MANILA - Maja Salvador considers herself lucky to have been able to work with Mark Gil in his last TV series, "The Legal Wife," before he passed away due to liver cancer.
In the Primetime Bida series, Gil portrayed Dante Ramos, the biological father of Salvador's character Nicole and an adoptive parent of Monica, portrayed by Angel Locsin.
In a video interview with ABS-CBN News, Salvador said she was shocked upon learning that Gil died on Monday morning, two years after he was first diagnosed with cancer.
Gil and his family had kept secret his condition, even as they found it his cancer was terminal in June this year -- the same month "The Legal Wife" ended its nearly five-month run.
In a separate interview, the series' director, Rory Quintos, said she sought to clarify his condition after hearing rumors that he was ill. Assuring Quintos that he had been in remission, Gil insisted that he could resume work.
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.
"Sobrang nakakagulat at nakakalungkot na balita," Salvador said of Gil's passing. "Nawalan tayo ng isang magaling na aktor sa industriya. Gusto ko lang sabihin na napakaswerte ko na nakatrabaho ko siya."
The 25-year-old actress said she learned from Gil, whose showbiz career spanned 35 years, as they shot several scenes together.
Beyond their professional ties, Salvador recalled that Gil had been planning to organize a get-together for the cast and crew of "The Legal Wife" outside the set.
"Dahil sa mga busy na schedule namin, hindi na natuloy, at 'yon, hanggang ito na lang 'yung balita na nakarating sa akin. Sorbang nakakalungkot na isa sa mga hinahangaan kong aktor, nawala na," she said.
"Tito Mark, thank you for everything. Ma-mi-miss ka po namin."
Salvador also expressed support for one of Gil's six children, actress Andi Eigenmann, with whom she co-starred in the 2011 drama series "Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin."