THIS GONZALES GIRL. Budding beauty Elvira Pamintuan Gonzales, in her early years in showbiz. She held many beauty titles but nothing as precious as being the mother of 1993 Miss Universe finalist Charlene Gonzales.
Elvira Gonzales, the beauty queen-turned actress who would one day become the mother of another world-class beauty, Charlene Gonzales, was born on 27 September 1947 to parents Perfecto Gonzales and Aurora Pamintuan.
The Pamintuans were a large Kapampangan clan with Angeles origins, to which Elvira belonged. The Pamintuans, under the patriarch Don Florentino Torres Pamintuan, were an influential family in Pampanga, and their historic mansion still stands today, the site of the inauguration of the first Philippine Republic.
The Manila family of Elvira, however, was more modest; she and her parents resided in busy Sta. Cruz, along G. Camarines street. Elvie’s beauty was apparent at a young age, and she wasn’t even 16 when she joined a beauty tilt sponsored by the biggest dance program on television in 1963—Dance-O-Rama. She clinched the title and was soon on her way to collecting more beauty crowns.
She signed up for the 1st ever Bb. Pilipinas Beauty Pageant in 1964 and when all the votes had been counted, she found herself in third place, behind Kapampangan winner Myrna Panlilio of San Fernando. After the contest, she went back to school at the University of Santo Tomas.
Elvie was again, prevailed upon by her friends and talent agents to enter the 1965 Miss Press Photography of the Philippines, a nationwide competition launched by the leading association of photographers in the country. Previous winners and candidates had used this pageant as a stepping stone to greater fame in showbiz, like Mila Ocampo (Snooky Serna’s mother), Cynthia Ugalde (she would later win Miss Philippines and compete in the 1962 Miss International) and Helen Gamboa (another Kapampangan who would rise to stardom as a song-and-dance star of the ‘60s). This time, Elvie surprised everyone—including herself—by romping off with the crown.
Feeling more prepared, she decided to join again the premiere beauty search for the Philippine representative to the Miss Universe, that same year. By then, Elvie was 18 and a 3rd Year Foreign Service student at the University of Manila. Competition, however, more was formidable at the 1965 Bb. Pilipinas, with Ilongga beauties prevailing, led by eventual winner Louis Vail Aurelio. Still, Elvie placed a respectable 5th.
It was only a matter of time that the movies beckoned, and in 1967, she was signed up to do a lightweight movie that was right down her alley, "Together Again", with Rico Roman, supporting Nida Blanca and Romano Castelvi. This was quickly followed by “Let’s Go Merry Go Round” and "Crackdown". The next year, she had two movies released, “Hari ng Slums”and “Siete Dolores”. It was in showbiz that Elvie met the current toast of action movies, Bernard Bonnin (b. 8 Sept. 1939/ d. 21 Nov. 2009). The handsome Negrense had originated the role of “Palos” in 1961, for which he became well-known for. He would do a string of “Palos”movies and even a counterpart “Palos” TV series as late as 2008.
Elvie and Bernard were soon married and two children were born of this union: Richard Bonnin and Charlene Mae. Their marriage ended when the children were still young, and Elvie married again, this time, to Jose Vera-Perez in civil rites, in 1972. She then retire from showbiz permanently, didviding her time between the Philippines and the U.S.
In 1993, daughter Charlene came home to join the Bb. Pilipinas Beauty Pageant, the same contest Elvie competed in, 28 years before. Charlene was the same age as Elvie when she copped the plum title of Bb. Pilipinas-Universe. At the Miss Universe tilt held in Manila that same year, Charlene paid homage to her mother Elvie and her legacy of beauty that she too had pursued with more success. She placed among the Top 6 finalists, in the contest won by India’s Sushmita Sen. Today, the Gonzaleses are settled contentedly in retirement in the U.S. Charlene, Elvie’s daughter, Charlene, is married to to movie hearth throb Aga Muhlach, and is a is a proud mother of two.