MANILA—Irene Tesorero, sister of Mahal, has broken her silence on the passing of the comedienne, sharing her regret over their unresolved misunderstanding just over a week before she died.
Mahal died on August 31, aged 46, due to digestive complications and COVID-19.
Tesorero, who is based in Cleveland, Ohio, expressed her gratitude to those who condoled with her family’s loss, in a virtual interview with Boy Abunda released on Tuesday.
“Parang ang mundo, lumiit para sa kaniya. Nagsama-sama. Maraming salamat sa kanila,” she said of the outpouring of condolences and support through donations.
Tesorero painted a picture of her close relationship with Mahal, eldest of four siblings. She described the star as a doting sister, who would always check up on them despite their distance.
“Panganay siya, pero bunso sa amin ‘yan. Napakalambing, maalalahanin. Araw-araw ‘yan, nag-mi-message, lalo ngayong may online. ‘Kumain ka na? Kumusta ka na? Natulog ka ba?’ Hindi ‘yan nakakalimot,” she said.
It was Mahal who financially helped Tesorero to migrate to the US, Tesorero said. Their last conversation, she added, was a week before Mahal fell ill.
A separate account from vlogger Mygz Molino, the last companion of Mahal, indicated that she first experienced COVID-19 symptoms on August 25.
“Ito ang pinaka masakit sa lahat,” Tesorero said. “‘Yung last naming nagkausap, a week before siya nagkasakit, nagkatampuhan kami. Kasi namatay na si Papa. Sabi ko sa kaniya, ‘Umuwi ka muna, mag-grieve ka muna kay Papa. Kailangan mo ‘yan, e.’”
Their father passed away on August 5.
Mahal had been based in Batangas with Molino, while her family lives in Metro Manila.
“Lagi siyang umiiyak. Nagkatampuhan kami a week bago siya nagkasakit,” she said.
Tesorero said she regretted the argument with Mahal. “Sana wala na lang ako sinabi, hinayaan ko na lang. Maybe ‘yung bigat na nararamdaman ko, hindi sana ganito. Kasi minahal ko ‘yan,” she said.
Tesorero, however, clarified that Molino, who had been with Mahal for two years, was not the reason behind the misunderstanding.
“Hindi si Mygz,” she said. “Ang gusto ko lang, umuwi lang siya. Lalo noong namatay si Papa, gusto ko siyang mag-grieve with the family. Hindi siya nakinig.”
According to Molino, in his separate vlog recounting Mahal’s final days, the comedienne had been in low spirits over the death of her father. He surmised that the emotional distress affected her immunity, leading to her falling ill.
In her interview, Tesorero was also asked to describe Molino’s relationship with Mahal. While her sister had told her that they were only friends, Tesorero said she was convinced they had a special relationship.
“Ang sabi niya (Mahal) sa akin, kaibigan,” she said. “Iba ‘yung definition sa kaniya ng kaibigan at boyfriend. Kagaya niyan, magkasama sila sa bahay, boyfriend niya na ‘yan.”
Describing how Molino would treat Mahal, Tesorero said:
“Kaibigan, pero special na kaibigan.”
Tesorero drew a contrast between Molino and Mahal’s past romances, which constantly became the subject of intrigue.
She said she never once approved of Mahal’s past boyfriends prior to Molino, “because alam kong niloloko nila si Mahal, for publicity lang.”
“Alam mo pag mahal ang kapatid mo,” she emphasized.
Her disapproval resulted in a friction between her and Mahal. Tesorero asked her sister to stay home with her family, but the comedienne insisted otherwise.
Recalling Mahal’s words during those arguments, Tesorero said: “Kayo nga, may pamilya, may anak. Ako wala. Ito lang ang nagpapasaya sa akin — boyfriend, barkada. Hayaan mo na ako. Nabibigay ko naman ang gusto niyong lahat.”
Tesorero explained that due to living with dwarfism, Mahal had to be assisted physically to do her daily routine, a responsibility Tesorero felt could only be entrusted to their family.
“Kasi baby ‘yan, e. Lahat kailangan mo i-abot — tubig, sipilyo. Alaga namin ‘yan,” she said.
Molino, unlike Mahal’s past companions, proved he could give the comedienne the care she needed, Tesorero shared.
“‘Yung pag-aalaga niya, OK naman. Kasi ‘yung ibang mga boyfriend ni Mahal, hindi ganiyan ang trato kay Mahal. Si Mygz, talagang binigyan niya ng special treatment si Mahal, kaya OK ako sa kaniya,” she said.
Tesorero belied speculation that her family had ill feelings toward Molino.
“Hindi. Lahat kami hindi. Kung tutuusin, nagpapasalamat kami kay Mygz kasi ‘yung huling two days ni Mahal, nagsasabi na si Mygz. Si Mahal, sinasabi niyang okay lang siya. Si Mygz, tumatawag na kay tita, sinasabi na kung ano ang sitwasyon ni Mahal. Naiintindihan kong ginawan nila ng paraan,” she said.
The aunt Tesorero was referring to was their step-mother.
She then recalled the conversation she had with Molino through a phone call, on the day Mahal died.
“Sincere iyong kaniyang apology na ginawa niya ang lahat. Sabi ko, ‘Mygz, at least napasaya mo ‘yung kapatid ko the last years of her life.’ Masaya naman siya, e. Iyon lang talaga, unexpected ‘yung nangyari kay Mahal,” she said.
Tesorero also belied that their family members had publicly disapproved of Molino and accused him of using Mahal as vlogging partner for income.
“Kahit sino puwede magpanggap na galing sa pamilya ni Mahal,” she said, referring to circulating images allegedly showing posts from the Tesoreros. “Pero wala sa aming ni isa na magkakapatid, o magulang ko, [ang nagsabi nu’n].”
Asked for her message to Molino, Tesorero expressed gratitude for making her sister happy.
“Sa huling dalawang taon ng buhay ni Mahal, napakasaya niya. Sana hindi ka maging stranger after nito, kasi ikaw nalang ‘yung huling memories ni Mahal sa amin. I bet ‘yung last day, last week niya sa iyo, marami kayong good memories,” she said.
Tesorero had a tearful answer when asked what she would like to tell Mahal. She circled back to their argument, saying she regrets they were not able to resolve it.
“I’m sorry. Hindi ko in-expect. Sinabi ko lang naman sa ‘yo iyon kasi I love you and I care for you. Alam mo naman ‘yan, e,” she said.
“Kayong dalawa ni Papa, lagi ko kayong binibiro. Kayo talaga, paborito niyo ang isa’t isa, lagi kayong magkasama. Ayan, nagkasunod talaga sila.”
Her prayer now, Tesorero said, is to be able to accept both the loss of her father and sister.
“Sana bigyan ako ng kapanatagan ng loob na tanggap ‘yung wala na sila,” she said.