'Softdrink beauty' recalls drug, alcohol addictions
MANILA, Philippines – At the height of her “softdrink beauty” fame in the 1980s, sexy actress Coca Nicolas indulged herself in the pleasures afforded by her movie star lifestyle.
The incessant indulgence took a turn for the worse, however, as excessive vice soon became her pleasure.
Famously known as one of the “Softrink Beauties” along with Sarsi Emmanuel and Pepsi Paloma, Nicolas starred in a string of hit films in the 1980s when "bold" flicks were all the rage.
During this time, Nicolas, whose real name is Johnnalee Hickins, enjoyed her lavish lifestyle as bankable actress.
“Lahat ng gusto ko nakukuha ko. Masarap pala ang feeling pag nasa taas ka,” she said in an interview on “Rated K,” aired Sunday. “Nakabili ako ng bahay, marami akong napag-aral, ‘yung mga pinsan at pamangkin ko.”
While Nicolas had noble pursuits with her growing bank account, she also easily afforded new pleasures.
One of them was Mogadon, a drug she would become addicted to.
“Unang una kong napuntahan ang drugs. Pag ‘yung papasok ka sa disco, may magsusubo na sa ’yo niyan. Mayamaya bangenge ka na,” she said.
Along with her downward spiral towards temptation, her film career also deteriorated, as sexy films would later be overtaken by comedy and action films in popularity. It was too late when Nicolas realized she had used up her savings.
It was during her time as an entertainer in Japan, where she tried to salvage her career, when she turned to alcohol and smoking. Returning to the Philippines, her situation would only get worse. The death of her mother only served to push her more towards her vice.
“Nung natututo ako mag-inom, hindi na ako nag-drugs. Sigarilyo at saka alak naman. Lalo ako nalulong nung mamatay ‘yung nanay ko,” Nicolas said.
“Dinamdam ko, hindi ako kumakain, inom lang, sigarilyo. Wala na ‘kong ginawa kundi ‘yan, hanggang umaga. Minsan hindi na nga ako natutulog, 24 hours eh. Wala na ako sa sarili ko. Nag-iisa lang ako sa bahay ko eh. Kasi ‘yung mga anak ko may mga sariling bahay na rin.”
Had it not been for one fateful day when she felt her late mother’s presence, Nicolas could have gone on to meet a far more tragic fate.
“Kinatok ng mga anak ko, tapos ilang araw, parang nagparamdam sa ’kin ‘yung nanay ko. Sabi ko, ‘Diyos ko, patawarin mo ako, parang nagkulang ako sa’yo,’” she said.
Self-reform had dawned on Nicolas years too late, however, as she had developed a lung disease from cigarette and alcohol abuse.
Now with decades between her and her days as a sexy star, Nicolas said she regrets not putting aside money for her future.
“[Natutunan ko na dapat] umiwas sa barkada, at higit sa lahat, mag-ipon,” she said. “’Yun ang hindi ko rin naisip talaga eh. Ito ako ngayon tuloy.”
With a continuing fight against her lung problem, Johnnalee Hickins has resolved to save what remains not of the money from being “Coca,” but of her new-found treasure, her health.