I was in the 7th grade at Maryknoll when mom became widely known by her screen persona, “Aling Idad” – the character she portrayed on one of Philippine television’s longest running soap operas, “Gulong ng Palad.” Everywhere we went between the years 1977 to 1985, people would call out to her “Aling Idad!” Often, they would ask her how Luisa was, share their thoughts on how cute Peping was, or how infuriated they were by Aling Menang or her daughter, Mimi.
Mom had been away from television for a while. Her last show was “Wala Kang Paki” where she played Ronald Remy’s simple-minded and hilarious wife, Inday. I was entering the 7th grade when she was cast as the strong and loving Aling Idad. Anyone who is age 55 and above would surely have sat in front of the television set every Friday evenings at 7:30PM to catch up on the travails of Luisa and Carding. To this day, when people find out who my mom is, they never fail to tell me how ”Gulong ng Palad” was a huge part of their childhood.
During summer breaks, mom would always take me to the Channel 2 studios to watch her tape the following week’s episode. The script would be delivered to our house a few days before taping day. Mom would lock herself in our library at home for a while day so that she could memorize her lines. She always came to the set ready, and it’s lines memorized by heart. Usually, tapings would begin around 10am and wrap up anywhere from 9 to 10PM. It was while waiting for her to finish work that I learned patience. It was also while waiting and watching that I got to know the other cast members very well. Marianne Dela Riva, who played Luisa, was always a sweetheart, and one of the prettiest faces to grace television. The young Ronald Corveau was a talent in commercials who had been discovered by the studio and was tapped to play the role of Carding, Luisa’s love interest. At that the beginning of “Gulong”, Marianne was still dating one of Manila’s top radio DJ’s, and Ronald was just a newbie admiring her beauty from a distance. As the years rolled by, and the story evolved, Marianne and Ronald eventually fell in love and got married in a beautiful and grand wedding ceremony in Sanctuario de San Antonio where mom was one of their godmothers.
In the summer of 1981, my dad died, and mom was beyond devastated. Widowed at 48, her grief consumed her so much such that she refused to return to the show for several months. “Ayoko ng bumalik kasi parang life imitates art. Tignan mo, na biuda si Idad, na biuda rin ako,” (I refuse to return to that show because look, life imitates art! Idad became a very idol, and look at me, I’m now a widow too!) she would often tell me in the early months after dad’s death. She was adamant in her refusal to return to the show. I know now that her irrational belief at that time was her grief talking. It took several months until her two very good friends from the show, Director Marcia’s Sanson, and scriptwriter Loida Virina, could convince her to return. It’s a blur to me now, but I believe it took her almost a full year before she finally stepped back into the studios. In the story, Aling Idad had been sent off on a long vacation until she was ready to return home.
For many years, until the show wrapped up in 1985, “Gulong” was indeed home for mom. Marianne, until she moved to the US was a lifelong friend, and Direk Marcial and Tita Loy (scriptwriter, Loida Virina) were her dearest friends until they took their last breath. Romnick, no matter how old he became, was always her Peping.
Aling Idad cemented the “nanay ng bayan” image for mom. Many times in the past I had been asked if she was anything like the character she played for many years. Yes, she was a lot like Idad – hard working, fierce, and always loving to a fault.