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A NOVITIATE'S STORY
By Jose V. Liza, Jr.
RUSHING footsteps emanated from the corridor. In a moment Gloria Sevilla's eldest daughter Lilibeth entered their bedroom.
"A letter for you, Mommie...guess from whom?" The 13-year-old girl held up the envelop.
Though some steps afar Glo was able to see the postmark of origin of the letter: New Iberia, Louisiana.
"That's from Sister Teresa Suarez from Mt. Carmel Convent."
"Correct," Lilibeth approached her and handed the missive.
Glo smiled as she tore it open. And she read the contents:
I hope you don't mind giving the two other letters to Charito and Miriam. I am not sure of their addresses.
Right now I'm spending a time in one of the congregation's country houses. This is a mission house. I am doing fine. I am always praying for you and your family. I can never forget you in my everyday prayers.
Love in Mary of Carmel,
Sr. Teresa Suarez
I got a news about what happened to Maggie de la Riva. Since I got the news I started praying for her that the Good Lord strengthens her in her everyday life.
After reading it, Glo folded back the letter neatly. She placed it on her lap and sighed deeply. Her eyes went misty in recollection of the past.
She first met her a year ago. TV writer, longtime friend Leleng Isla, during a visit at the Sevilla residence, brought her along with him.
Sister Teresa Suarez then was an up-and-coming starlet who was later made a star in the picture "GAHAMAN" and became popularly knnown as Aida Roxas.
"I found her really beautiful and charming," narrates Glo during our interview, "but pious in manners and aspiration."
In fact Glo asked Aida why she joined the movies when her childhood ambition was to be a nun someday.
"I did it for my mother and my sisters and brothers. I wanted to support them in the best way I can," was her reply to Glo. "And if I'll fail as a movie star, then I will solicit the help of others so that I can fulfill my earnest dream in life."
Since the first meeting Glo and Aida weren't able to see each other again for several months. Though they were both busy in the same world -- flickerville -- they didn't meet even by chance.
Except that afternoon when Aida, together with a certain Mrs. Lim, saw Glo at home for a serious reason.
"My being an actress isn't helping me much after all," confided Aida to her. "I'm decided now on becoming a nun. I have sent my application to a Carmelite convent in America. It was already approved. I received a reply but all I have is P225. It's not even enough to pay for my fare in going there. Please help me, Glo."
Aida cried. Glo understood Aida's plight.
She was deeply touched by Aida's plea. "Go home. Don't worry. I promise you I'll do my best to help you realize that dream of yours."
Immediately after Aida and Mrs. Lim had left theSevilla residence, Glo phoned buxom friend Miriam Jurado. She informed the latter about Aida's situation.
"What do you have in mind?", Miriam asked Glo.
"We'll approach some of our colleagues," Glo replied. "Have you any important appointments today?"
"Then please prepare I'll drop at your place in an hour or so, Okay?"
"Okay. I'll wait for you, Glo."
After an hour Glo and Miriam were together. And they planned what to do the next day.
With Aida, Glo and Miriam started to see their close friends and colleagues.
"They visited Efren Reyes at his Mandaluyong residence. Efren gave some money for Aida.
The three went to Senator Sergio Osmena's office and the scion chipped in P200.
They looked for Susan Roces and she gave P500. Fernando Poe, Jr. also contributed.
Joseph Estrada prepared a P300 check for Aida.
Alberto Alonzo, Charito Solis and many others, including the Philippine Movie Press Club, gave their shares for Aida.
When the crusading pair -- Glo and Miriam -- approached Mr. Joaquin Roces, publisher of the Manila Times, the movie actresses were commended by the latter.
What both of you are doing now for the sake of Aida Roxas will really make you feel good," said Mr. Roces.
After only a few days Aida Roxas had enough cash to pay for her airplane fare to Mount Carmel Convent in New Iberia, Louisiana and for her dowry and other necessities.
Glo gave Aida some travelling dresses.
"You're beautiful, Aida," Glo told Aida while they were at the International airport for an early afternoon departure, "and yet you really chose to be a bride of Christ."
"Why," Aida happily replied, "doesn't God deserves a beautiful bride too?"
"I agree with you, Aida," was all Glo could answer back.
"After six years, God Willing, I'll have my final vows," Aida said. "And I'll take it in Dumaguete City."
"I'll be praying for that blessful event, Aida," Glo smiled. "And I'll endeavor to be present when that time comes."
Today Sister Teresa Suarez is writing regularly to Gloria Sevilla.
- from The Weekly Nation, October 23, 1967.
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