The Mother in Mary

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The Diamond Star says about her kids and value formation: "Lagi ko silang sinasabihan tungkol sa importansiya ng pag-aaral at pagiging responsible. Mga lalaki ang anak ko, e. Darating ang araw, magtataguyod sila ng pamilya. Alangan namang, knock-knock-who's-there, the-lights-are-on-but- nobody's-home. Dapat, hindi sila tanga. Guwapo ka nga, wala ka namang utak, wala rin 'yan. Hindi puwede 'yon, hindi ba? So, sana maintindihan nila na 'yong mga oportunidad na meron sila, h


Maricel Soriano, who started working as an actress when she was six years old, has grown up before the public eye.


We adored her as the vivacious kid in John and Marsha (1973), loved her as the chatty teenybopper in Underage (1980),lauded her in her first award-winning portrayal in Saan Darating ang Umaga (1983, FAMAS best supporting actress), and stuck by her as she became one of the country's most important actresses.

We remained fascinated as she tackled mature, significant, and complex characters over the years—Hinugot sa Langit, Separada, Soltera, Abandonada, Mila. And we're only talking drama. Needless to say, she's also heaven's gift to comedy—right up there with [the late] Nida Blanca and Nova Villa.

Now she'll keep us mesmerized as she crosses over to the new world of independent cinema.

So far, she has finished three indie films: Numbalikdiwa (Cinemabuhay), Gawad Kalinga (APT Productions), and Inang Yaya (Unitel Pictures). The last, which showed on November 29, 2006, is actually a collaborative project between Unitel and Maricel's camp—meaning, Maricel herself and her manager, Wyngard Tracy.

In an exclusive and animated interview, Maricel Soriano speaks to YES! about a subject close to her heart—motherhood.

Out of the limelight, Maricel, now 41 and truly grown lovelier with age, is the enigmatic homebody whom friends and colleagues fondly call Mary, Maria, or Inang. Well, so far, Inang has been doing a fine job. Her fine, strapping boys, Marron and Sebastien, whom she has raised almost single-handedly, are her living trophies.

Marron, turning 20 on December 19, has just finished high school at the Oak Ridge Military Academy in Greensboro, North Carolina. He's the reserved type, says his mom: "Man of a few words 'yon."

Sebastien, nicknamed Tien, turning 14 on January 11, is at present in Grade 7 at The Beacon School in Taguig, Metro Manila. He's the gregarious type: "Iyon naman, iinterbyuhin ka. Interesado siya sa life ng mga tao. ‘So, what do you do? Why do you do that?' Ma-why-and-why-not, ganyan. Maano siya, maurirat."

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Maricel admits she has just begun catching up on her boys, who grew up with her mom, Linda Soriano.

"Mommy ko ang nagpalaki sa kanila. Dahil work nga ako nang work. Hindi ako 'yong talagang hands-on noong mga time na 'yon. Ngayon ako humahabol. Past tense na ito, ha? Kumbaga, noon, since hindi nga ako hands-on, pag sinabi ni Mommy na, ‘O, kailangan nila ng ganito, ganyan...' ako naman, bili lang, bayad lang, ayan, atsutsutsu. In short, na-spoiled sila sa mommy ko.

"Noon, mga kaibigan ko, sinasabihan ako na, ‘Naku, Mary, kalalakihan lang naman nila 'yan, ba't kailangang mga branded-branded pa 'yang mga gamit nila?'

"Ang dialogue ko: ‘Alam n'yo, wala silang tatay, okey lang? Kung mabibili 'yang mga tatay image na 'yan sa tindahan, nabili na namin 'yan!' Siguro guilty rin ako noong mga panahon na 'yon. So, dinadaan mo doon sa ibibili mo sila ng magandang mga T-shirt, gamit, mga ganoon."

Now that Maricel is more in control of her life, she's wearing the old-fashioned mommy uniform with a fervor that comes close to being rigid.

"Natapos ako doon sa ganoong sistema na bili-bili," she explains. "Eto na 'yong realidad na, ‘A, gusto mo 'yan, you have to earn it.' Me gifts pag may occasion—Pasko, birthday—pero more than that, you have to work for it. Me gusto kang ganito, ganyan—puwes, tipirin mo allowance mo."

Maricel is really big on discipline.

