It was Mowelfund President Boots Anson-Rodrigo who announced the peaceful demise of the veteran and well-respected actress, Mona Lisa, whom she said “died in her sleep today, August 25, at the age of 97.”
Ms. Rodrigo’s full statement read: “Mowelfund announces the demise of its lifetime member, multiawarded actress, Mona Lisa, who died in her sleep today, August 25, at the age of 97.
Viewing starts August 26 at Loyola Memorial Chapels 1 and 2 in Sucat, Paranaque. Interment is on August 30 at 3pm.”
[Mowelfund or the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation is an organization established in 9974 that looks out for the welfare of workers in the film industry.]
Mona Lisa, who was born Gloria Lerma Yatco has been acting since the 1930s, when she was known in her first careen name as Fleur de Lis. She made history by being the first Filipina actress to wear bathing suit in a film. That movie was LVN Pictures’ Giliw Ko (1939), where she co-starred with Fernando Poe, Sr.
She reportedly retired from acting in the ’50s to focus on family life. But the late director Joey Gosingfiao convinced her to resurrect her acting life by giving her a role in the 1974 movie, La Paloma: Ang Kalapating Ligaw.
Two years after, in 1976, she would star in what would be her most remembered role as Toyang, the amorous mother to Lino Brocka’s Insiang (played by Hilda Koronel).
The Gawad Urian Lifetime Achivement awardee hasn’t stopped acting since and some of her unforgettable classics include Hindi Kami Damong Ligaw (1976), Itim (1977); Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak (1978), Atsay (1978), and Cain At Abel (1982).
The movie database site IMDb listed down her last two films as Kiskisan in 2003 and Camiling Story in 2005.
In June 2013, when she was 91, her biography, Mona Lisa: A Portrait (From the Memoirs of a Grandmother), was finally launched at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The book, which reportedly took seven years to put together, was written and published by her granddaughter Celine Beatrice Fabie.
Our heartfelt condolences to the family of the great Mona Lisa.
Life well-lived, Ma’am. Bravo!