Film and Television Actor

June 20, 1955 – August 19, 2020

Teresita Aquino Gonzales, Tess to family and friends, was a film and television character actress who imbued her roles with warmth and gusto, and was beloved for her professionalism and can-do spirit.

She was born on 20 June 1955 in Cebu City to Leonardo and Josephine Aquino. She studied at the University of Manila, graduating in 1982 with a business management degree.

She was a housewife who somehow found her way to the movies. She was encouraging one of her daughters to pursue an acting career, but when the daughter decided to quit the rigorous auditioning process, she decided to pursue it herself until her persistence made people in the industry become aware of her acting chops.

Her first foray into film was in Joyce Bernal’s Paano Kita Iibigin [2007], which starred Regine Velasquez, Piolo Pascual, and Eugene Domingo, where she was billed as Tess Gonzales and played the role of Janet. It took a few years for her to be in film once more, finally appearing in 2013 in the British production, Metro Manila, directed by Sean Ellis, where she played JM Rodriguez’s mother. (It was the United Kingdom’s official submission to the foreign language film category at the 86th Academy Awards.) In 2015, she appeared in Gino M. Santos’s Ex with Benefits, where she played Derek Ramsay’s mother.

This led to a string of TV shows, including Dangwa [2015], Maalaala Mo Kaya [2015], Juan Happy Love Story [2016], Conan, My Beautician [2016], Hahamakin ang Lahat [2016], Karelasyon [2015-2017], D’Originals [2017], Nothing But the Bests! [2017], Wagas [2017], Haplos [2018], Tadhana [2018], Sahaya [2019], and Love You Two [2019], often in uncredited roles. She never said no to any project, whether if it was a teleserye or a movies, and she was known for always being on the go for anything.

She proved to be the consummate actor, professional to the end and kind to her colleagues. According to actor and producer Rener R. Concepcion, she was a calming presence during filming for Wagas with director Zig Dulay in Ilocos Norte: “Hindi ko malilimutan na sa free time, namili kami ni Tess sa palengke ng Laoag. Ang saya! Doon ko lalong nakilala si Tess, ang mabait na tao at mahusay na aktres na si Tess… Hindi ko na siya malilimutan. Napakabait at malambing.”

She died on 19 August 2020.

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