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Aga in his sister Arlene’s eyes

/ 12:04 AM August 12, 2019

From left: Aga, cousin Liezel and Arlene Muhlach

Since it’s the birthday of Aga Muhlach, my good friend from way back (since pre-“Bagets” days), I opted to interview his older sister, Arlene, about him. She fondly calls Aga “Morning” (based on his initials, AM), and he calls her “Terlene” (short for Ate Arlene).

Arlene, who’s also like a sis to me, is his female version in so many ways. Aga does not seem to age at all but, according to her, he wants to age gracefully and doesn’t go for “age-defying scientific stuff.”

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“Morning doesn’t even want to dye his hair,” she reveals.

Thank you, Ags, for the kind of friendship that has stood the test of time, and for your support when I’m embroiled in crazy controversies. I’m forever in your corner. It’s no coincidence that you were born in the same month (17 days ahead, and 11 years after) as our idol, Michael Jackson. Both of you were born to be icons.

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Watching MJ’s “Dangerous: Live in Singapore” concert with you, Goma (Richard Gomez), Tito Joey de Leon, Aiza Seguerra and other friends in the biz will forever stand out in my memory.

How can I forget that you “made arbor” one of the MJ shirts I bought, even if you could afford to buy the entire souvenir stall?
That’s one of Aga’s many ways of endearing himself to his friends. Just got lucky (as the “Bagets” theme song goes) to be one of them.

Here’s my chat with Arlene:

What advice from Aga do you follow? In jest, he said, “Humiwalay sa pamilya. Sa social media lang magpakita para walang away (laughs). (It’s better to stay away from family and just be updated on each other through social media to avoid quarrels.)

Kidding aside, his advice to love unconditionally and always forgive is something he really practices. It’s hard to follow, but I try my best.

What don’t people know about Aga? When he was a baby, instead of thumb-sucking, he sucked on the edge of his blanket and different parts of it all throughout the night. By morning, half the blanket was wet. So, to me, he looked like a rat because of his queer way of sucking. I could not pronounce the word daga, so I ended up calling him Aga, instead of his real name, Ariel.

What’s the craziest experience you’ve had with Aga?

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Every summer of our lives until we were adults, we went to Tali beach with the whole clan. Aga, Liezl (their late cousin) and I would jump off cliffs. Even when we were already in our 30s, we still did that dangerous stunt. We will always be water babies no matter how old we get because of those memorable summer vacations in Tali.

Arlene Muhlach (seated) with brothers Aga (top) and Albert

What is the best part of being Aga’s sister? Experiencing his unconditional love and generosity. I never had to ask or say it twice. He is very sensitive to our needs, most especially to our late mom, who had simple joys in life.

If you could give Aga an intangible birthday gift, what would it be? Fortitude. The assurance that even when family can sometimes be bothersome, we always have his back.

PERSONAL: Damo guid nga salamat to my adoptive family in Iloilo, Allan and Neng Tajanlangit, for another memorable getaway in my second home. Palangga ko guid kamo, migo kag miga.

Thanks a mil also to Nette and James Tomeo, and Mitch Torres for an overdose of fun. Daghang salamat to Rey Pelongco of my fave resto in
Iloilo, Y2K, for the treat.

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