you?” That beat all of Aga’s award-winning dramatic moments in his movies. To lighten the mood, Aga said in jest, “Pa, in heaven, you have no more diabetes, no more pain … but also, no more girls to court.”

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Niño recalled that during his “wonderboy” years in the biz, he would listen to nobody else but his Tito Cheng. “When he told me to jump, I jumped,” Onin said. “It was like I was under his spell.”

Since Tito Cheng always wanted everybody to be jolly, his kids Albert and Arlene managed to keep things light during the inurnment rites. While we were walking from the chapel to the crematorium, Arlene chided, “Papa wants us to shed off toxins and lose weight, that’s why he made us walk this far.”

When the urn of Tito Guapo was about to be placed beside the urn of his wife,
Tita Anita, they had a hard time fitting it in, so Albert kidded, “Seems like Papa doesn’t want to be reunited with Mama yet.”

Being cool, zany and wonderful runs in their clan. The Muhlachs all have a little of Tito Cheng in them. Thank you for loving me like your own, Tito Guapo. Carry on and spread your charms in heaven.

Personal: Thanks a bunch to the Muhlachs’ family friend/fave event coordinator, Yoyah Quizan.

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