"Gaya nitong nakaraan. Hindi ko pinayagan si Tien na manood ng wrestling [sa Araneta Coliseum]. Ang kuya lang niya ang nanood. E, kasi, may dapat siyang gawin. For two weeks, hindi niya ginagawa.

"E, it's the hardest job... 'yong pag nagpapa-cute na ang anak mo. ‘Ma, you know naman I love you, e.' Pero hindi, talagang pinanindigan ko. Naku, hindi makahinga si Tien sa kakaiyak...

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"Dapat niyang maintindihan, di ba? Para may sense of responsibility. 'Tsaka, ang bilin ko palagi, regardless if it's wrestling or not, you do not make paalam, as in, now, now na. Ay, cannot be. Gusto ko a day before, two days before, a week before, magsabi ka. Kasi hindi naman bawal, pero nilalagyan mo sila ng ganoong factor, e."

Maricel sees the good results of her firmness on her children.

"Hindi na sila spoiled ngayon. Nage-MRT ang anak ko, nage-LRT, nagbubus, nagdyidyip. 'Tsaka, hindi mo sila nakikita kung saan-saan, di ba? Ay, hindi sila nage-Embassy [a hip bar in Makati]. Hindi puwede. Puwede si Kuya [Marron] minsan, basta kilala ko ang kasama.

"Lagi kong sinasabi, ‘Anak, I trust you. It's the people around you that I don't trust.' E, siyempre, sa tagal ko sa industriya, na-trauma ako sa mga nakikitang nag-iiba ang itsura, ang buhay, dahil sa kung ano-anong alam mo na."

Maricel keeps reminding her sons that whatever material things she gives them now were not easily acquired.

"Lagi ko ngang sinasabi sa kanila 'yong buhay namin noong araw.

"Dumating kami doon sa point sa buhay namin na hindi pa nga kami nagbe-breakfast na magkakapatid, pinu-problema na namin 'yong lunch, at 'tsaka ang tanong, e, kung magdi-dinner pa ba tayo?

"Dumaan ako doon, and I'm proud of that, kasi mas nava-value ko 'yon ngayon.

"Kaya lagi kong sinasabi, ‘O, sa isang pitik, puwede namang sabihing, ‘I want a Gameboy, I want an iPod, I want a cellphone...' Wala naman noong araw 'yan, e. E, ba't naman buhay ako ngayon?"

So far, things have worked out well with Marron. Having studied in a military academy in a foreign land for three years, he has turned out to be a fine gentleman.

"'Tsaka athlete ang anak kong 'yon," Maricel beams. "Nagta-track-and-field siya. Kaya hindi 'yan nagi-smoke. He hates it. He also hates alcohol. Kahit na 'yong Cali-Cali, hindi umiinom 'yan. Wala siyang bisyo.

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"Madalas akong mapagalitan niyan sa pagsisigarilyo ko. Sasabihin niyan, ‘Minsan kaya, Ma, patatakbuhin kita, sabay sindihan mo dalawang sigarilyo.' May position siya noong nag-aaral siya sa Oak Ridge, ganoon daw ang ginawa niya sa isang estudyanteng under niya. Magmula daw noon, hindi na nag-smoke. 'Buti na lang, ako 'yong nanay."

But being young, Marron has his share of shortcomings.

"'Yong age na 'yan, akala mo they're so mature and they know it all. Charing! Kailangan pa ring makulit ang nanay. Kasi pag punctuality at responsibility na 'yong pinag-uusapan...

"‘Hellouer! Kanina pa 'ko dito!' Parang gusto mong tilian ng ganoon. Saka si ano 'yan, ‘E, kasi, I thought...' Naku, 'yang I thought, 'yang mga akala na 'yan, nakakaloka 'yan, 'no!"

Tien is a different case.

"Ang problema ko lang diyan, he prefers na unahin 'yong TV, 'yong Gameboy, 'yong mga nakakalokang 'yan, kesa sa pag-aaral. Hindi naman matigas ang ulo niya, makulit lang."

A few days after the interview, Maricel informs YES! that, in the name of discipline, she has deprived Tien of his right to all his toys and gadgets: "Bawal ang PlayStation, pati cellphone. Lahat, kinonfiscate ko. ‘May time kung kelan mo 'yan gagamitin, kasi hindi ka pa responsible. Pag nakita na ni Mama na responsible ka, I'll think about it.'"

At the time of the YES! interview, however, Tien was still using the oldest trick in the book to win his mother's heart.

