MANILA, Philippines - Cecille Cinco, 33, was nursing her sick eldest daughter, 6-year-old Rachelle, at their shanty in Pook Maligaya in Fairview when she heard the sad news—Palito is dead!
She dropped the blanket she was going to use to wrap her feverish child. Cecille gazed at the window and sighed.
Afterwards, she went to the kitchen, and there, she cried in silence.
She clasped her tummy, a life breathing inside for 6 months now, a palpable birthright in memory of the father, Palito.
Clockwise (Rhian, 2; Rachelle, 6; Cecille Cinco, Palito's last girl and Rey-Ann, 5)
Cecille is one of the many young ladies Palito wooed and won.
Palito, Reynaldo Hipolito in real life, died of complications due to a lump in his chest, Monday morning at the Philippine General Hospital in Manila.
Waitress and comedian meet
Known for his emaciated, sickly and zombie-like characters in Philippine movies, Palito and Cecille met at an eatery in Lopez de Vega Street in Sampaloc, Manila, where she was a waitress and the comedian was hanging around with colleagues in stage shows.
Cecille was fresh from the province in Tacloban, Leyte and had come to Manila to take her chances in the city.
He constantly and closely followed Cecille to the point that it annoyed her.
“Nakukulitan ako sa kanya pero nagustuhan ko na rin siya,” recalled Cecille in an interview Tuesday evening at a densely populated room in a low-cost housing project in Pook Maligaya.
She was attracted to the comic because of his earnestness, sense of humor and celebrity status. “Idol ba. Kasi, artista,” Cecille confessed.
She fantasized about him as a fan mesmerized by a larger-than-life hero, however fleeting.
At the time, Cecille was sharing a room with her married younger sister Alma in the relocation-type residence in the once forested Barangay Maligaya.
“No’ng una, nagagalit ako sa kapatid ko na nakipag-boyfriend siya kay Palito," quipped Alma. "Pero later, natuwa na rin ako, kasi artista siya."
Later, Palito and Cecille rented out an entresuelo, a stone’s throw from Alma’s apartment.
Cecille had, since then, stopped working.
“Everyday, sa akin siya umuuwi,” said the petite, fair-complexioned provincial lass.
3 kids with another on the way
Palito had sired Cecille three beautiful daughters—Rachelle; Rey-Ann, 4; and, Rhian, 2.
She’s now heavy with their fourth child. “Hindi ko pa alam kung babae ito o lalaki,” said Cecille.
She couldn’t afford to pay for an ultrasound to know the baby’s sex even when Palito was still alive and working.
After the comic left their house barely three weeks ago, she couldn’t pay for the rent, including a water ration bill amounting to P1,700.00, so she decided to leave the place.
“Ang sabi niya sa akin, ipapadala niya ang suweldo niya nito lang March,” recounted Cecille.
Palito had been working as a nightly performer at the Pagcor Casino in Sta. Cruz, where he received a regular talent fee.
But the monthly financial support stopped coming after he left the house.
Kids in tow, Cecille now stays with Alma in a small room in Pook Maligaya.
She said she and Palito had thought of naming their fourth child Junior if it's a boy.
“But there’s already a Reynaldo Hipolito, Jr.,” we reminded Cecille.
So she interjected, “E di, da third,” she chuckled.
Laughter, she said, eases out the pain she’s going through.
Wants to see dad one last time
Suddenly, her eldest, after a candid fun time with playmates, burst into tears, and she was crying.
“Mahal na mahal kasi niya ang Daddy niya. Gusto niyang makita ang Daddy niya for the last time,” exclaimed Cecille. “Gusto rin naming makadalaw sa burol.”
The last time she saw Palito, said Cecille, was on March 19, 2010.
She learned that he was in Malagasang 2 in Imus, Cavite and they were still communicating through their mobile phones.
Even when the actor was hospitalized and on his death bed, his phone was still kept open.
“Matagal na siyang may nararamdaman pero bakit pinatagal pa bago siya ipinasok sa ospital? Bakit April 7 lang siya ipinasok?” asked Cecille.
Cecille’s only wish for now is help for them to go back to Tacloban and raise her kids there. “Sana, matulungan sila ng ‘Wish Ko Lang,’” suggested Alma.
Hipolitos don't want unofficial family members
But the Hipolitos are adamant against allowing “unofficial” and “unrecognized” members of the family to pay their last respects to their dearly beloved.
“Sa amin, okey lang na dumalaw sila. Pero sa mother namin, itatanong pa namin. Siyempre, sa kanya ang desisyon. Pero alam namin, ayaw niya. Baka tumaas ang presyon n’yan pag may makita na mga bata na sinasabing anak ni Daddy," said Arvy Hipolito, one of the sons of Palito by his legal wife, Remedios Hipolito, at the Loyola Memorial Chapels in Makati City Tuesday night.
He added that there are many who claim they are also Palito’s wives and children. “May nand’yan pa nga sa labas na gustong pumasok. May iba-ibang pangalan. May Ligaya pa,” he said.
“Itatanong din namin kay Mommy. Kasi, mahirap na. Ayaw naming may iskandalo rito sa punerarya. Ang alam ko, pag grown-ups na, puwedeng dumalaw pero ang mga bata, hindi,” said Arlene Hipolito-Menguito, the only daughter of Reynaldo and Remedios.
“Mas mabuti pa, huwag na lang. Wala naman kaming pinipili. Nauunawaan namin sila. Hindi kami nagdya-judge pero sana, irespeto na lang natin ang desisyon ng Lola,” asserted Bro. Arnie.
Hipolito-Meguinto, Palito’s grandson-seminarian, is said to be his grandpa’s favorite.
Kent Hipolito, a musician-stepson of Remedios, is the only kid out of wedlock taken as one of them. “Mahal namin siya. Kasama namin siya sa bahay,” said Arvy.
Kent’s mom works in Guam.