If there’s one word to describe a typical Eigenmann, it’d be wild. As Gabby Eigenmann puts it, “All emotions are usually present when we’re all together: happy, sad, angry—everything!” With the members of the show business clan busy with their own careers and families, reunions can get difficult to plan, but everyone sees to it that a get-together must happen three months or so. “Sometimes it happens batch by batch, but three months of not seeing each other is actually a little too long already,” Cherie Gil muses. “But whenever we meet, there’s always memorable stories to tell. What usually happens is there are different [circles of people]: on this side, someone’s sharing a happy story, and on the other, it’s about drama. Maiingay sila lahat.”
Expressing emotions freely is something to be expected from such a creative clan. And with three generations firmly entrenched in show business, it seems but natural that the youngest Eigenmanns would follow suit. If holiday gatherings are any indication, they’re well on their way into the spotlight. “The littler kids tend to just come out and perform,” Cherie says. “That part came from us, because [when we were younger] we’d always prepare a dance and a song. We’d always put on a show.” An old family video of Andi and Maxene (Andi and Gabby’s sister) doing a dance has now been watched by their kids. “Massi, Maxene’s son, would also just dance and copy my dad [Eddie Mesa] doing the Elvis Presley, which is another hand-me-down,” Cherie continues. “And my [late] brother Mark had also loved to imitate dad. Gabby, too—lahat sila! They all had the Elvis Presley factor.”
It’s not all fun times, though. Since actor Mark Gil died in 2014, Eigenmann get-togethers have taken on a more poignant significance. “Dad is like the family glue, especially after he passed away,” Andi reflects. “Now, there’s really more of an effort from everyone to really be together. We know that’s what he would want.” “When he was still with us, he always had that desire [for everyone to be complete],” Cherie adds. “He had the most children among us, six of them, and he didn’t get to see them often, so I tried to help facilitate the fulfilment of that wish.” She would usually set up the theme, the place, and the decor, and Mark would bring the food and the festive spirit.
It’s a tradition that lives on, with the younger generations taking the reins. “Organizing [gatherings] is now Andi’s responsibility,” Cherie half-jokes to her niece. More than the details and logistics, though, it’s the spirit of closeness that they all want to preserve, with the family getting bigger. “We make it a point that we bond, since all the youngest kids are growing up too fast,” Gabby remarks. “When we were growing up, we’d have family gatherings here and there too, but they took too long in between. So we missed out on those, although we’re all very close to each other. That’s what we want to pass on the kids, that kind of relationship.”