Manila: Following a nearly three-decade career in acting and modelling, a multi-award-winning Filipina actress is now a full-fledged Carmelite nun.
Chin Chin Gutierrez, at 50 years-old, now responds to the name Sister Lourdes Gutierrez of the Order of the Carmelite Nuns.
She had spent the past decade serving as a novitiate at the Carmelite Monastery in Quezon City.
But with a successful several years’ career in acting, what prompted Chin-Chin, Maria Carminia Lourdes Cynthia Gutierrez in real life, to leave her life in show business and take on the monastic path of a nun?
In 2006, she suddenly went off the nosy show business radar and took on a more low profile persona.
At the height of her career starring in television soap operas and her environmental advocacy, she lost her mother as fire gutted their house at Loyola Heights district in Quezon City.
She suffered injuries from that incident.
Four years after in 2010, another fire broke out in the same house.
Her career fell into hiatus as she picked up the pieces of what was left with her life. She vanished from show business.
News came out that she had become a novitiate at the Carmelite Monastery. Chin Chin had taken the same path of her late mother Cecilia Arnaldo, a Franciscan nun who left the monastic life as a novitiate to wed her father, Hermes Gutierrez, a botanist.
In an article, Chin Chin said the tragedies that befell her life made her more circumspect on what to do with her life.
“By the time I reached my college years … I had to confront the question of the existence of God in our philosophy class. Believe it or not, it actually touched a core in my being. While my mind is trying to convince myself and find proof that God does not exist does not God hear me and is anyone going to be responsible for my soul?’ He smiled and said, ‘Continue, continue.,” she said.
Philippine showbiz watchers would remember Chin Chin for one of the first roles she played as an actress in 1992, as “Maria Clara” the lovely, a daughter of a wealthy merchant in a national hero Jose Rizal’s opus, Noli Me Tangere.
Years into her show business career, her prowess in acting and striking looks landed her successive coveted local acting awards.
In 1996, she was given the "Best Actress" title in the first Asian Television award in 1996 and 1998 as Best Supporting Actress. She was also a model who graced the covers of magazines.
Even as her star shone brighter in acting, she took on advocacies such as protecting the environment.
According to a Facebook page put up by her friends, she had become a sought-after resource speaker and lecturer for environmental education, “lending her expertise to a broad range of issues related to ecology and conservation, like Ecological Waste Management, Sustainable Development, Ecology and Spirituality, The Integrity of Creation, Sustainable Consumer Lifestyles, Women and the Environment, among others.”
In 2003, she was named one of Time Magazine’s “Asian Heroes”, appearing on its cover and in 2004 she was awarded The Outstanding Women in Nation’s Service (TOWNS) Award for environmental advocacy.
In her new life as a nun, she explains that the decision was an “awakening.”
Throughout her decades-long career in show business, she had never married.
“‘You are entering something very interesting and beautiful. So pursue that even as you try to make the grade.’ For some reason I understood what he meant and that was, I think, the awakening of consciousness for me,” she said.