Mona Lisa, a tribute | Inquirer Entertainment

Mona Lisa, a tribute

From the memories of a granddaughter
/ 12:30 AM October 12, 2019

Mona Lisa


Our performing careers are stellar opposites.


Lola Gloria’s (aka Mona Lisa) was the practical, determined, struggling, surviving, show bizzy kind. Mine is the day-dreamy, flimsy, drifting, go-with-the-flow-do-it-for-the-love, indie-hippie kind.

It is because our two lives couldn’t have been any more different, too.


Lola Gloria survived a world war and multiple phases of poverty, had six children and put up with arrogant and abusive men, worked since she was a child and became an actress to feed a family of eight.

I, on the other hand, could say I survived my schooling, my anxieties from being too educated and part of a generation with high ideals, unlimited options, and excuses to never settle down. I would say I became a performer because “I love performing.”

I think performing is magical. But what is most magical is how our daily performances can connect the two big ideas such as life and death and make them one and the same.

Albeit not prepared enough to be home for the exact moment of my grandmother’s departure, I was grateful that upon receiving the news and despite being somewhere, I was already set to be on my way back home in a few hours.

I had just finished a successful concert with my boss, National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab and my group, the Ryan Cayabyab Singers, in Davao City the night before. A few months earlier, my plan had been to extend my trip for a week and climb Mount Apo. But having recently become part of a new project, I asked to be rebooked to make it back right away for scheduled daily rehearsals.

Lola Gloria

It was just all right. Imagine, losing the matriarchal pillar of my life, with the public mourning, and me stuck out there sitting on clouds on top of the highest mountain. Not that it mattered much where I found myself at a moment like that. We can’t really plan to be around for everything that happens and for what exactly happens next.

Real life is not a script or a movie. Everything that seems crucial and a matter of importance often turn out to be mere seasonal merits of chance. I am grateful for whatever I am allowed to harvest for my own comfort.


But what has given me the most comfort?

Other than knowing that my grandmother had lived a long and full life, my comfort comes from what she did so well while still in this world. And see it continue. Isn’t that life—and magic?

We are in different journeys and timelines. Our wheels and reels are turning constantly at different speeds and orders. But we’re all equal parts of this wonderful process of creation.

How else do I say goodbye to my Mona Lisa? How else do I let the drama of death and demise resolve and resonate in this ongoing spectacle that we all continue to play out?

Mona Lisa in “Insiang”

I can only uphold what she lived for best, and maybe attempt at exploring further beyond the depths of what her soul had already once, at the height of her youth and passion, caught glimpses of.

Not fame, not money, not the glitter and glamour, but the peace that you hold when you find yourself exactly where you must be in the heart of creation. Not the love that you give only to others, but the love that grows in you and is given by you to you, when you continue creating, playing and ever giving.

Festivities and entertainment will continue steadily on, returning year after year. Philippine cinema, in fact, has now been in full celebration of its centennial year, missed by my Lola Gloria by a few weeks. Stars continue to come and go, as they will for eternity.

As for my dear Mona Lisa, my grandmother, her portrait remains, a lasting half-smile that never fades, always memorable and stunning, always a once-in-a-lifetime performance that is filled with life despite death, beauty despite tragedy, kindness despite cruelty, and love despite loss.

Love, and the legends we are all able to create from it, will live steadily on.

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