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Tributes Pour In For The One And Only "La Primera Contravida" Cherie Gil

"The industry has lost one of the very best actors it has ever produced. I have lost a part of myself no one can ever replace," says Cherie Gil's "Bituing Walang Ningning" co-star Sharon Cuneta

The Philippine entertainment industry just lost another icon. Veteran actress Cherie Gil passed away at the age of 59 on August 5, as shared by Annabelle Rama and later confirmed by Cherie's nephew, Sid Lucero, on Instagram. 

The cause of Cherie Gil's death hasn't been revealed yet. But in a Facebook post back in July 11, she shared that she had been receiving treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering, a cancer treatment and research institution in New York City. 

Cherie moved from the Philippines to New York this year to be with her kids. 

Cherie Gil is known as local showbiz's "La Primera Contravida," because of her memorable and iconic villain roles. Her career as an actress started in the 1970s, taking off in 1979 when she was given the title role in the movie Problem Child at the age of 15. 

Cherie's acting career continued to soar with her portrayals in films Oro, Plata, Mata (1982) and Bituing Walang Ningning (1985). The latter catapulted her into iconic kontrabida status as Lavinia Arguelles because of her famous "splashing water" scene with Sharon Cuneta and the line "You're nothing but a second-rate, trying hard copycat!" 

After doing many TV series and films thereafter—including Mars Ravelo's Darna: Ang Pagbabalik where she played the role of Valentine, the daughter of the iconic supervillain Valentina (portrayed by Pilita Corrales)—Cherie went on a showbiz hiatus in 1994. She resumed her career in 2000 with films Ika-13 KapituloSugatang Puso, and the series May Bukas Pa (with Dina Bonnevie and Albert Martinez). 

Her work with ABS-CBN includes teleseryes like Sa Puso Ko Iingatan KitaBituinMarinaKatorseRubi, and Dolce Amore. On the big screen, she was also a cast member of A Moment in TimePara Sa Hopeless RomanticKasalJust a Stranger, and Unforgettable. Cherie also starred in the 2013 indie movie Sonata for which she won the Best Actress award at The ASEAN Film Festival, and the 2015 movie Mana, which earned her the Best Actress award at the Madrid International Film Festival.

Cherie is likewise a theater actress (she starred in "Full Gallop," a play based on the life of Diana Vreeland) and an acting mentor who started an online "Cherie Gil Masterclass" in 2020. 

Cherie Gil in her Metro.Style "Ageless Beauty" cover feature in 2018.
Cherie Gil in her Metro.Style "Ageless Beauty" cover feature in 2018. | Photo by Sara Black

In 2018, Cherie graced the cover of Metro.Style for an "Ageless Beauty" campaign. In her interview, she talked about aging gracefully and when she felt most beautiful: "Even if you do age as you increase in number, then it’d be nice to go on feeling that joie de vivre...  I feel most beautiful when I’m with my family. I’m always happy with them. Because of the happiness I feel within, I guess, I sparkle. That’s when my natural glow comes out."

Cherie also inspired with her go-getting personality and mantra to live life to the fullest, saying, "I can’t stay put. I wanna rush to the gym when I can, when I’m free. I swim, I do a lot of swimming, and I did a lot of gym work in the past. I’ve tried TRX. I took up dancing lessons—anything physical. I also did running for a while until I hurt my knee and had to undergo meniscus tear surgery. I even did horseback riding, surfing—the individual sports. I also bike, I have a bamboo bike. I’m a restless human being."

Tributes poured in from her loved ones and industry friends, to honor the one and only Cherie Gil and remember the fondest memories they shared with her:

Andi Eigenmann


Gabbi Garcia


Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan


Kyline Alcantara


Mark Nicdao

Lead photo by Sara Black from Metro.Style archive