“Once a crook, always a crook.” Local movie fans will always associate this line with Azenith Briones who made a mark in the cult classic camp Temptation Island in 1980. In this Joey Gosiengfiao film, Azenith plays the go getter Azenith Tobias, a secretary who will do anything to get ahead in life.
Now that she had been reportedly abducted, who could be the crook – or crooks – who supposedly took her by force last week in her BF Homes residence in Parañaque?
At the moment, actress and good friend, Isabel Rivas, is leaving no stone unturned in her quest to find the Azenith. Rivas has been using social media in her search for her "missing" friend. She has also reported the matter to the authorities.
It was another friend, Paul Macasiano, who first posted the possibility of Azenith getting abducted. Isabel picked it up from there and is currently doing everything she could to locate Azenith.
To the new generation who may not be familiar with Azenith, the Southern Luzon native was one of the loveliest faces in the late 1970s. She started as a model and made a name for herself when she joined Mutya ng Pilipinas where she was voted Most Photogenic.
During a search for a new Dolphy leading lady for the movie Omeng Satanasia, Azenith’s name was brought up and the King of Comedy liked her immediately. She even turned out to be Dolphy’s lucky charm.
Since Dolphy was a comedian, no one ever thought he’d earn an acting award for film. In 1977, in fact, the FAMAS gave him and Chiquito honorary trophies for their contributions to the movie industry. The following year, however, Dolphy won the FAMAS best actor for Omeng Satanasia where he did multiple roles.
After getting cast as Dolphy’s leading lady, Azenith became the onscreen romantic interest to various male cinematic giants – Chiquito, Lito Lapid and even Fernando Poe, Jr. She had a year or so affair with Lito Lapid – most likely unaware that the future senator was already married then.
Azenith, however, will always consider Temptation Island as her favorite film. She appeared there with Dina Bonnevie, former Miss Universe delegate Jennifer Cortez, Bambi Arambulo, and Deborah Sun.
Although that original version flopped at the tills, Regal and GMA Films still remade it decades later. It was Marian Rivera who revived the character she originated. The remake was only slightly more financially successful than the original.
But still, Temptation Island remains iconic. Azenith Briones will forever be proud of it.
Azenith was raised in a simple, but loving home – forever doted on by her mother, now 88, who thought the world of her, being such a beautiful, beautiful child.
Although she was not exactly in want while growing up, Azenith always had a great business sense. She was the type to travel abroad and to recover her expenses (and even earn a little profit), she would buy merchandise during her trips and sell the items back in the Philippines to friends.
Azenith also sold jewelry – or anything that could make her money grow. There was a time she also made cured meat to sell – even if she had more than enough to get by.
Only a few years into show business, Azenith was able to purchase her own home – yes that house where she was supposedly abducted. She didn’t really stay there in the beginning because it was only Christopher de Leon who was lucky enough to get a telephone line (through PLDT connections) in the entire BF Homes subdivision.
The value of that property has since appreciated – especially after the neighborhood was given access to telephones. But who needs landlines today?
In 1986, Azenith married a childhood friend, Eleuterio Reyes, who stayed in America for a while. When he returned to the country, he courted Azenith and they got married in 1987. The union produced four kids.
Tragedy struck in June 2017. Azenith was bonding with her family at the Resorts World hotel and casino when a despondent man who obviously lost heavily in his gambling wielded a weapon and went on a shooting spree. But what killed some 38 people and injured 70 others was the fire started by this person. It was smoke from the burning carpets that led to the deaths of the victims.
Azenith and her husband were in different locations when the shooting and the arson began. Eleuterio was in the second floor casino with his friends, while Azenith waited it out in a restaurant.
She herself almost died in that Resorts World incident. Sadly, her husband was not as lucky. Eleuterio was already in a state of rigor mortis when Azenith saw his body.
The families of those who died were said to have been given compensations, although reportedly in varying amounts. Azenith received P50-M, but that has to be officially verified.
Although grieving, Azenith went on to pick up the pieces of her life. Since her late husband inherited a 5,000-plus square meter property in San Pablo, Laguna, she turned that into a private resort – with plans of improving it further so she may open it to the public and become another source of income.
Last June, she and another good friend, Jean Saburit, went to a beauty salon where she shared among those who cared to listen how disappointed she was over the fact that no one among her kids seems to be interested in running the resort and other businesses.
Friends had always been concerned about her lack of discretion when talking about her wealth. She has huge diamonds and so she wears them as she pleases. Azenith obviously believes in the saying: If you have it, flaunt it.
Does her supposed disappearance have anything to do with her wealth?
What’s disturbing are the posts of Isabel Rivas and Paul Macasiano that reveal Azenith’s friction within the family – mainly with her children. Their big quarrel is reportedly over money, properties and inheritance.
Isabel Rivas also wants to tell the world that her friend Azenith, at 67, is not into drugs and alcohol. She is not into gambling and is of perfect mental health. This is perhaps to dispel rumors being allegedly circulated by people close to Azenith that the former actress is a drug dependent who was said to have been put into rehab not so long ago by her own kids.
Azenith and Isabel actually had a schedule to meet each other last week. But what puzzles Isabel is the fact that Azenith had become incommunicado. Even her Facebook account had been taken down.
Azenith’s alleged disappearance is bound to be the biggest story of the week. But the question begging for an answer is – Who are the crooks behind her alleged abduction?
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