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Aga and Arlene Muhlach: Lessons on sibling love and loyalty

By Rito Asilo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 17:24:00 08/27/2010

Filed Under: Entertainment (general), Celebrities, Family

DO YOU wonder what Aga Muhlach is like behind the cameras? The staunchly private heartthrob turned 41 this month, but his stellar sheen is brighter than ever?he is currently seen on ABS-CBN?s ?M3: Malay Mo Ma-develop? and is wrapping up his movies with Angel Aquino and Regine Velasquez.

And, if you think you already know everything about the country?s premier actor, think again. Our recent chat with his Ate Arlene?a most engaging and candid conversationalist?revealed where his sensitivity comes from.

?Aga was never a party animal?even as a teenager, he didn?t go out a lot. Rather than frequenting the disco, he preferred going to hotel lounges and drink there?which probably helped perpetuate his aura of mystery. He?s not a loner; he accepts his celebrity without much fuss.

?When he and our (half) brother, Anton, went to the States last Christmas, do you know what Aga did the whole time he was there? He watched movies every single day! ?Because that?s something he can?t do here.?

Show biz ?royalty?

Arlene, who is 11 months older than Aga and portrays Bea Alonzo?s surly adoptive mother on ?Magkaribal,? has fond memories of her childhood with her brothers, Aga and Albert. The Muhlachs are Philippine show biz ?royalty,? whose luminaries include ?60s movie queen, Amalia Fuentes, and former child superstar, Nio Muhlach.

She recalls, ?We always thought we?d grow up to become actors (laughs). We?d act out scenes from the musical, ?Grease,? and Aga would play John Travolta, while Ate Liezl (Fuentes? daughter) and I would be Olivia Newton-John and Stockard Channing, respectively. We?d sing and dance to ?You?re the One That I Want,? then I?d play Sandra Dee?pero palagi akong walang partner (laughs)!?

Were they spoiled as kids? Arlene quickly replies, ?No naman. Aga, Albert and I are very close?but Nio and Ate Liezl were part of our childhood barkada. On weekends, we would alternately go to Ate Liezl?s house or Nio?s pad, which was very impressive, because it had a gigantic game room that included a pinball machine?a kid?s paradise! Syempre, mayaman din si Tita Nena (Amalia), so we were envious and very much in awe of all that affluence. I said, ?When I grow up, I want to live like this. If you can have all these things as an actor, count me in!??

Special pact

How close is she to her brothers? She shares, ?There was a time in the ?80s when Tita Nena and her brothers (Cheng and Alex), were fighting?and it was all in the papers! Young as we were, Aga, Albert and I made a special pact that, whatever happened, it wouldn?t happen to us.

?Dapat kalimutan ang pride and just say sorry to each other. And, if one apologizes, the other has to accept it immediately?dapat walang mag-inarte para huwag nang humaba. And, we have been doing that. So, maski meron kaming tampuhan, we make it a point to patch things up right away! Would you believe, the last big fight that I had with Morning (Aga) and Nognog (Albert) was when we were still in our teens??

How does Aga deal with problems? She answers, ?He?s not confrontational; he?d rather talk about the problem after we have cooled down. Albert is the impulsive one. I have the ate instinct?I don?t run away from an argument!?


Was she privy to Aga?s romances before he got married? ?I knew everything,? she laughs. ?I knew whom he was dating. I was a cool ate, and I was close to his girlfriends, because they?d always come to me?to get through to him! Girls were not shy about wanting to meet him.

?When I was cohosting ?GMA Supershow,? I?d always bring home roses and other flowers. Aga and Albert would ask, ?Ate Arlene, can we have your roses???then they?d give them to the beautiful girls in the neighborhood (laughs)! Typical boys!?

During the interview, what touched us was the realization that the threesome really looked after one another. We asked: What?s one thing about Aga that his fans know very little about? Arlene answers, ?What Aga has, he shares with us?he still supports us! You don?t even have to ask. He gave me my house and car!

?That?s one of the things we agreed on when we were young. ?Pag may isang yumaman, patikim ng sarap, ha?? Ganun. Kaya nagtataka ako bakit kuripot ang image n?ya sa show biz. How can that be? My brother gave me everything!?

How is Aga as a dad? Arlene beams, ?He?s very protective. Albert doesn?t have a kid yet, but Aga and Charlene have cute and very witty children (Andres and Atasha), and I have two (Aliyah and Augusto) of my own. I even follow their parenting style? they talk to the twins as if they were their barkada?they don?t lecture or preach.?


Does Aga still ask her for advice? ?Yes. He needs people he can trust. Like, when ?Kailangan Kita,? his movie with Claudine Barretto, came out, I said, ?Morning, ang guapo mo dito! Dapat, ganyan lagi ang ayos mo.? And, when I saw his new commercial, I told him, ?Oops, tabachingching tayo dito?but your hairstyle fits you.??

Arlene shares that their mom, the late Anita Aquino, had a huge influence on their lives. She explains, ?My mother and father (Cheng) separated when we were very young, so we grew up with our mom?although our dad was a good provider.

?Walang marunong magluto sa aming magkakapatid, but my mother was a great cook?kaya tingnan mo, we?re all big (laughs)?including Aga, when he doesn?t watch what he eats.?

Arlene gets teary-eyed as she adds, ?Mom is no longer with us, but we vividly remember everything she had taught us. She always reminded us, ?Kayong magkakapatid, magtulungan kayo. Ayokong may naiiwan at nagmumukhang kawawa. ?Yan ang lagi n?yong isaisip!? That was our mom?and we continue to honor her by taking care of one another!?

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