• Throwback in ‘Dancing with the Dictator’

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    GEORGE VAIL KABRISTANTE

    In the late ‘70s, Lorli Villanueva, the acclaimed stage actress from the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), made her TV debut as the screaming laundry woman Maxima Labandera. Endorsing a brand new soap, Maxima made Lorli an instant byword among housewives.

    It stuck for sometime and almost eclipsed her creditable track record—she has successfully crossed the film medium as character actress of no mean caliber.

    She won Best Supporting Actress in Orlando Nadres’ “Lupang Hinirang” and was dearly loved for her role as rich socialite in Peque Gallaga’s “Oro Plata Mata.”

    For a time, TV and films came a-pouring plus hectic theater rehearsals at Dulaang Raja Sulayman, then PETA’s famous open-air theater at Fort Santiago.

    Lorli’s reputation started to snowball it caught the curious eyes of no less than the former strongman Ferdinand Marcos. Then came the most horrifying day of her life. In the middle of a taping for a fantasy TV drama, a bemedaled soldier (a family friend in fact because her father then also served as military adviser for Marcos) politely walked into the studio, whispered into her ears to go pack up from the shoot cautioning her not to make a scene.

    Everyone on the set got cold feet and frozen as the soldier accosted her out into a waiting car guarded by armed soldiers. Inside the car she was blindfolded. Due to horror and exhaustion, Lori fell asleep through much of the travel.

    Upon waking up and the soldier removing the blindfold, the sight of the much-touted presidential yacht, Ang Pangulo, in an unrecognizable small-town pier, overtook Lori.

    Right off, the same soldier led her to where the President was seated and a man of his age was. The President welcomed her in his most captivating smile. She reciprocated with polite and nice banters, showing no sign of panic at all. The actress in her must have prevailed.

    Marcos introduced her to a comely German whose hand quavered when it held against hers. One thing was most certain: she was abducted and would be held hostage.

    Caveat invites interested denizens to come and join Lorli on June 1 from 5 pm to 9 pm at 77 Cafe, Scout Limbaga, Quezon City where she will launch two books that she wrote while creatively living on her traumatic past for decades.

    In the first book, Dancing With The Dictator, Lorli tells all what happened during those horrifying five days of her abduction.

    The second book, Horror Stories, is about her encounters with the unseen starting at childhood in her hometown Iloilo to her deputy post in a college in Manhattan, New York.

    Already retired, the author Lorli Villanueva is back to her home country with bittersweet vengeance.

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