The Early Years
Maria Cecilia Dador Soriano, the Diamond Star of Philippine Showbusiness was born February 25, 1965 and started acting at the tender age of six via the 1971 flick My Heart Belongs to Daddy. She would later venture into television when she got the role of Shirley Purontong in what is considered the most successful and longest sitcom in Philippine Television history John and Marsha.
Under the aegis of the country's King of Comedy, Dolphy and the late Nida Blanca, one of the country's top caliber actresses, both of whom she considered as second parents; she became a well known and talented child star of the 1970's. La Soriano received her first acting award as Best Child Actress at the age of nine at the 9th Manila Film Festival for Virgo Film's Alaala mo, Daigdig ko (Your Memory is My World) , in 1974. She also won the same award at the 1974 Ilo-ilo Film Festival for John and Marsha. Aside from the movies and her regular sitcom, she also appeared as one of the main cast in what is considered the ancestor of our contemporary children shows today, Kaluskus Musmos in 1978.
La Soriano, was launched to full stardom in 1980 via Regal Films' Underage where her thespian talent and charisma shone brightest among the lead stars of the movie. From thereon, there was no stopping Maricel Soriano to superstardom. Her tandem with William Martinez was launched via the movie Oh My Mama in 1981 proved to be the tandem to beat as they churned out multiple box office hits especially in the genre of comedy. She was considered the top Regal Baby in the 80's and 90s'prompting the Regal matriarch, Lily Monteverde to quipped, ‘Regal without Maricel is nothing'.
The Diamond Star's bankability as a lead star has remained firm since the 1980's and there is no sign of waning down unlike most of the members of her generation who have now been relegated to supporting roles or are into semi-retirement mode. Her box office charisma, acknowledged by the millions who watched her films but unheralded by award giving bodies, continues until these very days. Maricel's most recent movie, A Love Story, broke all box office records to date, something all her contemporaries will find very hard to achieve.
Maricel Soriano undoubtedly is the most versatile actress of all time.
The variety of her film output is unmatched in the history of Philippine Cinema. She has the most number of comedy films from John en Marsha in 1973 to I Will Survive in 2004. Her Inday Series (Inday, Inday sa Balitaw, Inday Bote and Super Inday) is a landmark in the comedy arena. Some of her dramatic films are considered classics now most notable of which are Saan Darating ang Umaga in 1983, Kaya Kong Abutin ang Langit in 1984, Hinugot sa Langit in 1985, Babaing Hampaslupa in 1988, Ikaw Pa Lang ang Minahal in 1992, Inagaw Mo Ang Lahat sa Akin in 1995, Abot Kamay ang Pangarap in 1996 (The Philippine entry to the Oscar Awards), Soltera in 1999, Mila in 2001, Filipinas in 2003 and recently, Inang Yaya in 2006. Her action-oriented films with Action superstars are all certified hits starting with the record breaking Batang Quiapo in 1986 until her last in 1998's Sige, Subukan Mo. Whether fantasy (Mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang, etc.), Suspense (Dahas, etc.), Horror (Sa Piling ng Aswang, Vampira, etc.) Romance (When I Fall in Love, etc.), Maricel never fails to deliver with much aplomb and flare seldom seen in the past and present crop of actresses.
The Diamond Star's versatility does not stop in acting alone. Maricel is considered the ‘Dancing Queen' of the 1980's and her signature dance numbers I Am What I Am, Rico Mambo among others have continued to be associated with her even to this very day. While not a professional singer, she even managed to record two songs, the theme song of the movie, Oh my Mama and the gold record hit Ngayon At Habang Panahon. Aside from a sold out concert at the Araneta Coliseum entitled Hello, Hello Maricel in 1987, she has appeared in hit concerts here and abroad in the late 80's and early 90's.
The TV Icon
Aside from successfully conquering the movie scene, La Soriano duplicated her feat on Television with a variety of shows few could match. From the sitcom John and Marsha , she also starred in Kaluskos Musmos and Kuskos Balungos, youth oriented programs in the 70's. to Musical Variety Shows (Maria! Maria! and Maricel Live!) , Drama Anthology (Maricel Drama Special) and Comedy Shows (2+2, Kung Kaya ni Mister., Kaya ni Misis ( If the Husband Can do It, the Wife Can), Mary d' Potter Bida si Mister, Bida si Misis (The Husband and Wife are Lead Characters), Soap Opera (Vietnam Rose) and currently doing John En Shirley (a spin-off of her original sitcom), where she is reunited with her daddy Dolphy together with Susan Roces.
The Diamond Star can be considered foremost a progeny of television and her face has continued to become a staple in the small tube. Even with her short hiatus in making movies, Maricel was consistently seen in the longest running drama anthology which was named after her and the reprisal of the role of Shirley Purontong brings her into full circle as a certified icon in Philippine TV.
She has received two awards from the Asian TV Awards as Best Actress in a Comedy show aside from her two awards for the same category from the Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC). She was also given two awards as Best Actress in a Drama Anthology and Best Actress for Drama in a Soap Opera (Vietnam Rose) also coming from the PMPC.
A sought after celebrity endorser, she has endorsed a wide variety of products and is considered one of the most credible among the elite group of endorsers. She is reported to lend her name only with those products she believes in and uses it as well. Her appeal to consumers help catapult a number of products to gain a sizable share of the market most notably, Green Cross, Whisper, Alaska, Globe, Swift Spaghetti, Loviscol, McDonalds, Jollibee, Mr. Clean, Breeze, Minola, among others.
The Movie Queen
With her movie output already reaching the millennium mark and a range of films unsurpassed by all other actresses, she is one of the few bestowed by filmdom with this title. The Diamond Star has practically worked in all the major film outfits in the industry, appeared with every major star, set acting standards and box office records, she has proven beyond reasonable doubt that she is the Queen to reckon with.
She is the third most awarded film actress of all time with 19 (child, supporting and lead actress) trophies to boost from various legitimate award giving bodies such as FAMAS, PMPC, Enpress, FAP, YCC, Pasado, GMMSFP, MMFF, Manila, Iloilo and Cinemanila Film Festivals. Aside from these, Maricel has received other acting awards from various sources such as fan magazine publishing companies and people's choice awards.
Fresh from the success of her recent movie, Maricel is back with Regal Films as the lead star of Bahay Kubo, a movie intended for the 2006 Metro Manila Film Festival. Her reign as a movie queen shows no sign of letting up and continues to evolve to even greater heights.
The Legacy Continues
With nothing else to prove, the Diamond Star continues to reinvent herself as she is now beyond superstardom and has entered a new phase in her acting career. No longer confined with commercial films, she has given strong support to the Digital Film industry with movies like Numbalikdiwa and Inang Yaya (the highest grossing digifilm by far). Maricel even agreed to star in the Gawad Kalinga film Paraiso without the usual talent fee in support of the house building projects of this organization.
Considered by most as one of the finest actresses Philippine Cinema has ever produced, Maricel Soriano remains the Queen of the Philippine Entertainment Industry and her legacy continues to unfold itself for other aspiring stars to admire and emulate.