Maricel Soriano walked triumphantly to a warm welcome from industry people and longtime admirers at the red-carpet premiere of the restored Carlos Siguion-Reyna classic from 1992, Ikaw Pa Lang ang Minahal.
With an impressive 47-year career tucked neatly under her belt, she could have made people wait for her to stage a grand entrance but the seasoned actress wouldn’t have any of that. She arrived on the dot, at half past six, in time for cocktails.
Soriano belongs to an era when punctuality was essential. After all, she has worked with the late National Artist for Film Ishmael Bernal and with iconic stars like Dolphy, Charito Solis and Nida Blanca, to name a few. When you work with such revered artists, you not only arrive on the set on time but also prepared to always deliver a first-rate performance.
Ikaw Pa Lang ang Minahal was filmed 26 years ago. It was the second offering of Reyna Films by the feisty actress-producer Armida Siguion-Reyna. It was based on the Hollywood film The Heiress, which gave Olivia de Havilland the second of her two Best Actress Oscars.
“There were a few adjustments at the start,” recalled the filmmaker when asked how it was working with Soriano. “She was coming from a big studio and Reyna Films was anything but that. She was both cooperative and responsive, and so in time we got along very well.” The result is an almost reverentially remembered performance from Soriano as the jilted heiress Adela. Ikaw Pa Lang ang Minahal is the prototype of a finely crafted, breathtakingly told film with old-school sensibilities. It reminds one of a time when star vehicles were also acting showcases, when big stars like Soriano were also esteemed actors.
Prior to the premiere of the film’s restored version, Soriano seemed like she wasn’t to come out of a prolonged hiatus any time soon. She would do sporadic projects like an episode in Maalaala Mo Kaya, which won her a TV Best Drama Actress award, and then retreat into seclusion again.
Soriano admitted that she has ceased to make plans. “I just live a day at a time. I try to live by faith.”
Once Soriano let go of what’s transpired in her past, things started to look up. “This is how I look at it. When we pray, sometimes the answers don’t come quickly. Just wait, and have faith. And almost always, when things start to unfold, the timing is always impeccable. You’ll be surprised.”
And what could be a more perfect time for a comeback than with many big causes for celebration, signaling that the industry is currently experiencing another Maricel Soriano season.
In May she appears in a special role in My 2 Mommies, a comedy-drama directed by Eric Quizon. Soriano is delirious about working with Quizon, who was her leading man in Regal-produced movies in the 1980s and has directed her on television a number of times. Quizon is one of the sons of the late Comedy King Dolphy, whom Soriano regarded as a second dad.
The ties that bind Quizon and Soriano go a long way back. “Marya [her moniker] is like my sister. My dad treated her as his own daughter. I remember when we were both kids, she’d go to our house and swim. We shared a lot, and we were even neighbors once in Makati. She is family, and she always will be.”
Soriano has also accepted an offer to do a drama series on television. She will be pitting talents with the likes of Eula Valdes, Angel Locsin, Albert Martinez and Tirso Cruz III in a show that will hit the ABS-CBN channel by the third quarter of the year.
“I’m really excited with my renewed passion. It just so happened that things are happening one after the other. I admit that I’m overwhelmed but I continue to take things in stride, always a day at a time,” she said.