MANILA - Celebrities and fashion designers poured out their grief, just moments after first-ever Binibining Pilipinas winner Maria Myrna Sese Panlilio died of gall bladder disease at the Makati Medical Center last night.
Binibining Pilipinas-Universe and actress Maria Isabel Lopez, who had once knocked horns with Panlilio, feels sorry about her death.
Lopez, speaking sadly, said she had already forgiven Panlilio for barring her from attending the Bb. Pilipinas coronation night at the Araneta Coliseum last May. Panlilio cited Lopez's sexy image during the 1980s.
“I respected and understood what she had to do that time,” Lopez said. "I pray for her soul. I am sure she's happy now with the Lord."
Lopez said she will pay her last respects to Panlilio's remains at the Sanctuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park.
Panlilio was an officer of the Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc., which former beauty titlist Stella Marquez-Araneta heads. She was also the Executive Director of the Nayong Pilipino.
She developed a number of tourist attractions on the site and actively campaigned for the advancement of Philippine tourism. Panlilio, who married Dr. Ramon N. Borromeo, was also a socio-civic leader and TV co-host of beauty expert Ricky Reyes.
When she represented the country at the 1964 Miss Universe, she relished opportunities to socialize. During the beauty pageant's socials events, she attended a Democratic Convention at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California.
Society writer Bob Zozobrado said that early last year, on Panlilio's 65th birthday, she hosted a soiree at the Philippine International Convention Center to help raise funds for cancer victims. This year, she held a simpler party, but her friends and colleagues in the tourism business took time out to donate to her cause just the same.
The death of her daughter, fashion model Patricia Borromeo, in 2003 prompted Panlilio to form the Trisha P. Borromeo Legacy Association, which aims to support the University of the Philippines- Philippine General Hospital Pediatric Cancer Ward.
Patricia, known to all show business people as actor Richard Gomez’s ex-sweetheart, was a very charming lady just like her mom.
Goulle Gorospe, a noted fashion designer who used to dress up Bb. Binibining Pilipinas contestants, said Panlilio was a gracious woman. “Ang bait-bait niya. Siya ang epitome ng kagandahan at kasosyalan,” Gorospe said.
The late beauty icon, according to Gorospe, was a noted member of high society.
“The last time I saw her was during actress Liberty Ilagan’s birthday last week. She was so gorgeous. Para siyang hindi tumatanda. I told her she’s lucky to have been associated with both people from show biz and the elite. She just chuckled,” Gorospe reminisced.
Gorospe said he felt sad when Panlilio’s name was dragged into the Maria Isabel Lopez controversy. “I think it wasn’t Myrna’s real sentiment. She was just following orders from above,” shared Gorospe.