Aga Muhlach:  ‘Whoever I am, whatever I have is all because of Tita Ethel’

Aga Muhlach paid tribute to his manager of 30-plus years Ethel Ramos, who passed away last 10 September at the age of 87.

Ang pinakaayaw kong gawin sa buhay ko noon ay um-attend ng presscon,” he said in his eulogy. “Si Tita Ethel would always tell me, ‘Ano ka ba, dumating ka pa!Gumagano’n ’yun kasi dumadating ako parang patapos na, or sometimes or most of the time, hindi po ako dumadating.”

(What I most hated then was attending presscons. Tita Ethel would always chide me when I arrived late or didn’t attend at all.)

Muhlach, now 54, admitted that in his early years, he got a bit wayward.

ICE Seguerra.

Bilang binata na nakaramdam ng kasikatan, ako po ay nagrebelde. Akala ko walang katapusan ang pag-aartista hanggang ako’y nawala (As a young man who felt popular, I rebelled. I thought there was no end to acting until I disappeared). Fast-forward to 1990, I made a big decision in my life, I said, ‘Parang hindi ako eto lang.

His father Cheng Muhlach, then involved in movie production, got worried that the young actor’s career was going nowhere. So the elder Muhlach invited Ramos to their family home in New York Street in Cubao district, Quezon City, and they talked about career management.

Muhlach remembered his father telling him, “Aga, eto ang kailangan mo: Ethel Ramos (This is what you need: Ethel Ramos).”

Though “naiinis” with his dad “pag pinapakialaman ako at that time,” the 19-year-old dutiful son asked Ramos for a one-on-one meeting the following day at a restaurant. Ramos agreed on the condition that Muhlach, a known latecomer, would show up at exactly 1 p.m.

“So I made sure dumating ako ng ala-una. Nag-usap kami hanggang gabi (I made sure to come exactly at 1 o’clock. And we talked until the evening).”

Of the many and myriad topics they talked about, Muhlach couldn’t forget Ramos asking him, “Are you ready for the big time?”

Despite his uncertainty, he replied, “Of course.” He was cautioned about the demands of joining the big leagues, but he remained resolute. “Whatever it is, I’m ready for it.”

MARK Bautista.



Thus started Muhlach’s reemergence in showbiz all the way to the top as a movie-TV actor and product endorser. Looking back, he confessed, “Ang hirap ng pag-molde n’ya sa akin kasi matigas ang ulo ko talaga (It was hard for her to mold me because I was hardheaded.) But I had aspirations, and she saw that in me. Minolde n’ya talaga ako. It was so hard. When I saw results, I was seeing results every year. Every year, if I may say, I was getting big and big.”

“We worked hard. She wanted me to save and save and save because ang point n’ya, ‘Aga, one day you’ll get old and you get tired. Pag wala kang pera, you cannot say no to work’ (Without money, you can’t say no to work). So hanggang ngayon naaalala ko ’yun kasi the past years, ’yun na nga, pagod ka na, nakakahindi ka (So until now I remember that because in the past years,  when I got tired, I could say no).”

These days, Muhlach carefully chooses his acting projects, preferring to focus on his quiet family life with wife and fellow actor Charlene Gonzalez with their grown-up kids Atasha and Andres.

Atasha recently joined showbiz after completing her college education in the United Kingdom, while her twin sibling Andres is currently on a break from his studies in Spain. The family of four was in full force at the wake.

Sa lahat ng tulong na naigawa n’ya para sa ’kin, I am forever grateful,” said the actor, who has also built businesses. “Whoever I am, whatever I have — my wife, my kids — is all because of Tita Ethel. That’s true, I worked, I did. But she was my wings talaga… My goodness, so selfless. All she thought was about me. Puro sa akin lang — paano ako sisikat, paano ako yayaman, paano ako titino at paano hahanap ng napakahusay at napakabait na asawa (It was all for me – how I could become famous and well-off, how I could fix my life and find myself a terrific and kind wife).”

Muhlach disclosed Ramos telling him a few years ago that he was ready to go on his own and find a new manager. He said he assured her, “You’ll always be my Nanay. I’ll always be here.”

He just didn’t have the strength to see Ramos seriously ill in her last years.

“My wife would always tell me, ‘Go visit, go visit,’” he said, his voice breaking. “It’s hard for you, guys, to understand what we had for 30-plus years together. When I saw her, one picture, I was… Ano’ng nangyari, di ba (What happened)? I questioned why… Pasensya sa kahinaan ko (Please forgive my weakness).”



Nostalgic eulogies

Aside from Muhlach, fellow actors Lani Mercado and Ina Raymundo also delivered eulogies. Mercado recalled Ramos being instrumental in her career and marriage to actor-turned-senator Bong Revilla. Raymundo reminisced about the brief time she was under Ramos’ management.

Annabelle Rama, for her part, turned nostalgic narrating how she became friends with Ramos in the 1960s so she, then a showbiz starlet, could get close to top matinee idol Eddie Gutierrez, who eventually became her husband and father of her six children, including actors Ruffa Gutierrez and Richard Gutierrez.

Ramos and Rama’s fellow talent manager Girlie Rodis talked about how Ramos helped their organization PAMI or the Professional Artist Managers, Inc. Ramos’ longtime colleagues and friends in the entertainment beat, Ed de Leon and Aster Amoyo, shared their own happy and memorable memories with the “Dean of Entertainment Writers.”

Meanwhile, Ice Seguerra played the guitar and sang “Wind Beneath My Wings” and Mark Bautista did his version of Charlie Chaplin’s signature tune, “Smile.”