FORMER First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Romualdez Marcos just turned 93 over the weekend, and perhaps the best gift she received was witnessing the recent inauguration of her only son Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the new president of the country.
Marcos Jr. is now the 17th President of the Republic of the Philippines and Mrs. Marcos is so blessed and privileged to live this long to see two members of her immediate family sworn in as head of state.
Actress Ruffa Gutierrez also celebrated her 48th birthday very recently and she said that one birthday gift that she will long cherish is the opportunity the bosses of Viva Films gave her to play the iconic Imelda Marcos in Maid in Malacañang, now filming with director Darryl Yap calling the shots.
Gutierrez recalled that she was 18 years old when she first met Mrs. Marcos. “It was during Madame’s birthday at The Manila Hotel and we were asked to dress like her as a sort of tribute to her being a style icon. I remember she was radiant throughout the party and I had the chance to ask for a photo with her. I was starstruck, and I became an instant fan right there and then.”
Gutierrez never imagined that one day, she will get to portray Mrs. Marcos in a movie. “She fascinates me and she continues to do so. I have watched a lot of documentaries about her, I’ve read a lot of articles and books about her…. So when I got a call asking if I’d like to be part of this new movie, of course I said yes immediately.”
For more than a week now, Gutierrez has been channeling Imelda Marcos—she thinks about her, tries to talk and move like Mrs. Marcos, and absorbs everything about her. “It is not easy playing a real person, so I have to give my all in making sure that my performance in the film will give justice to who she is and what she represents.”
The movie will have Cesar Montano, Cristine Reyes, Diego Loyzaga, Ella Cruz joining Gutierrez to play the members of the First Family during their last 72 hours in 1986 before they flew to Hawaii. Giving life to the maids in Malacañang are Elizabeth Oropesa, Karla Estrada and Beverly Salviejo, all known supporters of the Marcos family.
While writing this, we also thought of Tessie Tomas, who gloriously played Imelda Marcos in the 1988 six hour drama A Dangerous Life, written by David Williamson, directed by Robert Markowitz, and shot in the Philippines.
Tomas received a nomination from the 1989 International Emmy Awards in the best supporting actress category for her performance in A Dangerous Life, a first for any Filipino actor. A respected host and an award-winning stand-up comedian, Tomas later on created the character Meldita in her many shows here and abroad.
“I had a wonderful time playing both Mrs. Marcos and Meldita in my career. She is…in a league of her own. I won’t ever get tired of channeling Mrs. Marcos when I am given the chance to create my new scripts for Meldita,” shared Tomas, who incidentally just flew into the country from Isle of Man, where she is based now.
“I will be doing a drama series for Dreamscape and I am very excited about this new project. During the pandemic, I have been quietly praying for opportunities to act again whether on film or TV, and my prayer has been answered. I will be part of Dirty Linen and I have a wonderful, wonderful role in this teleserye!” she gushed.
Tessie Tomas and Ruffa Gutierrez are two women who have gone through the many ups and downs of loving and living, but who continue to inspire many with their talent and grit.