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Alba Iulia
Thursday, October 22, 2020

Mark Villa-Racho — A celebration of life, hope and creativity

An actor, writer, director, and community leader

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Born: 6 June 1953 | Died: 7 January 2019

We remember them in a thousand different ways.
In the morning, in the night,
When looking at the stars,
A date, A song, A place, A smell…

I was really shocked when I learned that Mark Villa Racho passed away. We were good friends for many years though we seldom saw each other due to our respective work and activities. He was a loving husband to Maria Racho and a caring father to Danielle.  I will always remember how fond he was with his little daughter when she was a baby. His angel. His cherub. His pride.

Mark Villa-Racho in early years
The wedding of Mark Villa-Racho and Maria Racho
The wedding of Mark and Maria Racho
Mark Villa-Racho with wife Maria and baby Dannielle.
Mark Villa-Racho with wife Maria and baby Dannielle.
L-R: Maria, Dani and Mark Villa-Racho.
L-R: Maria, Dani and Mark Villa-Racho.

I first met Mark Racho or Mark Villa Racho as he was popularly known at the meeting of the Filipino Community Council of Victoria Inc (FCCVI) at Ross House in 1988.  He was the council’s secretary then. During the break, I had the chance to talk to him. He told me that he was a writer and a stage actor in the Philippines. I was so happy that at last I had found someone who had the same interest like me.

Mark was a writer, a critic, a scriptwriter, a broadcaster, an actor, rolled into one.  We had worked together in some creative ventures way back in the mid-80s, 90s and early 2000s.

In 1990, we collaborated on a twin-bill production entitled DALAWA which was shown at Collingwood Education Theatre. He wrote and directed SOL AFTER DARK while I did WINTER’S CHILL.

Mark was the technical director of AUTUMN SONATA, a three-act play which was the initial production of Dulaang-Bayan Melbourne Inc (DBMI), a Filipino community theatre group. This play was staged at Darebin Entertainment Centre in 2000.

Mark was my co-writer in a comedy play KESEHODA that depicts the angst and trivialities of Filipino living abroad. Directed by Tekya Atwel, this production was shown at the Maribyrnong Secondary Theatre in 2001.  

Mark was one of the founders and writer of the Philippine Times. He was the first feature editor. For years, he had a column called GARDENLINE that featured local Australian flora.

For years, Mark, Princess  Melgarejo Navarro and I had a regular Friday morning program in Radio Filipino 92.3 FM called KULTURANG PINOY’ which had gained a lot of listeners for  its entertaining and educational qualities. We had such fun doing this show for it underscored the humorous and peculiar Filipino psyche and values.

I had fond memories working with Mark because he was a serious and conscientious worker with a keen sense for details.

I still remember when we were writing the script of KESEHODA where he would always remind me how a certain character would definitely talk and move and even the way they dress. We would have a long discussion about the plot, the dialogues and the scenes of the  play before incorporating them into the script.

In later years, Mark and I almost lost contact because of his long illness. It’s only through Facebook that we greet each other and sending messages of our activities and whereabouts. Most of his messages were a celebration of life, hope and creativity.

Physically, Mark might not be with us, but he has left us with indelible memories.

He will be missed, but will always be remembered.  

— Manny G. Asuncion
Werribee, Victoria, Australia

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