Vilma Santos, Cesar Montano pay tribute to Marilou Diaz-Abaya
MANILA, Philippines—On the second day Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s wake at the chapel in Gonzaga Building in Ateneo de Manila University-Loyola Heights, two of the major figures in local showbiz told the Inquirer how they remembered their influential director and friend.
Batangas Governor Vilma Santos, who was directed by Diaz-Abaya in one of her landmark films, said, “Direk Marilou was like a mother to me, especially on the set of ‘Baby Tsina.’ I remember that she would always bring for the cast members pandesal and Spanish sardines, which we ate before shooting.
“I love her and her husband, Direk Manolo, who I always requested to be my cinematographer in all of my Eskinol commercials before.
“The last time I saw Direk Marilou was at the wake of actor Johnny Delgado. She was already sick then. She was a fighter. She told me, “kaya ko ‘to! I pray for her family and for the eternal repose of her soul.”
Cesar Montano, who was lead star in Diaz-Abaya’s best works in her later years said, “This is a very, very sad day for us and the movie industry.”
“We lost not only a dear friend and family but also a rare gem in the industry. Direk Malou fought the good fight. She will always be remembered for all her contributions in the industry, and the excellence by she rendered in all those. She will always be an inspiration.”
Montao was first known as a macho star (“Machete”) before he dabbled into action films and into playing colourful characters from the 1990s to 2000 until Diaz-Abaya gave him landmark roles that many viewed as life-changing.
One was Jose Rizal in the same-titled opus of Diaz-Abaya. Another was Fredo, the ruthless leader of reef diving young fishermen in “Muro-Ami.” He also played a Muslim doctor in “Bagong Buwan (New Moon),” a film about displaced families in war-torn Mindanao.
Diaz-Abaya’s wake at the Ateneo Chapel is until Friday, according to son Marc. She will be buried on Saturday at the Loyola Memorial in Parañaque City.