Film industry pays tribute to Queen of Visayan Movies Gloria Sevilla

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Gloria Sevilla's sons Jonathan (left) and Juni Ranillio receive from FDCP Chairman Tirso Cruz III (middle) the "Sine Sandaan" award recognizing Sevilla's unparalleled contributions and years of hard work for Philippine cinema.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 11)— Decorated actor Tirso Cruz III, the new chairman of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), led the movie industry in memorializing the legacy of the late Queen of Visayan Movies Gloria Sevilla during a formal tribute called "Daghang Salamat...Tita Glo!" held recently at Teatrino in Greenhills, San Juan City.

Cruz presented to Sevilla's family the FDCP's "Sine Sandaan" trophy in honor of her outstanding contributions to regional and mainstream motion pictures and as part of Philippine cinema's 100th anniversary. It was accepted by Sevilla's US-based sons, Jonathan and Juni Ranillo.

Emceed by TV and radio personality Ali Sotto and directed by Ronaldo Bertubin, the event also featured live performances by Asia's Queen of Songs Pilita Corrales, Bayang Barrios, Thor Dulay, Paolo Santos, Manu Respall and Bo Cerrudo, who also did a virtual duet with Manilyn Reynes.

OPM icon Bayang Barrios performs the theme from Gloria Sevilla's critically-acclaimed film "Gimingaw Ako" at the recent tribute for the Queen of Visayan Movies.

The evening was highlighted by the sharing of fond memories of Sevilla by some of her closest friends and co-workers, from former Secretary Jesus "Jess" Dureza and writer and filmmaker Baby Nebrida, to fellow screen artists Jeffrey Quizon, Maila Gumila, and Manu Respall, the last actor Sevilla worked with in the 2020 Cinemalaya short film "Nang Em."

Sevilla's colleagues at the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), led by its board member Johnny Revilla, also recalled the late actress' passion and dedication in reviewing and classifying films and TV programs aimed at protecting children and preserving Filipino values.

As a board member, Sevilla hardly missed a day's work, according to Revilla, who called her "an institution."

"Tita Glo took her work at the MTRCB very seriously. It's so painful for all us that she's gone," he said.

Dulay, a balladeer and vocal coach who is also an MTRCB board member, revealed that despite her stature as an accomplished actress, Sevilla was actually fun to be with as she enjoyed sharing anecdotes and even green jokes.

"But make no mistake, she's actually strict when it came to reviewing movies and TV shows," said Dulay.

Revilla also revealed that the MTRCB has formally endorsed Sevilla for the highly-coveted National Artist Award for Films for her contributions in the promotion of regional films in the Visayas and Mindanao for decades.

"It's high time that we have a national artist who's a film actress and producer from Cebu," he said.

Nebrida said Sevilla was "very qualified" and "well deserving" of the prestigious award for promoting Visayan cinema and giving "honor to our country."

She pointed out that Sevilla made critically-acclaimed Visayan films that were even shown in international film festivals in the 70s when Filipino movies hardly made it to filmfest circuit abroad.

"Badlis sa Kinabuhi," the 1970 FAMAS Best Picture which gave Sevilla her first FAMAS Best Actress trophy, was screened both at the Berlin and Indonesian International Film Festivals. Another Visayan flick, "Gimingaw Ako," which gave Sevilla her second FAMAS Best Actress plum, was shown at the Moscow International Film Festival.

"Tito Glo is a legend and we all looked up to her," said Nebrida, who was the first scriptwriter of Sevilla's 70s TV sitcom, "Mommy Ko Si Mayor."

"Glo is a star, but she's very humble," said Dureza, a former presidential adviser on the peace process. "Until her final days, she would make a video call every other day and would ask me, 'Kumusta ka, Dong (How are you)?' I will surely miss that."

Ali Sotto said Sevilla stayed unassuming and never demanded special treatment or attention.

"She was a queen but never acted like one," said Sotto. "She never mentioned anything about being the Queen of Visayan Movies. Parang wala lang sa kanya 'yon (It's like it doesn't even matter to her)."

MTRCB board member Johnny Revilla and the night's emcee Ali Sotto pay heartfelt tributes to the late Queen of Visayan Movies Gloria Sevilla at Teatrino.

Three of Sevilla's children were present at the tribute and also honored their late mother who died in her sleep on April 16 in Oakland, California.

Jonathan and Juni Ranillo, both based in California, USA; and actress Suzette Ranillo, who personally took care of their mother for many years in Greenhills, San Juan City.

"With a life lived so well, I am sure my mom has a lot to be grateful for," Suzette told the crowd. "Your presence here tonight, whether it be virtual or physical, is a testament to my mom's great capacity to love and your own love for her."

She also thanked the MTRCB for giving her mother a purpose in life by offering her work she was passionate about.

"In spite of her old age, you allowed her to shine and serve the country and industry she loved," she said. "It may have seemed short, but Mom, you have made many people happy through your love, your craft and your service."

The family and friends of the late Gloria Sevilla honor her legacy at Teatrino on July 30, 2022. From left: Sevilla's daughter Suzette Ranillo, her physician and friend Dr. Eduardo Gatchalian, and son Juni Ranillo, along with other U.S.-based family members, with emcee Ali Sotto (far right).

The event was made possible by several supporters and friends of Sevilla including former San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez, Jerson and Hena Pardillo, Eric Cuevo, Ami Almerol, Dr. Eduardo Gatchalian and the MTRCB.

A separate tribute was also held in Cebu City on July 31 with the program organized by Sevilla's sons, Dandin and Jojo Ranillo.