Nine days ago, our beloved 77-year-old sister-in-law Ma. Azucena Vera-Perez Maceda, wife of the late Senate President Ernesto Maceda and eldest sister of our wife former Congresswoman Gina de Venecia, succumbed after battling heart and kidney ailments for several months.
She was the eldest among seven Vera-Perez siblings, whose family owned the famed Sampaguita Pictures, a pioneer in the Philippine movie industry. Their grandfather was the renowned Senator Jose O. Vera, who also served as governor of Albay, which then included the now Catanduanes province.
Marichu or “Manay Ichu,” as she was affectionately called by family and friends, was until her final days an untiring advocate of the advancement of the film industry.
She helped establish the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP), Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), Movie Workers Welfare Foundation (Mowelfund), Experimental Cinema of the Philippines (ECP), and Philippine Motion Pictures Producers Association (PMPPA), which are now the backbones of the country’s movie industry.
Marichu was intelligent, articulate, lovely, nurturing, and kindhearted. She spent her personal money, and encouraged her children, according to Manila Congressman Edward Maceda and her four other distinguished sons, to help people in need especially those from the movie industry. She was generous too with her time, expertise and wisdom.
When we ran for president in 1998 against then Vice President Joseph Estrada and eight capable and distinguished others, Marichu was one of our indefatigable campaigners. We knew how emotionally difficult it was for her then as she and Erap both belong to the film industry and have been very good friends long before this columnist even met and married her younger sister Gina. President Estrada and we have remained friends up to this day.
In December last year, she came to our home to personally bring her Christmas and our birthday presents, a collection of some 1,000 movies, which includes our all-time favorites, particularly the classics and biographical films.
We were later told by our assistant that although Marichu was already sickly then, she meticulously chose the movies to be included in the collection and made sure that it was done thoroughly.
The movie collection she so thoughtfully gifted us with has been a treasure, delight and respite for us who have been stuck at home since the onslaught of the Coronavirus in our country, considering that we are now almost 84.
We, together with our wife Gina and son Pangasinan Congressman Christopher de Venecia, will miss you, dear Marichu, mother to her accomplished sons and mover of many successful Filipino movies in our country.