Death of an Icon

Children of the 80’s and 90’s are surely familiar with Isabel Granada. She was that bubbly mestiza whose name became synonymous with her earliest loveteam, Chuckie Dreyfus. They played brother and sister on the 80’s show “Hapi House.” My mother once said that “that girl will grow up to be a beautiful woman.”

During her teen-age years, she was paired with Reuben Manahan who became her real-life boyfriend, too. All those years, she maintained a wholesome image until she was ripe enough for mature roles like “Ligaya ang Itawag Mo Sa Akin” and “Halik ng Sirena.” Her wedding with Jericho Aguas in 2002 surprised her fans because their love story seemed too fast-paced. Her mother did not attend their wedding because of this but their mother-daughter relationship was soon rekindled after the birth of her son, Hubert.

Isabel was a licensed pilot. She went to PATTS College of Aeronautics; the same school as my friend who was very proud to have her as his schoolmate. Had she focused on flying, she would have been the most beautiful aviatress!

Isabel was a health buff so her aneurysm came as a shock because she seemed to be in the pink of health.  We were on the tourist bus on the day the news announced about her slipping into a coma in Hamad Hospital in Qatar. I was worried most for her mother because that would surely devastate her since Isabel was her one and only child.

“Sleeping Beauty” was said to have six cardiac arrests. Her new husband, Arnel Principe Cowley and distant cousin Joseph Rivera attended to her in the early days of her confinement. The Filipino community in Qatar learned about her ordeal and became the earliest prayer warriors and moral supporters of the Granada-Cowley family. In the Philippines, her bestfriends Bianca Lapus and Chuckie Dreyfus gathered more prayer warriors while ex-husband Jericho Aguas made sure that Hubert and Mommy Guapa would be in Qatar the soonest possible time. Jericho followed them in Qatar three days later due to some visa issues.

Sleeping Beauty’s ordeal had the element of a perfect movie plot. She was young (only 41), vibrant, at the peak of her business career and healthy. The two Mr. Isabel Granada came face to face with each other, maybe for the first time. They set aside their awkwardness and treated each other as family, if only for Sleeping Beauty. Many wished that she would regain her consciousness upon hearing the voice of her only son and mother. Many believed that she would make it until it was revealed after her death that she was clinically dead on the day Hubert and Mama Guapa arrived in Qatar.

Last Friday, November 3, I messaged Sleeping Beauty ” Please wake up.” I found myself silly for messaging her; we were not even acquainted with each other and yet I felt like messaging a friend. I was affected because she was part of my childhood and teenage years. I was affected because somebody so healthy and vibrant as her could just succumb to an illness. I was affected because it reminded me of my mortality and the things that I could have missed while busy with my life. Isabel lived a full life from being an actress, licensed pilot, businesswoman, sports and health enthusiast, friend, wife, daughter and mother. Her death might mean physical death but her legacy lives on.