Cherie Gil: The well-loved contrabida

The news of Ms. Cherie Gil’s death on August 5 shocked and caught many by surprise. What follows next are the outpouring of love and tribute from friends in and outside of showbiz.
The actress is remembered by many as being a sweet friend and a one-of-a-kind icon despite her villain image in most of her movie and TV projects.

In a lengthy Instagram post, the Megastar Sharon Cuneta calls her “a most important part of my life & my history, of my heart.” She added Cherie to be “my true screen partner, a true friend, ninang of Simone…”

Sharon Cuneta at Cherie Gil’s hospital bedside hours before the acclaimed actress passed away. (Photo posted on Twitter by Sharon Cuneta)

Sharon played the lead role of Dorina Pineda to Cherie’s antagonistic character, Lavinia Arguelles, in the 1985 movie, Bituing Walang Ningning, where the iconic line “trying hard, second-rate copy cat” came to be.

In her post, Cuneta shared a photo of her at the hospital bedside of Cherie during her last moments. She revealed she flew to New York, and she was hanging on to a “sliver of hope” that God would perform a miracle and allow Cherie to pull through.

However, her post also hinted that Cherie has prepared for her passing. “…You told me about your tree to heaven outside of your apartment window which I didn’t get to see.”

Sharon expressed her grief over knowing that she would never see her friend again. “We said “I love you” & I said I’d see you again today… & you raised both arms and gave me the thumbs up with both hands. Then barely eleven hours after I left you, I was awakened by his call saying you had passed…I leave New York now with a much heavier heart than ever before…because now I am leaving YOU with the knowledge that I will NEVER see you again…”

Meanwhile, actress Dina Bonnevie also penned a lengthy message about Cherie and the latter’s impact on her life.

On her Instagram account, Dina wrote, “You were more than a friend to me, you were my sister, my first mentor in singing, you helped me believe in myself, my dreams, my goals.”
Dina also uploaded several photos she took with Cherie back in the day they were filming the movie Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas. She also talked about the countless sleepovers Cherie and Sharon Cuneta had at her house when they were filming the movie together. “Cherie as you know in French, means “dear.” That is what you are to me. I will never forget all the times we slept together (you, Shawie, and I) at my house,” she said.

“We shared so many stories, and insights, analyzed so many matters in our lives together, we even helped one another pick up the pieces of our broken lives then. I remember taking care of Jamie when we were both living in the same condo building and you taking care of me when I was recovering from my broken marriage. You taught me how to let go and be brave to face life’s challenges. We were teachers to one another,” Dina recalled.

Singer-actress Zsa Zsa Padilla also reminisced about the times she worked with Cherie via the movie Ika-13 Kapitulo. She also mentioned the last time they saw each other at Antonio’s Tagaytay. She remembered how “beautiful and vibrant” Cherie was on her golden birthday, and how “wonderful it was to be in [her] company.”

“You danced the tango and I remember thinking, this woman can do anything she puts her heart into! You were always so passionate and full of life! That’s how I will always remember you, Cherie, my Gemini sister! I miss you, my beautiful friend. Until we meet again,” Zsa Zsa wrote.

Multi-awarded actress

Cherie came from the family of premiere actors of the Eigenmans composed of parents Rosemarie Gil and Eddie Mesa and siblings Michael de Mesa and the late Mark Gil. She began her career as a child actress at the age of 9 and thereby earned various roles and awards for his superb performances as a villain, among them: a FAMAS Award and a Hall of Famer at the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) in the Best Supporting Actress category. But she was reportedly happiest for winning  in 2015 the Best Actress trophy at the ASEAN International Film Awards and the Best Lead Actress in a Foreign Language Film at Madrid International Film Festival in the same year.

Cherie took an 11-year break from showbiz in 1994 to focus on her family and made a comeback in the film Sugatang Puso, which earned her the Best Supporting Actress award at the (MMFF). In 2018, she appeared briefly in the film Citizen Jake, for which she got her first Gawad Urian Award.

Showbiz etiquette

During the pandemic, Cherie became an acting mentor, giving online masterclasses for aspiring and experienced actors. Her pieces of advice — in the process — such as “Don’t call me Tita! Pamangkin ba kita?” has eventually came to be part of showbiz etiquette. She has also advised newbies, especially young actors, to observe the Filipino tradition of pagmamano,  an “honoring-gesture” where the greeter bows toward the hand of the elder and presses his forehead on the elder’s hand.

“Hindi pa kita kilala, beso agad?” Cherie exclaimed.

It was only in February 2022 when Cherie bade the Philippines anew to move to New York and be with her kids.

As of press time, Cherie’s son, Raphael Rogoff, has expressed his gratitude to people who extended their sincerest condolences to his family.

In his Instagram post, Rogoff also disclosed that her mother was diagnosed with rare endometrial cancer in October 2021. He added that Cherie requested that her condition be kept private.

“While we are deeply saddened by our loss and still mourning her passing, we are incredibly moved by the outpouring of love and support for her and our family; evidence of just how many lives Cherie touched,” Rogoff said.