Aug 13, 2007

Is all really well between Ali and Angel?

There are celebrities who will do anything for media exposure. Ali Sotto is not one of them.
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An accomplished singer, actress (she was once this close to winning the Urian, but, well, lost the award to the Gina Alajar) and now broadcaster, she earned the respect of her peers and the public on the strength of her talent, hard work and integrity.

In the many, many years she has been around — starting

at 17 when she was still the singer Aloha — we watched her and now listen to her not for some fabricated gimmickry, but because she always delivered good work.

Unfortunately, there are chapters in her life where she — without her wanting to — gets a lion’s share of public attention. One was when actor-son Miko Sotto died on Dec. 29, 2003. Instead of delivering the news, she was the news because everyone wanted to see how she was coping with the tragic death of her son. (Later, she and Gina de Venecia spearheaded the foundation INA — or Inang Naulila sa Anak — and provided comfort to mothers like them who also had to face the untimely death of their children.)

When Angel Locsin made headlines starting about a month or so ago by leaving GMA 7 to transfer to ABS-CBN, media once more started hounding Ali. What does she have to say about Angel’s decision?

They will forever be inextricably linked to each other because Angel was Miko’s girlfriend when he died. Actually, they could have let go of each other and gone on with their lives — separately — but they sought comfort in each other. Ali is also a nurturing person and took it upon herself to look after Angel or at least be there to guide her. Oh, I still remember the battles she faced on behalf of Angel — including a bloody one with the girl’s manager, Becky Aguila, no less.

Then one evening a couple of years ago, I got a call from Ali. She was crying on the phone. Angel had fallen in love and had gone steady with Oyo Sotto.

Ali cried not because she was disappointed and found it in bad taste that Angel ended up with Miko’s first cousin and best friend. To her, it was more of an affirmation that Miko was gone forever and never to come back because the girlfriend had gone ahead with her life — which Ali encouraged. At one point, in fact, Ali advised Angel to stop mentioning Miko’s name in interviews so that she, Angel, could move on.

That call from Angel was truly appreciated by Ali because the girl apparently was giving her importance and respect. Their bond became even stronger after that — with Ali still taking on Angel’s fights. For a time, Ali was also very upset because she was afraid Angel was losing her eyesight (she has problems with one eye). Ali went out of her way to help Angel find the best medical help.

In time, however, they slowly lost touch. Angel had become a big, big star and Ali was happy for her. Ali understood Angel’s situation. “As a star, there will be changes in her life — and I accept that,” Ali told me.

On the eve of All Saints’ Day last year, Ali was pleased that Angel (accompanied by Oyo) had gone to visit Miko’s grave. Then came Christmas and Ali lovingly wrapped a present for Angel, but the gift sat through New Year and even Chinese New Year in Ali’s car. By then, they had lost communication. On board her Double A program on DZBB one day in February, co-host Arnold Clavio called Ali’s attention and pointed to Angel who was passing in front of their booth on her way to a Sis guest stint.

Ali sought Angel out and at last was able to give Angel the gift. Shortly after, Ali received Valentine flowers from Angel. Then came Angel’s birthday and Ali called Angel on the phone, but the girl didn’t pick up.

At the peak of the Angel Locsin brouhaha, everyone was seeking Ali out for comments. But what did she have to say? As she said on Startalk last Saturday, she was as stunned as everyone else about Angel’s decision to leave GMA 7, the network that made Angel the big star that she is today. They had not been in touch for a long time and Ali didn’t know what to say — and didn’t want to say anything.

But everyone waited from Day One for Ali to talk. Startalk viewers and other programs (and I can imagine her radio listeners) were on standby for her statements. Lolit Solis (also Ali’s good friend) and I tried to defer it for the longest time. Ali didn’t need to be dragged into it. For her share of the limelight? Hah! Like I said, she never needed that — not before and not now that she is giving up her career to join diplomat husband Omar Bsaeis in his new posting in Madrid. She was hoping she’d just be left in peace. The last thing she wanted was for people to brand her as “nakikisawsaw”— as we say it in the vernacular.

But such is a public figure’s life. Very late Friday night, she finally gave in — though very reluctantly — to Startalk’s request for an interview. No, there were no harsh words for Angel. Basically, she talked about the status of their relationship — about not knowing where she now stands in the girl’s life. There was pain, but there was no anger because Angel had not really done anything to deliberately hurt her — that much Ali is aware of. I’d like to call that sin of omission.

There is now a development to this: Around lunch last Saturday, Angel texted Ali and made an appointment for them to see each other that night. They did — in Ali’s Bel-Air home — and had a long heart-to-heart talk.

Is everything okay between them now? “You know, I’d be able to accept and forgive Angel for anything because I know,” Ali tells me, “that is what will make Miko happy.”

So all’s well between them now. As always, a mother’s heart — especially a grieving one — wins out in the end.
Butch Francisco
Philippine Star

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