Cherie Gil (MNS photo)

MANILA, Aug 6 (Mabuhay) — Screen veteran Cherie Gil, whose five-decade career saw her become local showbiz’s “La Primera Contravida,” has passed away, her family announced on Friday. She was 59.

Her nephew, actor Sid Lucero, confirmed her passing, saying Gil had been ill “for some time,” without giving further details.

“Let’s also stand by for the details and plans from her immediate family,” he added.

Born Evangeline Rose Gil Eigenmann, the acclaimed actress was considered showbiz royalty, forming part of the celebrity Eigenmann clan.

The daughter of singer-actors Eddie Mesa and Rosemaarie Gil, she was among the second-generation Gil actors, along with her siblings Michael de Mesa and the late Mark Gil. She was aunt to the Eigenmann actors, including Ryan, Geoff, Andi, Gabby, and Max.

Gil’s two children with her former husband, violinist Rony Rogoff — Bianca and Raphael — did not pursue an acting career in the Philippines. She has another son, Jay, from her past relationship with actor Leo Martinez.

Dubbed the quintessential “kontrabida” in local TV and film, Gil is best remembered for her villainess roles, including the iconic Lavinia in the 1985 film “Bituing Walang Ningning,” and the snake-haired Valentine, daughter of Valentina, in the 1994 iteration of “Darna.”

In February, Gil surprised her followers with her announcement of moving to New York. At the time, Gil posed for a pictorial with her head completely shaven, as a symbol of her “rebirth.”

‘I’m completely finding myself’: Cherie Gil shaves head to mark ‘rebirth’ as she moves to NY

“I just had to make sure that first and foremost, my mental, emotional, spiritual states were getting the priority. I was getting tired of myself. And I was just so angry and unhappy, so I sold everything and packed up,” she told lifestyle magazine Mega.

“I got rid of all the clothes I had that symbolized a past life… I’m completely finding myself and coming to terms with who I really am. It’s just great to have this opportunity and to be alive to start over. It’s like a rebirth of sorts.”

Gil also waxed sentimental about leaving her acting career after 52 years, when asked about the practicality of starting anew in the US, without yet a certain job to sustain her.

“May mga nagsasabi kasi marami akong pera but in fact, they don’t know anything. I’m just a human being. We go through the same ropes of the downs, the highs and the lows. I am not going to be surprised if I die a pauper, but I have lived a life,” she said. (MNS)

READ NEXT: Bianca Lapus backs Vhong Navarro amid new legal row