March 3,1976 – November 4, 2017
Scouted to do commercials as a little girl, Isabel Granada naturally spotted for showbiz too, what with her distinct mestiza looks. Her pretty face, framed by her thick eyebrows, voluminous lashes and ever-smiling eyes, not to mention an angelic voice to boot, quickly made her a full-fledged member of the Philippine entertainment industry.
As she entered her teens, Granada became one of the most popular stars of German Moreno’s “That’s Entertainment” on GMA Network. While on the youth variety show, she busily made movies, recorded albums, and appeared in shows across the country and abroad.
Never leaving showbiz, even as she became a wife and mother, Granada would always appear in projects from time to time, her latest, a well-reviewed stint in the successful ABS-CBN prime time series “A Love to Last,” headlined by Bea Alonzo and Ian Veneracion.
As such, the entire nation was shocked and saddened by the news on October 25 that the well-known actress collapsed at a meet-and-greet event in Doha, Qatar for The Philippine Trade and Tourism Conference. Granada was reported to have gone into a coma and was kept in the ICU for close monitoring.
Her last post on her Facebook account was at 5:10 am on October 24 (Qatar time). Quoting Bible verses, she wrote what others believe to have been a premonition: “As you turn your attention to Christ Jesus, feel the Light of His Presence shining upon you. Open your mind and heart to receive His heavenly smile of approval. Let His gold-tinged Love awash over you and soak into the depths of your being. As you are increasingly filled with His Being, you experience joyous union with Him. He suffuses your soul with Joy in His Presence; at His right hand there are pleasures forevermore. (John 17:20-21; Psalm 16:11) BLISSFUL TUESDAY!”
Family, friends, fans and the whole industry, including the entertainment press to whom she was endeared since her teeny bopper days, fell to their knees in prayer, asking the heavens to rouse the sweet and beautiful Isabel.
But, after a vigil of 10 whole days, the beloved actress-singer was officially pronounced dead on November 4, at around 11 pm (Manila time).
A husband’s pain
“Prognosis was bad even right after she was brought to the hospital. It became worse two days later. I was whispering to her while holding her hand how much I love her, and how I wanted to be in her place as she has more to offer [the world]than me,” Granada’s common-law husband Arnel Cowley intimated to The Sunday Times Magazine on the second night of her wake at Santuario de San Jose in Greenhills, San Juan on Friday.
“I asked the nurses and doctors if she could still hear me, as the sense of hearing is the last one to be extinguished, and they said yes. A tear flowed from the side of her left eye, so I was still hopeful that by miracle of miracles, she would improve.”
“Everything was so sudden,” he said, “I was caught unprepared.”
Cowley held back tears as he remembered how their relationship blossomed. They lived in the same neighborhood in Cubao, Quezon City, and she was his crush.
“She was 11 or 12 then and I was 15. I made ligaw, but the courtship did not prosper. She got married, and I got married [in Australia]. Then through social media, we got reconnected after more than 20 years. Her marriage was on the rocks, the same with my own marriage. And since we touched base once again, the more I’ve loved her, the more I cared for her, the more I adored her,” he said.
He said that since the first day that Granada met his two daughters – Sarah (now 17) and Abbey (now 12) – everything has been good with the four of them.
As he had already said in TV interviews, Cowely told The Sunday Times Magazine, “She has been a fantastic wife, mother and daughter. She always did her best in everything, whether in front of camera or sports. There had been no day that we were apart. I was where she was, and she was where I’d be. I really don’t know what to do now that she’s gone.”
A son’s love
Granada’s 14-year-old son Hubert—a Grade 9 student at OB Montessori in Angeles City—who took after most of her features, in a light moment during the wake, said he is not discounting the possibility of following his mother’s footsteps in showbiz. What he would really like to be though is an architect.
He said that he was able to tell his mom all the things he wanted to say—expressed his love and asked for forgiveness for his shortcomings as a son.
His mom visited him in Angeles City two weeks before she went to Qatar, and they had an enjoyable dinner together. His only regret is that they hardly spent time together when Granada left to live in Australia when he was 12.
Like Cowley, he said a tear fell from his mother’s eye when he talked to her while holding her hand. But when they pulled her off the life support machine on November 4, his mom instantaneously turned white, meaning that her breathing for those 10 days were merely assisted.
He asserted that his parents’ marriage had never been annulled, so they remained a family until the end.
A mom lets go
Mommy Guapa, on the other hand, has accepted her daughter’s death. Although she still did not want to see her only child inside the coffin, choosing to sit at the very last pew of the chapel, she told The Sunday Times Magazine that her “consuelo” is that a lot of people showed so much affection for Granada.
“I really have nothing to say except to express gratitude to the people of the Spanish Embassy and the Filipinos in Qatar,” Mommy Guapa, a Spanish national, related. “They took care of us. Everything became lighter because of their help. Now I have a guardian angel.”
A dear friend
One of her closest friends in showbiz, co-That’s Entertainment member Jennifer Sevilla, said of the much-loved celebrity, “She was pretty as a doll with her lovely eyebrows, thick lashes, and that sweet smile! She was very supportive and a dear friend through the years. Isabel was a truly beautiful human being, inside and out. Her smiles radiated her inner joy. I always admired her being multi-talented and skilful in many areas,” Sevilla said.
“She was very strong, brave, driven, hardworking and excellent at everything that she did. She was always positive, thankful, and had a joyful, adventurous spirit. She was nice and kind to everyone she met and knew. Isabel was an amazing woman, daughter, mother, wife, friend, entertainer, air force pilot, and more.”
Granada’s remains will be taken to Arlington Chapel and cremated at 2 pm today. Her ashes will then be brought back to Santuario de San Jose, after which her urn will be placed beside her father’s, Humberto Granada, who died in 1995, at the San Jose Parish Columbary.