With the wealth amassed by Carmen Rosales in the span of her career in the local movies, it’s quite surprising that for an heir, Rene Navales had nothing to show except for an old portrait and a few trophies. “Nawala kasi yung mga gamit nung maglipat siya galing sa San Juan.”
Packed in crates, the paintings, wardrobes, shoes and religious items got lost along the way, from their San Juan home to Carmen’s new house in Greenpark, Pasig City. “Hindi naman talaga mysterious ang pagkawala. Pero off the record na lang kasi masyadong personal,” Rene begs in order to protect his family’s pride.
Most of Carmen’s earnings went to jewelries. “Yan kasi ang weakness niya, mga alahas. Yung diamond ring nga niya, The Rock ang tawag kasi…” Rene motions to turn off the camera. “Wag mo nang i-record ha?” He’s a bit embarrassed to be talking (on camera) about that huge diamond which was the envy of socialites at the time.
Rene Navales with the awards of Carmen Rosales
As for what was left of the inheritance, “Nag-one for you, one for me kami ni Cesar,” declares Rene as if to point out that everything was divided equally between him and his younger brother. Of course, Cesar, being a Puyat, had inherited more. “As I said, wala naman kaming pinagtalunan ni Cesar lalo na sa mana.”
Another sad part in Rene’s life was when Cesar contracted lung cancer. He passed away about ten years ago. “Ang tagal nga niya sa ospital,” says Rene with a cracking voice. Cesar was into morphine as a form of pain management and the long hospitalization had cost more than P5 million.
Cesar, who used to work with the bowling lanes and billiard business of the Puyats, was long estranged from his wife. “Balita ko sa asawa ni Cesar, namatay na rin daw.” Cesar was survived by a son, Jose Beebom, but Rene had lost communication when Cesar passed away. “Wala akong balita kung nasaan na yang anak ni Cesar. The last I know, nagtatrabaho yata sa call center.”
Back to Carmen, Rene recalls that his mother was very professional in her career. “Hindi nale-late yan sa shooting.” She makes it a point to be fully prepared the night before. For her transportation, Carmen relied on La Mallorca, the ubiquitous yellow taxicab of the olden times. “Isang tawag lang ni Ermat, dating agad ang taxi.”
When he got a driver’s license, Rene served as Carmen’s personal driver for a time. Asked if he didn’t have a desire to be an actor, Rene confides, “Mahirap ang artista. Nakikita ko sa shooting, hindi basta-basta. Dapat talaga may talent ka. Hindi ko kaya ang ginagawa nila.”
Carmen had already memorized her script when she arrives on the set. “Yan ang isang talent niya, hindi siya nagbabasa ng script.” Carmen lets someone read the script to her and she takes it from there.
“If I remember correctly, yung movie niyang Battalion Trece ang unang may kulay, technicolor na movie.” That movie starred Carmen with Alfonso Carvajal and Joseph De Cordova. It was written by Eddie Romero.
An item worth knowing in the discreet lovelife of Carmen was his affair with Leopoldo Salcedo. “Naging boyfriend niya si Pol,” Rene states with a smile as if saying that her mother had loved Leopoldo Salcedo more than the other men in her life. Leopoldo was called “the great profile” for his charm with women.
The son of Carmen Rosales on camera
More on the family life, Carmen’s sons had been close to her when they were adolescents. “Hindi na kasi very hectic ang schedule niya kaya madalas naming makasama.” That closeness posed a problem when Rene and his brother got married.
“May konting selos si Ermat sa mga asawa namin. Pero civil naman siya kaya hindi halata,” Rene chuckles, a hint that Carmen sometimes had mischiefs done to her manugangs. But far from being a monster-in-law, Carmen was a doting grandmother to her son’s children.
Rene and Chit San Jose have 3 boys. “Yung eldest ko ang favorite ni Ermat. Spoiled nga kasi unang apo. Lahat ng gusto ibinibigay.” John, who presently resides in Greenhills, has 2 daughters with Annie, their eldest Nicole had just graduated from college. John has been employed with PLDT for 19 years.
Rene’s second son, Jovy, is still single and lives with them. “Siya ang nag-aasikaso dito sa bahay pati sa mga negosyo namin,” says Rene of his dutiful son who had many girlfriends but avoided getting married. The Mr. Donut booth in front of Mandaluyong Catholic Church is Jovy’s personal business.
James, the third son, is in the US for more than 10 years now. He had married an American and is already settled there. “Hindi na uuwi yun. Sayang nga kasi na-hysterectomy yung asawa ni James. Nakakatuwa sanang magka-apo ng merong blue-eyes, di ba?”
It’s surprising to know that Carmen Rosales has relatives in the movies. “Si Vilma Santos, pamangkin niya, relative din niya si Sylvia La Torre, si Charito Solis, pati si Liberty Ilagan, pamangkin ni Ermat.” He also mentioned Tanya Garcia who is the live-in partner of Mark Lapid.
For her co-stars, Carmen was close to Fernando Poe, Jr. and Rosa Mia. “Madalas silang magkita ni FPJ sa boutique ni Rosanna Ortiz. Every Saturday yun.” But Carmen’s favorite star in the new generation is Sharon Cuneta.
Carmen loved guns. “Sharpshooter yan lalo na sa forty-five,” boasts Rene. Carmen learned to shoot when she went to the mountains during the second world war. She stayed in Silang and Santa Rosa.
“Pinatawag kasi siya ng isang Japanese captain. Pinagagawa ng movie na kontra Pilipino.” Feeling insulted, Carmen slapped the captain. That was reason enough for her to join the guerilla movement in Cavite.
Rene called his mother Munding while his brother Cesar used the word Mamita for their own pet names to their mother. “Kaya dun sa epitaph niya,” says Rene, “ipinalagay ko yung Munding.” That came from Arimunding-munding, the first blockbuster of Carmen Rosales way back in 1938 with Jose Padilla, Jr. as her leading man.
Carmen Rosales had made around 65 movies, all in starring roles. But with the sad state of film archiving in the Philippines, Rene laments, “Siguro wala na yun lahat. Hindi na mapapanood ng mga tao.”
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