Celebrities remember Mario O’ Hara

Celebrities grieved for award-winning director Mario O’ Hara, remembering his kindness, the lessons they learned from him and most especially, his contributions to the local entertainment industry.

Mario succumbed to leukemia at the San Juan de Dios Hospital on Tuesday, June 26. He was 66.

A director, actor, and a scriptwriter, Mario is known for ground-breaking movies like “Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos,” “Ang Babae sa Breakwater” and “Bulaklak sa City Jail.” He was a screenwriter and actor as well.

Supportive of fellow directors

Cannes Best Director Brillante Mendoza said, “Base sa mga napanuod ko, he’s also a theatre actor, ang pagdidirect nya sa kanyang artista, rehearsed, refined.” Brillante was interviewed during O’Hara’s wake at Saint Mary Ligouri Parish in Magallanes Village on Wednesday night, June 27.

Brillante said that Mario was supportive of his fellow directors, taking time to watch and go to their screenings.

“Noong nanalo ako sa Cannes, sabi niya, ‘Kaya pala nanalo ka kasi napakagaling mo.’ Hearing it from someone na nirerespeto mo, I’m honored,” he said.

In fact, in her blog, writer Jessica Zafra credited Mario for opening the door to Cannes. “In 1976 the film ‘Insiang’ directed by Lino Brocka from a story and screenplay by Mario O’Hara, became the first Filipino film to screen at Cannes. In 2003, after an absence of two decades, Filipino film returned to the Cannes film festival. The movie was ‘Ang Babae Sa Breakwater,’ written and directed by Mario O’Hara,” she wrote.

‘Siya na ang masaktan, huwag lang ikaw’

John Arcilla remembered the times he got to work with Mario in the theatre, saying that he is very easy to get along with because of his kindness and simplicity.

“Ang bilis kapalagayan ng loob si Mario. Napakasimple niyang tao. Mas gusto niyang lumakad kahit sa sumakay.  Sabi ko ‘Bakit ka naglalakad?’ Sabi niya, ‘Eh nag-e-exercise ako.’ Nababaitan ako masyado kay Mario. Kahit nagreklamo na siya, idadaan niya pa sa tawa. Siya na ang masaktan, huwag lang ikaw,” he said.

Many of his friends and family remember Mario as a fun-loving and cheerful person, who loves to give jokes. His nephew, Paolo O’Hara, said that Mario was still very positive even when he was already diagnosed with leukemia.

Mario accepted illness ‘with a smile’

When asked how Mario accepted his illness, Paolo replied, “With a smile.”

Despite his condition, Mario remained positive and maintained his cheerfulness.

“Si Tito Mario, masayahing tao, private. Sa room, tawa kami ng tawa, pero iyakan rin kami, pero tumatawa pa rin kami. Siya yung may sakit, pero siya yung nagpapatawa,” Paolo shared.

Mario is a great friend to many local actors and actresses. Bembol Roco described Mario as “Isang napakahusay at napakabait na kaibigan."

No negative vibes

Bembol said that he will always remember his jokes and his positive outlook in life.

“Wala siyang negatibong ere sa ulo niya, masaya siyang kasama parati. Mga palabiro niyang paraan. Maganda ang pananaw niya sa buhay at masayahing tao,” Bembol said.

Other celebrities also expressed their grief via social networking sites such as Twitter.

Celebs tweet their tributes

Janice de Belen tweeted, “I'm truly sad that my first director whom i love dearly.. mario o hara has passed away.Thank you for all the things you have taught me...”

Ping Medina also posted, “Rest in peace Mario O'Hara. Only met his kind soul once. One of the most important minds in Philippine cinema.”

Singer and actor Marc Abaya also tweeted a message from his film director mom. “Rest in peace Mario O'Hara. From your great admirer, Marilou Diaz Abaya.”

Mario was cremated as per his wish. His ashes are at the Magallanes Memorial Chapel until Friday, June 29.

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