Suzette Ranillo remembers mom Gloria Sevilla

In her lifetime known as the Queen of Visayas Movies, Gloria Sevilla received acclaim for her performances in Badlis Sa Kinabuhi (1969) and Gimingaw Ako (1973), for which she received the FAMAS awards. Gawad Urian honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and The EDDYs with an Icon Award.

However as much as she was an outstanding actress, she was equally a model wife and mother. Gloria was first married to Mat Ranillo Jr., who was a lawyer at the Bureau of Customs. He died in a plane crash in 1969 when he was only 39 and she was in her mid-30s. Her second husband was actor and director Amado Cortez who became a Philippine Consul General in the Northern Americas and the Pacific.

She was the mother of actresses Suzette Ranillo and Lilibeth Ranillo, actor Mat Ranillo III, and singer-composer Dandin Ranillo. She and Amado had a daughter.

According to daughter Suzette, whom the Daily Tribune interviewed through email, her mom loved “both our fathers. She was a very loving and very supportive wife. She made sure that her husbands were happy. She gave her all-out support to their careers.

Suzette Ranillo, daughter of Gloria Sevilla.

“She made sure that when our father Mat Jr. came home from work, we were all showered up, clean as a whistle, and dinner was already prepared so that he would enjoyably sit and have dinner together.

“When our stepfather worked as a diplomat, she would visit the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco very often and mingled with every Filipino, making sure that they were well attended to while our stepdad was busy with other matters. She joined Filipino gatherings almost every weekend with our stepdad. She would sing for her kababayan and laugh with them. She also participated in many medical missions organized by the consulate.”

Gloria was active as a Board member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board. “She was reviewing online even two days before she passed on a few months ago in Oakland, California,” Suzette shared. “She was a good, hardworking reviewer and classifier. She was strict because she said our society had become, in a way, promiscuous.”

Gloria died at the age of 90 in Oakland, California.

Not all glamor

Daily Tribune (DT): How was it when you were growing up? How did your mom divide her time between home and her showbiz career?
Suzette Ranillo (SR): Mom was busy shooting or filming almost every day. And she had a daily show, too. To me, everything was normal. We were born and raised with that kind of schedule. Even if mom was not at home, we would watch her on TV so it’s like seeing her as well.  But Sunday was family day. We dressed up to go to church either at Sto. Domingo or Santuario de San Jose, then have lunch out. After lunch, we dressed down to play. On Holy Week, we would go to Baguio or visit Cebu, mom’s birthplace, or Dipolog where the Ranillos are from.

DT: How was she as a mother? More of a disciplinarian or a spoiler?
SR: Mom was a disciplinarian. Just like her mother who was a teacher. She made sure that we had time to play and study. If she wasn’t around our aunt Bernadette was in charge. We had a daily routine. After lunch on weekdays was always siesta time during vacation. Then merienda. Then playtime. Sleeping time was 9 p.m. If you got into a fight with a sibling, we got timed out big time. It meant kneeling in front of the altar and saying, “I’m sorry, Jesus,” repeatedly for five minutes or even longer, and sometimes with arms stretched!

DT: What did she tell you about her being an actress?
SR: She was a disciplined, professional actress. She loved her craft very much. She told me that if I really wanted to be an actress, I must be good at it. To be natural rather than act, to learn not to act, and to respect the craft because it is not an easy profession. She said it was not all glamor but more hard work. She said to be friendly and grateful to the public including the media because they are your audience. Respect your co-actors, listen closely to your directors, read and memorize your script, and be on time for work.

Different styles

DT: How did she support you in your acting career? Did she easily approve your joining showbiz?
SR: She was my mentor. She taught me how to act using my eyes. She didn’t expect me to be interested in acting because I was timid and dark and like any normal kid, I just wanted to play. She actually wanted my sister to take on a role in one of the movies she produced, but my sister was not interested. Feeling sorry for her, I offered to do it instead just to please her. The rest is history.

DT: What values and points of view did you share? Where did you differ?
SR: We agreed on loving and respecting oneself and others. And, of course, loving God. We differed in style of fixing the house, and in our hobbies. I’m athletic, she was not. I love the beach, she liked being indoors. She was very particular in taking care of her skin.

DT: What was her advice to you about love?
SR: To choose carefully the right person to be with. She and my ninang, Charito Solis, advised me that if you are not 101 percent sure that you want to marry the man, don’t. Because marriage is a lifetime commitment. And to secure yourself without depending on anyone, and so, I’m still and happily single.

DT: Of the values she shared with, what are you most grateful for?
SR: Learning from her the true meaning of compassion, understanding, sacrificing, and practicing unconditional love. She taught me to find strength in God especially at my weakest point.

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