"Laging nagsasabi 'yan ng ‘Ma, you look so beautiful,'" Maricel says, mimicking her boy. "Siyempre, nagte-thank-you naman ako muna—dahil may mga nag-advise sa akin na dapat ina-acknowledge mo ang mga ganoon—pero may bubbles sa ulo ko. ‘Nako, ano na naman kaya ang hihingin nito sa akin?' Pero actually, hindi naman sila masyadong palahingi ng Kuya niya."

Though her kids are both boys, Maricel says she has never felt the need for a daughter. Her niece, Kate, the 11-year-old daughter of her eldest sister Bec Bec, already occupies that role. Maricel's fondness for the girl is apparent.

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"Halos sa akin na din lumaki 'yon, kasi inaangkin ko talaga," she laughs. "Si Kate 'yong parang, pagtingin ko sa kanya, nakatingin na rin siya sa akin. Iba rin talaga ang girl, ano? Gumaganyan sila ng hair [mimics head sway], 'tapos parang naka-glue sila sa 'yo pag lumambing na. Sa lalaki, parang alam mo agad ang pantapat mo—discipline. Ibang-iba pag girls. Pag humiling, bend na sila ng ganyan sa 'yo. ‘Di ba, Tita?' Pag ginanoon na ako, wala na, uto-uto na ako."

With her boys, Maricel is firm on another thing—no showbiz for them.

"Gusto ko, mag-aral muna sila. In the future, kung tapos na sila at talagang gusto nilang mag-artista, okey."

Tien has shown an interest in following in his mother's footsteps, but Maricel has studiously chosen not to acknowledge it.

"Ayokong makita 'yong aspect na 'yon, e," she laughs. "Kasi masisira 'yong aral, e. Hindi naman lahat ng tao, may oportunidad na mag-aral. Tama naman 'yong pakiramdam ko doon. Masama ba kung bini-brainwash ko 'yong anak ko na, ‘You know it's not good because you're still studying...'? It's not naman na ayaw ko talaga totally, pero, as of now, ayoko talaga."

Still, genes rule. Having a multi-awarded actress for a mother makes for a talented child. Tien, we gather, excels in the arts—theater arts, in particular.

"Pinagtatawanan nga nila ako," says Maricel, shaking her head. "Kasi, kung ano 'yong ayoko, doon siya magaling. Windang na windang ako—mas malignant 'yon sa naloloka—Sisa na ang labas ko talaga! Sabi ko, ‘Ba't nagkaganoon?' Parang gusto kong sabunutan ang sarili ko. Siyempre, hangga't ako ang nanay, hindi puwede."

Critiquing her son as theater actor, the mother is forced to admit: "Tien is full of passion—intense."

With Marron, Maricel has also experienced the windang factor.

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"Bago ko siya 'pinadala sa States, nag-model 'yong anak ko. Sa school lang naman. Pero galit na galit talaga ako. Parang mawiwindang ako. Ano 'yon, gumaganyan-ganyan siya? Nakakaloka, ha!"

And now that Marron is a young adult, Maricel has something else to worry about—girls.

"Iba-ibang blue eyes na itong mga nakakaano ko," she says of Marron's former girlfriends in the U.S. "Hindi ko na alam kung anong nasyon naman. Noong isang beses, may tumawag, ako nakasagot. Hindi ko naiintindihan.

"Bakit parang sobra naman ang pagka-slang nitong isang ito? ‘Swarzz, swarzz'... ‘What?' Naku, wait lang ang nasabi ko... ‘Wait'... ‘Swarzz... yeah?'... ‘I will tell him you called, okey?'—tonong-Pinoy na parang ako talaga 'yong yaya nila, walang kaano-ano. Baduy, di ba?"

Marron is in the Philippines right now, still trying to decide if he's going to college here or abroad.

"Hindi pa nila alam pareho kung ano gusto nila sa buhay," says Maricel. Then, turning to YES! associate editor Anna Pingol who laughs, she adds, laughing herself: "Bakit, ikaw ba alam mo na gusto mo sa buhay? Lahat naman tayo, up to now, hindi rin natin alam. Pero ang huling sabi niya, engineering daw. Naku, may D-A-W-daw!"

What field of engineering?

"Malaysia!" she exclaims.

What's that? "Malaysia—malay ko!"

This mom has us in stitches—and thinking just then how blessed these boys are to have her.


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