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  • Maricel Laxa Recalls Being Introduced As 'Pamangkin' By Her Father To His Other Children

    Maricel's father Tony Ferrer, known as the James Bond of the Philippines, died in 2021.
    by Jocelyn Valle .
Maricel Laxa Recalls Being Introduced As 'Pamangkin' By Her Father To His Other Children
PHOTO BY Instagram/mommymaricel
  • When Maricel Laxa was growing up in the 1970s, she'd hear people telling her mom Imelda Ilanan, an actress during that time, this observation: "Kamukhang-kamukha ni Tony," referring to Maricel's father Tony Ferrer, an action star known as "James Bond of the Philippines."

    The young girl would get confused, wondering to herself, "Sobrang gorgeous ng nanay ko, pero kamukha ko si Tony. Anong itsura ko?" She then thought "ako ang junior n’ya," especially when she eventualy joined showbiz in the 1980s, and her father, a black belt holder, wanted her to take up martial arts.

    But Maricel's memories of Tony in those years were far and between, admitting to Karen Davila in an interview that she didn't really know her father that well. She says in the broadcaster's vlog, "Yes, it was difficult growing up. But my mom made efforts na magkakilala kami."

    Maricel's major pain in the past

    Maricel didn't have her father around her and her mother much of the time as Tony started another family after starring in a movie, released in 1971, with beauty pageant queen Alice Crisostomo, who soon became his wife. Tony and Alice had two children: Mutya and Falcon.

    Looking back, Maricel tells Karen, "I was always made to feel favored, loved, and cared for by my mom. Naramdaman ko rin ’yung gano’n na gano’ng attention, pagmamahal sa side din ng daddy ko, pati sa daddy ko."

    "Pero merong time na kailangan protektahan ng daddy ko ang pamilya n’ya. Pinakilala niya ako na pamangkin n’ya sa mga kapatid ko. It was a major pain I experienced at that time kasi hindi ko siya naintindihan. Pero kinausap ko ang daddy ko. Sabi ko, ‘Bakit kailangan mangyari ’yun?’ Sabi niya, ‘Kasi hindi pa nila maiintindihan.’"

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    She adds, "But I knew I was loved. I knew I was special. But somehow there was a question, ‘Would I be acknowledged?’ Hindi lang siguro tampo ang naramdaman ko. It was something I couldn’t figure out in my heart, in my head. I just grew up trusting na what they think is best."

    Maricel's husband Anthony Pangilinan, who's also part of the interview, chimes in to supply more details. He says of his wife, "I know the time na-realize n’ya ang sama ng loob n’ya…Kasi no’ng mag-asawa na kami. Then we had our kids." The couple have five: Ella, Donny, Hannah, Benjamin, and Solana.

    (In a previous article, Why Donny Pangilinan Lets Mom Handle Most Of His Finances, the popular young actor expresses his full trust on his parents.)

    Anthony recalls that one day, the older kids bugged Maricel with this question: "Why do we go to dad's daddy, but we don’t go to mommy’s daddy?" To which Maricel replied, "If you’re happy just seeing dad’s daddy then just go to dad’s daddy.’" But the kids were insistent, telling their mom, "We want to see your daddy."

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    As far as Anthony's story goes, Maricel said with finality: "Then you can bring daddy and see my daddy." So her husband intervened for their kids, and told her, "Hon, they wanna see their grandfather. And if you will not go with me, I have to take them." Her reply: "You go." So he did.

    That's how their children got to meet their maternal grandfather and eventually started visiting him. After one of those visits, the grandkids shared, in Maricel's words, "ang daming kuwento," so much so that "naiinggit ako." Anthony sensed this when his wife declared, "Tama na nga!" His conclusion: "It was actually the kids who helped" bridge the gap between Maricel and her father Tony.

    Father-daughter reconciliation

    Maricel says in reflection, "During this time na parating may kinukuwento ang mga anak ko, na-realize ko…I think it was a message my mom or my stepfather told me: He loves you in his own way." (Maricel's mom Imelda eventually got married to Ben Avancena, a grandson of President Manuel L. Quezon.)

    She then shares the "miracle" story that happened a few days before her father Tony passed away in January 2021 at the age of 86. She was then working in a TV drama series, and the production on a lock-in taping system. Meaning the cast, staff, and crew were housed on location for a few weeks as part of the COVID-19 protocols for TV and movie productions.

    Maricel remembers getting a call from Tony, asking her to link him up with her pastor. She was hesistant to comply at first, but she eventually gave the number of the pastor who officiated her and her husband's wedding ceremony in 1993.

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    She recounts what happened next: "After 2 days, pinatawag ako ng doktor. ‘Your dad has only 24 hours to live.’ I was in the set, lock-in taping. Sabi ko, ‘I can’t leave.’ At saka paano ako pupunta do’n? In denial ako na mangyayari ’yun.

    "Sabi ng stepfather ko, ‘Maricel, if it happens, ’yung ayaw nating mangyari, at wala ka do’n, you’ll never forgive yourself. Go!’ And then, the whole production already had a car for me. They gave me full support.

    "Dumating ako do’n. Ang mga kapatid ko, ando’n. Tinanong kami ng daddy ko, "May atraso ba ako sa inyo?'" Maricel was with her younger sister Mutya but no longer with Falcon, who had died the previous year. The sisters were with their youngest sibling, Mark, whose mother is Pinky Poblete, who's not from showbiz.

    At this point of Maricel's narration, she becomes tearful. She says, "I have to say that’s one miracle that the Lord provides at that time when you needed it the most. Wala kahit isang bahid na tampo o question in my heart na kailangan naming i-settle at that time.

    "Nagtinginan kaming magkapatid. [We told our dad], 'Kami, wala. Tignan mo kami, maayos kami. Wala, wala kang atraso sa amin.’ [Then he said], ‘Good, okay tayong lahat.’ [We said] Yes, dad."

    "And then Benjamin got on the phone," she adds, referring to her fourth child. "He just serenaded my dad with his favorite songs. After maybe 48 hours, [my dad] passed. All of us were prepared to answer him na wala siyang kailangang dalhin na hinanakit pag umalis siya."

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    When asked if she's forgiven her dad, Maricel turns self-reflective: "The biggest thing that I had to heal from is the fact that why did I have to wait so long to have all those little tampos be erased. It must’ve been really the work of the Lord in me…"

    Anthony gives a definitive answer: "On our 10th  anniversary, napatawad na niya ang tatay niya. [I said] 'Hon, sampung taon na tayong mag-asawa, sampung taon na rin akong tatay mo. Baka puwedeng asawa na lang, hindi na tatay? She said, ‘Okay na.’

    "When she said ‘okay na,’ then I knew I didn’t have to play the role of a father anymore. And I have to say,  'Do not let the pleasant people of your present pay the price of the painful people of our past.'"

    Read also: 4 Simple Ways To Build The Father Daughter Relationships.

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