How manager Ethel Ramos rescued Aga Muhlach’s career 2
With veteran talent manager Ethel Ramos’ guidance, the 90s through the 2000s saw Aga Muhlach’s career soaring to greater heights. Photos courtesy of Farrah Ramos and IMDB

How Ethel Ramos saved Aga Muhlach’s career: ‘Without her guidance, I won’t be where I am’

“Aga, one day you’ll get old, and you’re gonna be tired,” the talent manager once told her ward. “Pag wala kang pera, you can’t say no to work.”
ANCX Staff | Sep 20 2023

To longtime movie reporters, she was both colleague and “Dean of the Entertainment Press” but to A-list actor Aga Muhlach, Ethelwolda “Ethel” Ramos was the woman to whom he credits much of his success. The award-winning actor said as much during the wake for the recently departed talent manager and PR maven.

Aga was on the verge of tears recalling his relationship with his Tita Ethel who passed away September 10. She was 87. Aga recalled being shot fast to stardom back in 1984 thru his first screen outing as a teenager—he was 15–in the youth-oriented comedy film “Bagets.” The movie was such a mammoth hit it was followed soon after by two more films which tapped into his good looks and dancing prowess: “Hotshots” and “Campus Beat.” “In ‘84, ‘85, ‘86 [my career] was [up] there,” he said in the eulogy captured in a video by entertainment reporter Nerissa Almo. 

Aga was also doing movies left and right under Mother Lily Monteverde’s Regal Films where Ethel was often in charge of press conferences.

Ang pinakaayaw kong gawin noon ay umattend ng presscon,” Aga said looking back. He would often arrive late in press gatherings or not show up at all. Ethel would tell him then: “Ano ka ba? Dumating ka pa.” 

The showbiz rookie became a huge sensation but struggled to manage his newfound fame. “Bilang binata, nagkaroon tayo ng kasikatan, ako po ay nagrebelde. Akala ko walang katapusan ang buhay pag-aartista, hanggang sa ako’y nawala nang nawala,” Aga shared.  

By the time the heartthrob turned 21, he had a spiritual awakening and began to shed his childlike ways. He knew he was made for bigger things and he was thankful someone else saw it too—and that was Ethel.

“Pinatawag ng tatay ko si Tita Ethel sa bahay namin sa New York, Cubao,” Aga recalled. But since he didn’t want his father meddling in his showbiz career, he requested for a separate meeting with the talent manager. “Tita Ethel, pwede po tayong mag-meet bukas po sa Bistro Lorenzo?” he asked, suggesting a popular Greenhills showbiz insider hangout. Ethel agreed—but since she was well aware of Aga’s reputation, she issued a caveat: “I’ll be there 1 o’clock. If you’re one minute late, forget about it.”

Aga did make it on time to the meeting. Their talk stretched to evening. The talent manager posed questions that has remained with the actor to this day: “Are you ready for the big time? Do you know what it entails to be in that league?” Aga told Ethel he’s ready to do whatever it takes.

From then on, the manager and talent would discuss how to turn Aga’s then already lukewarm career around. “Lahat ng sakit dinaanan ko diyan… Ang hirap kung paano niya ako minolde talaga dahil matigas ang ulo ko. But I had aspirations. I had big dreams and she saw that in me,” Aga said.

With Ethel’s guidance, the 90s through the 2000s saw Aga’s career soaring to greater heights. He became one of the most in-demand leading men in the country, starring in top-tier projects like “Sinungaling Mong Puso” with Vilma Santos, “Bakit Labis Kitang Mahal” and “Sana Maulit Muli” with Lea Salonga, “May Minamahal” with Aiko Melendez, “Pangako… Ikaw Lang” with Regine Velasquez, “Kailangan Kita” with Claudine Barretto, “All My Life”with Kristine Hermosa, “Sa Aking Mga Kamay” opposite Christopher de Leon, “A Love Story” with Maricel Soriano, and “In the Name of Love” with Angel Locsin. 

He was also TV’s most loved veterinarian from 1993 to 2000 in the hit sitcom “Oki Doki Dok,” which spawned two comedy flicks “Oki Doki Doc: The Movie” (1996) and “Oki Doki Dok, That’s My Doc” (2007).

During those years, Ethel gave his ward undivided attention. “Sa totoo lang akala ko ako lang ang nasa buhay niya,” said Aga. “Akala ko ako lang kasi every time we talk, it was just about me and no one else.”

Ethel did not only treat Aga like a talent but like a real son, guiding him through life and “shielding” him from the dangers of the spotlight. She urged him to save up for his future. “Aga, one day you’ll get old, and you’re gonna be tired,” she said. “Pag wala kang pera, you can’t say no to work.” 

“All that she thought about was me. Puro sa akin lang: paano ako sisikat, paano ako yayaman, paano ako titino, at paano ako makakahanap ng napakahusay at napakabait na asawa,” he said, gesturing toward his wife Charlene in the audience, his voice breaking. “Kung wala ang guidance niya, wala na ako talaga.”