Marielle: I won't turn my back on singing again
Posted: 8:55 PM (Manila Time) | Oct. 30, 2003
By Remy Umerez, Contributor
Inquirer News Service
The best thing
REMEMBER Lilet, the young and very pretty girl whose softdrink TV commercial was released worldwide in the '80s?
That girl vowed never to sing again.
Indeed, Lilet never sang again. But Marielle is singing.
Marielle, now in her 20s, is the former Lilet. And she realized that singing was the one thing she loved doing most.
"The idea of doing what you love most is the best thing in the world," says Marielle. "For me, singing is the best thing (in the world). And all the time I was away from show biz, I never missed a day without singing a tune or trying to play one on my piano."
As Lilet in the late '80s, she was chosen to be one of the children in the Coca-Cola multi-cultural commercial that tried to recreate the theme of universal harmony. The shoot was done in Liverpool, England, and the commercial featured about 100 children from all over the world. But it was Lilet who stepped out of a huge hall in the beginning of the commercial and sang: "I am the future of our world/ I am the hope of my nation/ I am tomorrow's people/ I am the new inspiration!"
Veteran advertising man Gryk Ortaleza, a friend of the family, had sent a demo tape of Lilet to the advertising agency handling Coke. He also gave Lilet her break in recording.
"I have very little memory of that beautiful singing chapter in my life because I was only a kid and singing was the only thing that mattered (to me)," Marielle says in Taglish. "I was told that people doubted if I was really the one who sang the jingle."
"For the commercial shoot, I was surrounded by many children representing different countries," she recalls. "We stayed in Liverpool for about two weeks. Inosente pa ako noon and I don't know kung ano ang tinatawag na discrimination. Mababait naman sila sa akin.
"Years later, when I was in Japan, I met one of the boys in the commercial. I forgot his name already but he became a big star in Japan."
Marielle -- real name, Maria Luz Lilet Jodloman -- is the youngest of seven children. Her father was an illustrator. Her mother, the former Lily Navarro, was her manager. At that time, a talent manager was a new concept in local show biz.
"I was discovered in a singing contest sponsored by Trebel when I was 11," Marielle recalls. "I also joined a singing contest conducted by Yamaha. I was not after the prize. Ang habol ko lang talaga kumanta. In our family, my older sister had a band called Music Kinesis. That was way back in 1983, and they always toured."
"When I was three years old, I was fond of memorizing songs even if my folks teased me na masama raw ang tono ko (that I couldn't carry a tune). I kept on practicing until it improved."
But she became a recording artist with Viva Records where she made two albums, and later on with Alpha Records. It was also under Viva that she became an a movie star.
"There was 'Pik Pak Boom' with Lea Salonga and Herbert Bautista,'" she says. "I played a doll-a talking doll. My mother and Lea's mom became close.
"In 'Dear Diary' I was a naughty fairy sent back to earth to learn a lesson. In 'Estudyante Blues,' I was one of the students who loved to sing. If not for the endless wait (on the set), I really enjoyed making movies. What was difficult was being a student off and on. I finished high school at St. Joseph's this way because of my erratic schedule."
Industry insiders perceived Marielle's mother as a very protective mom. The daughter herself admits that this had been the case.
"That's true," she says, "and I really don't know why she was so strict. Kaya nga sila magkasundo ng mother ni Lea. Ang kanyang policy is 'Filipino custom, no touch. I was not supposed to have a love team in my movies. That's probably why Viva did not renew my contract. There were so many limitations imposed and they had difficulty packaging me. They just let me go."
A normal life
Her mother's strictness extended even to her personal life.
"Do you know that during my prom night, I was also chaperoned by my mom? When I turned 18, a simple celebration was held on 'That's Entertainment' of Kuya Germs. I belonged to the Wednesday group together with Sheryl Cruz, Rachel Alejandro and Jamie Rivera. My first dance? I don't recall having done that in my debut."
She quit making movies, thinking she could devote all her time to her college studies. She also vowed never to sing in public again, not even during school functions. "Napagod na rin siguro ako ," she says. "I just wanted to live a normal life."
But she found herself vacationing in Japan with her sister, who had married a Japanese. She liked Japan's culture, lifestyle and environment so much that she decided to stay in the country for two and a half years.
"For the first time I felt relaxed and free to do whatever I want to do," says Marielle. "But I didn't really feel totally liberated because all the good values were instilled in my mind. But I no longer felt suffocated, and no one was scrutinizing every single move I made."
Marielle learned to speak Nihongo fluently. She also found herself a Japanese boyfriend, "but the relationship didn't work. There's a big difference in culture, and it was also hard to maintain a long distance relationship. It's different if you're together rather than just talking on the phone even for two hours."
But her first boyfriend was a Filipino.
"We were barkada until our friendship developed into love. I am sure he has a family of his own now and it is best to leave it at that."
The first thing she did when she returned home was to enroll at St. Joseph's College and finish her degree in Mass Communications. She also took a part time job at Hotel Inter-Continental as a Japanese interpreter. After graduating, she worked the 9-to-5 shift at E-Telecare International.
Marielle also toyed with the idea of auditioning for "Miss Saigon," but she backed out "because it would require a kissing scene. My mom would be the first one to object."
For her show biz comeback, Marielle is being managed by veteran talent manager Ronnie Henares of Primeline. She has signed up with Ivory Records and has released a self-titled album. Its carrier single is "Inside a Dream, Di Ako Nag-iisa," a haunting ballad. In tracks like "Pwede Ba Kaya" and "I Love the Way," Marielle goes pop. She also does Tracie Spencer's "Because of You" and a sparingly acoustic version of Michael Ruff's "More Than You'll Ever Know" and John Lennon's "Imagine."
Marielle also debuts as composer with the songs "May Pagtingin Pa Rin" and "Paglisan Mo."
"In these songs I combined the feeling of sadness and loss after love had vanished from my heart," she admits.
Why the change of name?
"I've grown up and I've matured," she says. "They say it's a childish name. Marielle better reflects my personality now. I am in control of myself. Singing is an unfinished commitment. I will not turn my back on it anymore."