'Kontrabida' Bella Flores suffering from Alzheimer's

by Miguel Dumaual, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Feb 05 2013 10:52 PM | Updated as of Feb 06 2013 06:52 AM

MANILA -- The daughter of Bella Flores turned emotional from the outpouring of support from friends and colleagues of the veteran actress as she recovers from an ailing health condition.



Ruby Arcilla, the only daughter of the 84-year-old Flores, said her mother is no longer able to walk after a recent hip surgery.

The infamous "kontrabida" is also suffering from complications of diabetes, and is showing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

"I'm very sad to see her like this. Alam niyo naman siya -- mahilig sumayaw, mahilig tumawa, mahilig kumain, and now, those are all gone. I'm very sad about that," Arcilla told ABS-CBN News on Tuesday.

Arcilla, who had been based overseas for 30 years, said she is only starting to learn to render care for her mother.

"Pero 'yung galing sa puso mo at galing sa pagmamahal, kusang lalabas kung ano ang para sa kanya, 'yung maging komportable siya, na sa araw-araw ay mag-enjoy siya kung anuman 'yung natitirang buhay sa kanya," she said.

Born Remedios Papa Dancel, Flores became a prized contract artist of film production company Sampaguita Pictures in the 1950s. She rose to fame for her role as a villainous stepmother to two children in the 1951 film "Roberta."

Flores went on to star in subsequent films as a "kontrabida," cementing her stature as the most recognizable and enduring actress to take on the archetype.

Her most recent project, a short comedy film released in August last year (above), sees her turning full circle as a "master" of the "kontrabida" role.

According to Arcilla, Flores appears to retain less and less recent memory. "I think she's there na (having Alzheimer's disease). She's there. Medyo 'di po siya nakakakilala. 'Yung mga natatandaan niya 'yung mga way back when. 'Yung ngayon, naii-skip na sa mind niya. Meron na siyang signs na hindi nakikilala, so andoon na siya."

Arcilla added that her mother has had difficulty with digestion. The veteran actress' daughter, however, would prefer at this time to forgo of measures that would make her daily living even less conventional.

"I refuse at this time na i-IV (intravenous therapy) siya. Gusto ko pa rin siyang maging tao, na buhay na tao, na kine-care lang namin," she said.

Even though Flores is no longer as full of life and energy, Arcilla expressed confidence that her mother will recover.

"She's always been strong, and she's still strong, kahit na sa hirap na nararamdaman niya, sa lahat ng hirap ng katawan niya, she's still very strong and I'm sure she's still praying to god to give her a longer life," she said.

Arcilla said she draws strength from her family.

Turning emotional, she said, "Andiyan ang husband kong si Jesse, ang anak kong si Jessica, 'yung tita ko sa United States na constantly nagre-remind sa 'kin na, 'Just hang in there, malulusutan din natin to eventually."

Flores' long-time friends and colleagues from the entertainment industry have also lent support to her family. Among them, Arcilla said, are veteran actresses Susan Roces, Boots Anson-Roa, Gloria Romero, Gloria Sevilla, and Nova Villa.

"Masaya ako dahil mayroon talagang mga taong nagmamahal sa kanya, nagpapakita sa kanya ng pagmamahal. In my 30 years of absence dito sa Pilipinas, I'm sure my mommy has done her share ng pakikisama sa mga katrabaho niya," she said.

According to Arcilla, her family is considering long-term medical treatment for Flores.

"Doon po kami umaasa na merong chance of recovery, pero ayoko naman maging hopeful, kasi ang Diyos lang po ang may alam, kung ano ang kanyang mamarapatin sa ina ko.

"Ang aming dasal na kung bibigyan pa po niya si mom ng mahabang buhay pa, iyong pong mae-enjoy pa niya, iyong komportable pa siya. Kung kukunin na po siya ni God, hindi po namin ipagdadamot, dahil siya lang po ang nakakaalam, at alam ko naman mahal niya si mom," she said. -- with a report from Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News