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Farewell, dahling palangga!

By PEPPER TEEHANKEE and MILLET MANANQUIL Published Feb 22, 2023 6:40 am Updated Feb 22, 2023 11:59 am

Friends recall their favorite memory of society chronicler Maurice Arcache who passed away on Feb. 17.

Tessa Prieto: My happy times with Maurice were always abroad when we traveled together for a media trip or for the launch of a luxury brand. We have been to Australia and Europe and short trips in Asia.

My funniest memory with Mau is that time we were in Germany for stem-cell treatments. On checking in to depart, I had so many kilos overweight (as usual), so Mau was kind enough to not only give me his excess luggage allowance but also leaving his entire suitcase! Anton San Diego and Mons Romulo were in stitches laughing with me at the counter!

I will surely miss this legendary party icon!

Tim Yap: When Maurice and I were in South Africa to watch the musicale Cats, Maurice was so jetlagged he was asleep the entire show. When the show ended, Maurice stood up and applauded wildly: “Bravo, bravo!” Like he saw the entire show.

Many years ago, people were making Maurice and me fight. There was a word war going on and people were chiming in to be part of the action. So when we saw each other, both arriving late to an event, when it was only just the two of us, I told Maurice that I had nothing but respect and admiration for him and what he had done. From then on, we always had that bond, and because he knew that some people just had different intentions for us not to be friends—which made us better friends, secret friends, as he would tell me things as it is. Maurice would correct me and teach me the proper ways on how to be in different social situations—a coach, confidante and mentor of sorts. He would tell me what this and that society matron said about me so early on, I knew who were my friends and whom I had to be careful about.

Maurice Arcache (right) in this Tatler photo with (from left) Pepper Teehankee, Tessa Prieto, Tim Yap, Johnny Litton, Evelyn Lim Forbes and Louie Ysmael

When he would go through tough times, I would call him and he would tell me, “Envy comes in many forms.” He would always be there for me and defend me all the time.

Louie Ysmael: Unknown to many, Maurice was of Lebanese descent. His family, just like mine on my father’s side, came into the Philippines in the same boat in the late 1800s together with all the other Lebanese/ Syrian immigrants. The boat was headed for Australia and further parts unknown, but broke down in Iloilo and so the intermixing began.

Maurice, Edouard Garcia and myself were in Monaco one summer visiting Nene Lacson when I suggested we drive to St. Tropez for the evening, about one and a half hours without traffic. When we got to the entry to the auto route I could see the Saturday traffic was horrible, so while he and Edouard were busy yapping, I quickly doubled back and headed east towards Italy and said, “Oops! I took the wrong turn. Why don’t we just go to Portofino for the day?” And so we ended up going to Portofino and had a pleasant and delicious lunch at the port and merienda and drinks at Il Pelicano. I was driving so fast, Maurice promised he would never ride with me again!

Johnny Litton: Whatever happens, there is only one Maurice Arcache and I respect him, as we all should. He is the one and only Maurice Arcache. 

I had Maurice in my Oh No, it’s Johnny! TV show from 1987 to 2000. The segment of Maurice called “Arcachat” was very popular, as he dished out etiquette and social graces tips. Before the popularity of YouTube, he had instructionals on how to pack for short travels, what glasses to use for drinks at the bar, etc.

His funny one was on giving tips to the waiters: “Don’t give your loose change; the waiter is not your alkansya!”

Alex Van Hagen: I cherish the strong love we had for each other… and the few fights we ended up laughing. Maurice taught me something that I will never forget: “Never go to sleep without fixing the argument or fight for that day. Always go to bed peacefully.”

Irene Martel-Francisco: My memories of times with Maurice are many. I recall breakfasts at The Balcony, the cafe of Faces. Most of all I remember him being there, always supportive and loyal and true throughout all the events we were in together in life.

Anton San Diego: There’s so many more stories to share, from being roommates on a cruise and sleeping half naked (not the top half, but the lower half), to salacious gossip and endless laughter, to partying till the sun went up.

When I became the editor of Tatler (2001), I didn’t know him well, but he took me under his wing to show me the ins and outs of Manila society. He would tell me to stay clear of so-and-so because he would ask me for money or that he had nothing good to say about me. He would proceed to tell me what so-and-so said.

We would travel often; we had a great time in Germany with Tessa and Mons. Or the time we photographed Isabel Preysler at her home in Madrid with the late photographer Raymund Isaac. Once when we were in Brisbane, he took a nasty fall, and we had to bring him to the doctor. We were all worried for him, but we stayed with him in the ER; when he was released, he told us, “Did you see the doctor? He was so hot; I told him to hold my hand!”

