Lorli shares ‘secret’ Marcos story in new book, her first » Manila Bulletin Entertainment

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Just a Thought: ‘As long as I can walk and talk, I’ll try almost anything. I say ‘almost’ because the high wire is definitely out.’ – Lauren Bacall

Turning Heads: Balikbayan actress-turned book author Lorli Dima-ala Villanueva is sure to make heads turn with the publication of her first book, “Dancing With The Dictator.”

The 180-page, 8x 8 book tackles a controversial, sensitive chapter in her colorful life, her close encounter with former President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Lorli Dima-Ala Villanueva (seated) with friends

“Dancing With The Dictator” is a personal account of how Lorli was “invited” (kidnapped?) by Marcos’ men in the 1970s and was held for five days in Bataan aboard the presidential yacht to entertain a special guest, a foreigner-scientist who had a crush on her.

The book reveals the suspenseful, inside story of such an episode which the multi-awarded actress is revealing for the first time.

Bury Marcos: As Lorli puts it, she came home from years of teaching and school administration in New York only to witness more unrest and controversy spawned by the late President’s burial in 2016 at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

During a live interview with TV5 anchor Luchi Cruz-Valdez on “Reaksyon,” she openly voiced her opinion about wanting Marcos buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

She said, “To me, he is part of Philippine history, regardless of how we look at him. Even Stalin, Mussolini and Idi Amin were given their right as president. Why can’t we do the same?

“There is too much pain and hate, personal motives and politics around us. We make our lives difficult to live. Many have stunted their personal lives by not moving on.”

While Lorli favors Marcos’ burial at the Libingan, she maintains that she remains an activist at heart. “It is up to history to decide whether Marcos is to be regarded as a hero or not.”

All experiences, Lorli said, are building blocks to a better person. “My experience with President Marcos is a part of that.”

She said Marcos offered her lucrative positions in government, but she refused them. She was even asked if she wanted to run a popular TV network at the time.

Writing Books: Writing a book has been on her bucket list for many years. It took her retirement from showbiz and academe to finally sit down and finish it.

Here’s the better news: Lorli is not fully retired at 71. She has written, not just one, but two quite revealing, books in a row. She plans to write some more.

The books, “Dancing With The Dictator” and “Realms Of The Unknown,” were launched simultaneously at Limbaga 77 restaurant with a star-studded lineup of special guests in attendance.

Lorli writes in her foreword to ‘Dictator:’ “People ask why I have chosen to write this story only now. I realize it is not because of fear, lack of words to describe this part of my life or any other reason, but rather about knowing how my many experiences in life have made me see a clearer picture of how I have evolved to what I am… a quiet, listening, feeling person, forgiving and flexible.’’

Adventures in Wanderland: In “Realms Of The Unknown,” Lorli remembers that as a young girl in the elementary grades, she would walk home from La Paz Elementary School in Iloilo City with her best friend and classmate, Miriam Defensor (Santiago), every day to her grandmother’s house along the banks of the Iloilo river.

“We would go through a pathway behind small huts among cogon fields. At a certain part of the path, I would always be greeted by happy little people who would hold my hand. Did I encounter dwarfs back then?”

She says: “I know we live in a world where other worlds exist. Though many do not believe this, the realms of the unknown are real to me.’’

The 91-page book chronicles 11 stories about her encounters with ghosts and assorted spirits.

“Realms Of The Unknown” has an introduction by Jaime T. Licauco, the country’s foremost expert on paranormal experiences.

Lorli, The Awarded Actress: Lorli may be better known among culture buffs as an award-winning actress on stage, TV and films.

Among her outstanding film credits are remarkable roles in “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang,” “Bayan Ko,” “Lunes, Martes, Miercules,” “Oro, Plata, Mata,” “Paraisong Parisukat.” She’s not ruling out an acting comeback. She also plans to study painting next.

Lorli has a master’s degree in Communication Studies from Northern Illinois University on a Fulbright scholarship. At the time she retired, she held the lofty position of deputy chair, Graduate School of Education and Special Education, Touro College University System in New York where she has been residing since the late 1980s.

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