A Woman on Her Own: An Interview with Cherie Gil

By Mitzi Manzano

Philippine award-winning actress of tv, film and stage, Cherie Gil, was born as Evangeline Rose G. Eigenmann. The variety and charm of her Filipino, Spanish, and Swiss-German lineage rendered her a striking personality and features that are interesting to get acquainted with.

For Cherie, entertainment is the family business. She is the daughter of two well-known Filipino actors. Her father, Eddie Mesa, was famous for being the Elvis Presley of the Philippines in the 1960s. Her mother is Rosemarie Gil, Philippine sweetheart of the same generation. Cherie grew up around the entertainment industry since two of her siblings were also fellow actors.

Cherie has three children, Jay, Bianca and Raphael. All three live in New York where Jay works as a sound engineer. Both Bianca & Raphael are students in NYU. Bianca is a musical theatre major and Raphael is specializing in global liberal arts.When she speaks of her kids, you sense right away, they truly are her pride and joy. Her kids are so good looking, there are rumbles about them possibly entering the Philippine entertainment scene one day.

Cherie is well known for playing character roles of strong women who havelarger- than- life personalities. She appeared in a production of Master Class, as Maria Callas,  a well known opera singer, whose true notoriety was born of a love affair with Greek shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis,  before and allegedly during his marriage to Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of the late US President John F. Kennedy, Jr.  In the stage production, Full Gallop, she portrayed Diana Vreeland, iconic doyenne of fashion who precededAnna Wintour, as editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine. 

We had the opportunity to catch up with Cherie during her recent visit to San Francisco, California, where she spent the Christmas Holidays with her parents.

INTERVIEW

Pump: You have played both roles in separate stage productions.Who do you relate to more, Maria Callas or Diana Vreeland?

Cherie Gil: Both had very strong personalities. Diana Vreeland helped make Vogue magazine what it is today. She was very married to fashion sometimes maybe more than she was to her husband, who remained devoted to her all her life. Maria Callas was more inspiring to me. She was romantic, emotional. Her life had a lot of trials and tribulations but this did not stop her. I draw from my own desires and fantasies and feel grateful for the opportunity to play the roles of strong women who lived their lives grandly and unapologetically.

Pump: Your marriage ended nine years ago. Have you been dating anyone? What qualities are you looking for in a man?

Cherie Gil: No, not really. I have been so busy with my career. I spend most of my free time with friends, family and co-workers. I don't know if I can find the man I would be happy with in Manila. Most of the good ones are already married or gay. I have lived abroad for a long time. This has changed me a lot and so my compatible mate doesn't necessarily fit into typical Filipino society. Men from my generation are much more conservative , where the man rules the roost and women are not given the independence that I need. I am a woman on her own.

 I would like a man with common interests and shared goals. Someone who will not try to mold me into something I am not. I want a man with simple ways, make me laugh, have fun, go on adventures, travel, loves to read, watch films and plays and WANTS to get to the theatre on time. I want someone who loves food and can COOK. I can't cook but I have other talents that I am good at. (LAUGHS)

Pump: What are your plans for Cherie Gil 2.0 reinvented?

Cherie Gil: (Throaty laugh) I want to do something meaningful in my personal life. Today’s photo shoot with Pump Magazineand videotaping aninterview with my father has inspired me to keep going forward. I would like to start singing again. I started my career in show business as a singer but somehow acting really drew me in. I would like to start producing my own projects. My big project this year is producing a major tribute being held for my father, Eddie Mesa, an icon in Philippine entertainment. It will be held in the Philippines later this year. This tribute means so much to the whole Eigenmann family , with all of us involved. 

Pump: You have lived all over the world. What is your happy place? Where would you like to live, given a choice?

Cherie Gil: Myhappy place is Bukidnon, located in the Northern Mindanao region of the Philippines. My cousin has a farm there. I want my own farm where I can raise horses, free range chickens and organic vegetables. I wouldn't mind retiring there, living the simple life. I also am a beach girl at heart. 

      I wouldn't mind returning to live in Italy once more. I used to live in Venice when I was married and raising my kids. I would like to experience living in Florence or Rome as a single woman.

Amanda Fischer