During the pandemic, he was confined to his home when he fell, but he would still call, remain positive and recall all our fun days.

I would always tell him to pray and trust God in everything when he sounded low, and he would say, “Anton, but I am so horny!” We would laugh, be quiet, and then get serious.

It’s so hard to say goodbye to a person who has made such an impact on your life. Legend, icon, original, and the end of an era are all thrown around to describe him and his life. There will be no one like him. He was the life of the party, and his life was a party.

What I will miss the most was whenever we would speak on the phone, I would tell him, “Love you, Mau,” and he would always say, “Anton, you know I love you more.” I will treasure those words.

Goodbye, my dearest friend. I will carry in my soul our friendship, the laughter, memories, and time spent together. You will be forever in my heart.

Minnie Osmeña: I first met Maurice in the ‘60s when I produced fashion shows for TWA, non-profit organizations and Aureo Alonso which I brought to eight countries in Asia and Europe. I had Maurice coordinate with the international non-profit organizations to donate all the proceeds of the shows. He also managed our group and did it very well. Maurice was also active with the Osmeña Pearls, my political group in the presidential campaign of my father, Sergio Osmeña, Jr. in 1969.

I saw Maurice on Feb. 5 before I left for the USA. He wanted to feature my birthday celebration in his column in The Philippine Star and I had yet to choose the photos. Our relationship over the years were filled with laughter and happy memories. That is what will remain with me, all my life.

Rest In Peace.

Edd Fuentes: When I wanted my media trips to be super fun, I made sure to include my palangga, Maurice. Always bubbly and witty, Maurice was always the life of any travel party! And in the last 30 years, we had fun eating, shopping, sightseeing in London, Paris, Madrid, Jerez (Spain), Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore... making sure that our media friends and clients were having a fantabulous time. Maurice made my job so much easier.

Edd Fuentes (left) on a media trip that included Sharon Cuneta, Aga Muhlach, Kiko Pangilinan, Ricco Ocampo, Gigi Mabanta, Sari Yap, Maurice Arcache, Tina Maristela Ocampo, Anton San Diego and Millet Mananquil

Veana Fores: Maurice would call me and we’d talk on the phone and we would make kwento about different things and he would ask how my mom (Baby Araneta Fores) was, and it would always end in Ilonggo: “Palangga, padala ka adobo, ang gusto ko ang himo dira sa balay mo (My dear, send me adobo; I want the one made in your house)!” So of course adobo would instantly be sent to him. That happened in every conversation we had.

Lorrie and Cecille Reynoso: We made you promise you will bury us all, Maurice! How could you renege on your word? 

How we will miss you, our beloved friend in all things fun, naughty, and scandalous! You made us believe you were invincible, and we would be, too! Now the fearsome threesome is no more. We are bereft in our grief, our dearest Marsipan! We will love you forever, mon cheri.

Anton Rodriguez Mendoza: I ended up taking the wrong train trying to go to the Church of Our Lady of Bruges from Paris on the day Maurice died. I accidentally found a church to visit while waiting for a connecting train and it was a church with his name. This gives me peace knowing that Maurice is home with the Lord. 

Thelma San Juan: Maurice always knew how to get on your good side, in whatever moment. Like when I had just had my caesarean-section birth delivery in the hospital. I was in the nursery, ready to breastfeed my baby for the first time when I heard him squeal from the door, calling my name—“Dahling!” I had to shout at him to get lost because I was about to breastfeed and his voice—definitely a stress trigger that reminded me of deadlines—put a stop to my milk flow. Of course, he didn’t, but instead, he and Alex wheeled me back to my room. Maurice pushing my wheelchair at San Juan de Dios Hospital while I ranted on is one of my precious memories of my recalcitrant columnist.

Millet Mananquil: I have many sweet memories of Maurice during our travels. I can’t forget how, in Italy, we were a tourist busload of editors and columnists, and the driver made a sudden stop. That made our colleague, the most senior editor among us, lose her balance while she tried to stand up in front. It was Maurice, seated at the very back, who ran quickly towards her to make sure she would not fall.

On another trip during our younger years, I happened to be seated beside an executive who had drunk too much and tried to make passes at me. I approached Maurice in his seat, and told him. He said: “I will walk with you to your seat and let’s pretend I am your boyfriend, sweet nothings and all.” That made the executive stop.

Then Maurice went back to his place, seated beside his true love—Alex Van Hagen.