Mark Gil in a scene from ABS-CBN's 'The Legal Wife.' Screengrab
MANILA - When Mark Gil was offered the part of Dante Ramos in "The Legal Wife," the late actor already knew he had cancer.
Unknown to the public, Gil was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2012, his family said in a joint statement on his passing on Monday.
Gil, Raphael John Eigenmann in real life, had requested his condition be kept secret, according to his brother Michael de Mesa. This, despite finding out his cancer was terminal in June this year.
Gil's last television show, "The Legal Wife," started filming in October 2013. One of its directors, Rory Quintos, sought to clarify with Gil the state of his health having heard of rumors he was ill.
Speaking with ABS-CBN News' MJ Felipe, Quintos said: "We cleared that with him, and he said that he was in remission and that he really, really wanted to do the project."
Quintos, at the time, reminded Gil of the demands of having a regular role in a TV series. The veteran actor, however, insisted that he had been doing well and could resume work.
"The worst thing, the puyat, it's not good, eh -- the stress, the taping, hindi makakatulong sa health niya. But he said he really, really wanted to do the project," she said.
According to Quintos, Gil showed no signs of being sick for the most part of the filming of "The Legal Wife." However, the director said that Gil started to visibly lose weight towards the last month of the series, which concluded in June -- the same month he learned the cancer was terminal.
Even then, Gil assured his co-workers he was fine.
"When we heard na bumalik na naman 'yung cancer niya, he was really getting very, very thin," Quintos said. "So, ako, personally, I asked him, 'Ralph, are you okay?' Sabi, niya, 'Yeah, yeah, I'm fine, there's nothing wrong with me.'"
On the morning of September 1, Quintos learned from ABS-CBN executive Malou Santos, whose unit produced "The Legal Wife," that Gil passed away.
"He was such a good actor, one of the best," the director said. "Napakagaling na artista. It's sad, because he was also a nice guy to work with, you know."
Asked what she considers a fond memory of Gil, Quintos described the endearing qualities of the actor, including his humility and warmth towards his co-workers.
"He was nice to talk to. If there's one thing that I appreciated in him, it was his honesty. He was very honest," she said. "When you talk to him about matters, he was very accepting. If you call his attention about something, he was very accepting, very apologetic. He was very soft-spoken, he was very malambing, sobra, bilang tao."
Gil is survived by his parents Eddie Mesa and Rosemarie Gil, siblings Cherie Gil and Michael de Mesa, wife Maricar and their daughter Stephanie Cheri, and his five other children from three past relationships.
An event celebrating the life and work of Gil will be held on Wednesday, starting at 10 a.m., at the La Salle Greenhills chapel, according to his family.