Sunday, February 17, 2008

Pilar Pilapil

She made everyone notice her when she was crowned beauty queen when she was only in her teens. When she became an actress and later got romantically involved with actors the like of the late Fernando Poe Jr. and Dolphy, Pilar Pilapil drew public awareness even more, intriguing people not only with her classic beauty, intelligence and wit but with her daringness and liberated attitude as well.

She first got involved with FPJ after he directed her in a movie which co-starred Pilar with FPJ’s brother Andy Poe (and co-starring with him in "Ang Alamat"), but although she confessed to have had a deep love for FPJ, their relationship did not develop into a long-term affair. They remained good friends, however. As every one in showbiz knew, it was with Dolphy whom Pilar had her first serious romantic involvement. They co-starred in "El Pinoy Matador" and "Up, Up and Away," a blockbuster movie filmed in Europe and the US.

Pilar was accompanied by her mother who guarded her like a hawk during the shooting, and this made Dolphy so frustrated, he even broke the window of a restaurant in Paris. Once back in Manila, Pilar’s mom reported to her husband, their daughter’s relationship with Dolphy. Her father urged her to forget him. Pilar pleaded with her father, telling him she loved Dolphy for being so considerate, gentle and kind, but her pleas fell into deaf ears, her father insisting that he knew more about the ways of the world and the ways of men that she did.

What’s still talked about in showbiz is that Dolphy really wanted to marry and have children with her, but it wasn’t meant to be. Instead, it was with the late former vice president of the land, Salvador "Doy" Laurel that Pilar chose to have a child with. Their daughter Pia Pilapil has given them three grandchildren.

When she wasn’t active in the movies anymore, Pilar semi-retired from public consciousness, emerging only when she threw her hat into the political arena. She ran for senator in the last election. Unfortunately, she lost.

And now, Pilar Pilapil is in the limelight once more as she turns author, writing her own life story in the book "The Woman Without a Face," which had its formal launch at the Teatrino in Greenhills a few days ago.

The book encapsulates Pilar’s colorful life story.

Pilar is one of the most beautiful faces in local showbiz. But why is her autobiography entitled "The Woman Without a Face?"

Pilar explained: "I’ve had many experiences in my life that made me faceless, or, as they say in Tagalog, yung wala na akong mukhang ihaharap." The book, she added, is dedicated to young women just starting their lives, so they can learn from what she’s been through.

The book, which traces Pilar’s life from her childhood in Lilo-an, Cebu to her teenage years, when she joined the 1967 Bb. Pilipinas contest, to her years as an actress, her colorful and controversial relationships, and finally, finding true peace and contentment in Jesus Christ, is now available at all National Bookstore, Powerbooks outlets and other bookstores nationwide.

The story is rich with details that readers would expect to find, although Pilar said she did not do it just for the sake of satisfying’s people’s curiosity. "I only put in the most important details that people can learn from. There is a reason for every chapter."

As for the men in her life, Pilar said that they have nothing to fear, since "I didn’t write about them - I wrote about me. I didn’t say anything negative about them (in the book)."

At its most basic, the story of "The Woman Without a Face" is one of "stardom, sin and salvation," told in Pilar’s own words. It is not just a tell-all memoir, but more important, it is a story of redemption.

As Pilar wrote: "The main difference in my life now is contentment. God’s grace freed me from bitterness, anxiety and the desire to please everyone. From a life of discontentment - of restlessness, depression, impulsiveness and anger - I have found peace. Now, I depend on God for His guidance and love. He is now my Boss; and I am learning how He wants me to live."

One of the more interesting stories in the book is the story of how Pilar was led by God to her current husband, Christian pastor Bernie PeƱas whom she married in 2002. Pilar also talked about her failed attempt in the senatorial race, her ministry work in Cebu and Manila, and other vignettes from her life.

Interwoven with the text are rare, never-before-published photographs from Pilar’s personal collection. This makes the book a truly rare treat for its readers. In fact, the latest reports indicate that the book was nearly sold out a mere two weeks after going on sale in bookstores.

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