Becoming Martha Cecilia
Martha Cecilia was born Maribeth de la Cruz y Hamoy in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Sur. She came to Manila and finished college at the University of the East, then entered the corporate world, starting out as a company secretary. She then got married and raised a family.
In the early 90s, a new publishing format emerged: the Tagalog pocketbook. Maribeth thought she could write, and so she joined other wannabe writers in a fledgling publishing house based in Bulacan. But there, she was “just one” of the writers.
Then in 1994, she found herself joining a stable of new writers put up by the then promising publishing company: the Precious Pages Corporation (or more known now as PPC). PPC specialized in romance, so they encouraged their writers to give their all in romance writing. That’s what Maribeth did and Martha Cecilia, the Romance Diva, was born. The pen name was taken from the name of one of her daughters.
Becoming the Romance Diva
Martha proved her mettle in the romance genre, writing under PPC’s various book brands: Precious Hearts Romances; GEMS; My Love, My Hero; My Lovely Bride; PHR Classics; All-Time Favorites; Secrets; Monte Falco; and PHR Gothic Romance.
In so short a time, she made a name—and would eventually emerge as a pioneer in Tagalog romance within the Pinoy pop culture.
But it was her collection, Sweetheart Series, that cemented her popularity and status as a romance writer to be reckoned with. A second series, Kristine, confirmed it, with her emerging as the undisputed number one romance writer among all Tagalog pocketbook writers in the country. For this, she earned the title Romance Diva. Supportive and die-hard fans, perhaps legions of them, in the country and even abroad, called themselves Eirycats.
While Sweetheart Series had 19 books, Kristine had 53 (under 33 titles). Overall, however, during her 20-year stint with PPC, Martha Cecilia wrote more than a hundred titles of varying lengths, no doubt a feat for a writer.
In December 2009, in what was considered a new trend in TV production, ABS-CBN aired the pilot episode of the TV series Precious Hearts Romances Presents, featuring the adaptation of no less than Martha Cecilia’s My Cheating Heart, from the Sweetheart Series. This was promptly followed by seven other adaptations of her works, another feather to her cap: Impostor; Midnight Phantom; Kristine; Lumayo Ka Man Sa Akin; The Substitute Bride; You’re Mine, Only Mine; and Araw Gabi.
With that accomplishment, Martha Cecilia was made. She was an icon—up to the very end.*
Celebrating 26 Years
It has been 26 years since Martha Cecilia published her first novel with PPC, Akin ka Noon, Ngayon at Magpakailanman—26 years since she began affecting romance readers’ perspective on love and romance, 26 years of impacting lives with the continued publication of her novels.
For all of her accomplishments and contributions to the Tagalog pocketbook industry, PPC has declared this month of October as Marta Cecilia Month.
And to celebrate it, and as tribute to the beloved author, a set of her newly printed books are on sale at the Precious Pages Bookstore, Precious Express, and Precious Negosyo, as well as on the official Shopee and Lazada stores of Precious Pages and Precious Pages physical stores—with BIG DISCOUNTS!
*Martha Cecilia succumbed to cancer on 8 December 2014 in Meycauayan City, Bulacan. But despite her absence during the past six years, she has remained in the midst of her fans and readers through her legacy of books.