MANILA -- Former beauty queen Winwyn Marquez still could not believe that Mahal, the pint-sized comedienne who endeared herself to a generation of Filipino viewers, has passed away.
In an Instagram post, the Reina Hispanoamericana 2017 titleholder said she has always considered Mahal, whose real name is Noemi Tesorero, as her "ate" or older sister.
"From the first day na nakilala at nakasama kita, parang naging ate na kita. Lagi mo akong kinakamusta, sinasamahan, at inaalagaan. Kayong dalawa ni Mygz (Mahal's rumored boyfriend), pinaramdam niyo na hindi ako iba. Kahit paglabas natin sa lock-in [taping], napaka-supportive at ateng-ate ka pa rin," the actress said.
"Napakabuti mong tao, ate Mahal. Hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala na wala ka na," she added.
"Sabi mo magkikita at mamamasyal pa tayo."
Marquez also thanked Mahal for all the smiles and memories they've shared as she extended her condolences to the comedienne's family.
"Salamat sa ngiti na binigay mo sa amin, at lalo na sa akin. Salamat sa mga usapang life and love. I really want to hug you right now," she said.
"Sa pamilya ni ate and kay Mygz, I send my deepest sympathies. Rest in peace, Ate Mahal. I love you so, so much," she ended.
In another post, Marquez shared some of her TikTok videos with Mahal, which ranged from funny skits to dance numbers.
"I love you, ate Mahal," she said in the caption.
Mahal died due to digestive complications and COVID-19, her US-based sister, Irene Tesorero, told ABS-CBN News.
She is best remembered for her childlike portrayals and giggly personality, as seen in programs like the defunct noontime show "Magandang Tanghali Bayan" in 2003.