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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 4, 2023



ASHLEY DIAZ is the daughter of Joko Diaz who was  introduced by Viva in the TV series “Di Na Muli”. 

She is 19 years old and is now given the leading role in the horror movie, “Mary Cherry Chua”, written and directed by Roni S. Benaid, a creative supervisor in Viva who has previously helmed the horror flick, “Poon”, which starred Glydel Mercado. 

The movie is based on a popular urban legend that has been heard around for many years now. Mary is said to be an intelligent young student who was raped and killed by the school janitor. 

It is said that her spirit still wanders in the school premises.

In 2003, a horror story about Mary Cherry Chua was published in the 2nd book of “True Philippine Ghost Stories”. 

In 2017, Viva released a pop-fiction book about Mary Cherry Chua. And now, we have a new retelling on screen of this famous school urban legend.   

In the movie, Mary Cherry Chua is played by Abby Bautista and she’s a student in a prestigious school in the 1960s. 

She’s known as Miss Popular as she is beautiful with long black hair, rich, cheerful and smart, so she is both adored and envied by other students in their school. 

Then one day, she is found dead in the campus grounds, a victim of rape and murder.

Years later, Ashley Diaz as Karen, a student who is fascinated with horror stories and urban legends, becomes so intrigued by the story of Mary Cherry Chua that she decides to do her own investigation about her death and discover more evidence about the crime.

With the help of friends and classmates, she manages to obtain new information about the case, but little did she know that as she digs deeper looking for truth, she may also have been digging her own grave as she uncovers a deep dark secret that could put her own life at great risk. 

Karen is Ashley Diaz’ first lead role and she’s thankful to Viva for giving her this big break. Does she somehow feel pressured? 

 “There will always be pressure naman po sa bawat project, pero iba po talaga kasi kapag first lead mo. tapos solo ka pa. 

"But it’s all up to you how to take yung pressure, positively or negatively. 

"With me, I’m taking it positively by challenging myself to give my best as Karen. Pinaka-challenging na ginawa ko for this role is that I had my hair cut. 

"Kasi it took many years bago ko napahaba yung buhok ko, pero for the role of Ashley, I was asked to cut it short and worth it naman.” 

Since the movie is about ghosts, does she believe in them? 

“Yes, I do believe in ghosts, but wala pa akong personal experience na nakakita ako ng multo.

" But I believe in the stories of people who have told me about their own terrifying experiences with the supernatural.” 

And what advice has Joko given to his daughter so far? 

“I’m a proud father kasi I can see na magaling siya at matalino,” says Joko. 

“I’m not a stage father. I just tell her to always be professional, don’t be late on the set. Try to be nice to everyone but also enjoy her work.”  

We ask Ashley how is it working with her father? 

“I enjoyed working with my dad. I know he’s always there to guide and support me but hindi niya ako dinidiktahan. He allows me to explore things on my own.”

Supporting them in the movie are Kokoy De Santos as Paco (Karen’s cowardly research partner), Lyca Gairanod as Faith (Karen’s supportive best friend), 

Krissha Viaje as Lena (Karen’s protective sister) and with the special participation Ms. Alma Moreno as Ms. Estrella, who will give crucial information about Mary Cherry Chua’s death. 

Direk Roni expresses his appreciation for the cast and their professionalism 

“Lahat sila cooperative, tinutulungan nila akong maituro ko sa kanila or masabi ko sa kanila yung intention ng character sa bawat eksena.” 

Dare to speak her name and find out about her real story. “Mary Cherry Chua”, a horror shocker to terrify viewers in cinemas nationwide this July 19, 2023.