The Legend of Tessie Agana Book

The Legend of Tessie Agana: Beloved Child Star of the Philippines
An Intimate Portrait of My Mother

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Release Date:
Sept. 20, 2023

As the daughter and granddaughter of world-famous entertainers from the Philippines’ Golden Age of cinema, Mylene Agana Jao Richardson was born into a family of legends. Tessie Agana, Mylene’s mother, and Linda Estrella, her grandmother, were the nation’s iconic mother/daughter film star duo of the 1950s, starring in approximately 40 films collectively, and winning the hearts of countless fans worldwide.

The Legend of Tessie Agana is the fascinating life story of two separate yet inextricably connected film careers, and the personal choices behind them, as told in loving detail by Mylene.

Mylene shows how you can maximize your happiness by discovering to truly know oneself, the journey forward is to look back. As the author learns more about her famous mother, Tessie Agana, she experiences her own voyage of self-discovery, providing a lens into her own motherhood and dreams. To connect with her mom, Tessie, who, today lives with dementia, Mylene listens to her mother’s stories of yesteryear, and their candid discussions, shown in this book, break barriers between mother and daughter that rebuilds a more fulfilling relationship by learning to embrace the past and celebrate the now.

In this debut book, Mylene presents a touching personal journey honoring Tessie Agana, affectionately deemed as “The Nation’s Little Sweetheart,” and known as the “Shirley Temple of the Philippines.” With unsparing truth, Mylene offers the first intimate portrait of her mother, whose early fame and exposure to the public eye led to dark shadows that impacted her entire life.

Full of behind-the-scenes anecdotes, this story transitions to personal narratives of Tessie’s adult struggles. Woven into this introspective theme are the complexities of family dynamics, depression, and isolation, showing how in Tessie’s life, a spiral of love, mental health, and pain lurked behind a charmed façade. Family and Filipino traditions provide the beat to every step.

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“It’s rare for a daughter to put into poignant prose the travails and triumphs of her mother. It is rarer still for a mother to view her entire life through the prism of her beloved offspring. Yet, this is the lyrical brilliance of this jewel of a book, The Legend of Tessie Agana.”

Gina Vera-Perez De Venecia, Humanitarian, former Congresswoman in the Philippines

“Her (Tessie Agana’s) ascension to the movie world was such a great blessing because she revived the industry that was almost buried in oblivion. Her example as an actress, a friend, and a mother is admirable and should serve as an inspiration to all those who dream to succeed in life and be given the opportunity to show their talents at any time that we can read in this wonderful book created by her passionate daughter, Mylene.”

Renz Spangler, Author and Advocate of Classic Philippine Cinema
Mylene Richardson

Mylene Richardson

Mylene Agana Jao Richardson was born in Manila, Philippines, and is the sixth of nine children (six boys and three girls) from Tessie Agana Jao and Dr. Rodolfo Jao. Although she grew up in Indiana, her trips back to the Philippines are her most memorable family vacations. Mylene currently lives in Arizona, with her husband Andy, and their two sons, Chapman and Harris.


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