He was born Cipriano Cermeño II on December 5, 1955. His ambition in life was to be an actor. Together with childhood friend Woodrow Serafin, he ventured in live stage shows in their provinces, not really for the money but more for the fun.
Migrating to Manila in the fulfillment of his dream, he exerted a lot of efforts and patience. After a year of chasing his dream, his break came about when he was called to Broadcast City by Bert De Leon, the director of Iskul Bukol.
Woodrow Serafin, Redford White’s best friend
With his resemblance to the American actor, he was dubbed Redford by Direk Bert and Joey De Leon contributed his surname based on his complexion. He was cast as the poker-faced food server in the carinderia near the school.
Redford would be trading humorous barbs with Tito, Vic and Joey, the famous students of Wanbol University. His naivete was naturally funny in his clashes with Mang Temi, the cranky carinderia owner played by Bing Angeles.
Redford’s curt and subtle style of comedy instantly appealed to the tv viewers. As one Iskul Bukol fanatic said, “Hindi pilit ang patawa ni Redford. Malalim ang joke niya pero pag nakuha mo ay talagang tatawa ka.”
His trademark was that innocent-looking face coupled with his Visayan accent. That “tanga-tangahan” bearing earned for him a bigger space in Philippine television. From Iskul Bukol, he branched out to other sitcoms.
Lasting for five years in RPN-9’s Buddy En Sol, with Eric Quizon, was a great success that it was complemented with two movie versions in 1992. The first one was Buddy En Sol Sine Ito and the sequel was Buddy En Sol Praybeyt Depektibs.
With his popularity in television, it was expected for Redford to cross over to the movies. His name appears in the credits of more than 40 movies. Notable was Boni & Klayd, his first starring role opposite the sexy Pia Moran. Another title roler was Darakula in 1982.
Production people say that Redford was his quiet self during tapings and shootings. He would be sitting in a corner and reading a book while waiting for his take. His shy character on the screen was also his personality in real life.
Redford with wife Elena and daughter Jeruie in one of their travels abroad
Amid the fame, only a few were privy to Redford’s personal life. Even Vic Sotto was surprised upon seeing his home during the wake. Vic was quoted to have said to Richie, “Tingnan mo ang naipundar ni Redford, ikaw puro kaso lang ang naipundar mo.”
The church of Sto.Niño De Maligaya stands on a 3,000 sqm property in Maligaya Park, Caloocan City. Aside from Redford’s two-bedroom house beside the church, there are 11 other houses in the compound occupied by relatives and close friends, rent-free.
The altar of Sto. Niño De Maligaya church
Also, there are more than 70 live-in scholars under the aegis of the SNDM Foundation headed by Redford and his wife Elena. That means they handle the school expenses plus board and lodging, not to mention the guidance they provide to their wards.
For authentic cultural influence – so that the scholars would not forget the past – there’s a couple of artesian wells and cooking is done in brick ovens with firewood. It is a must for scholars to learn household chores and basic house repairs.
The foundation also spearheads relief missions to provinces hit by calamities. Usually manned by the present and past scholars, the work involves packaging and distribution of food and basic necessities. The budget mostly comes from the donations of members.
As a clear sign of success, the spiritual mission has extended to Guam and Canada. A church is being constructed in Edmonton and Toronto while the Guam congregation had their church finished last year. Photos are available in www.sndmfamily.multiply.com.
The spiritual mission started when a friend gifted Redford with a Sto. Niño that later turned out to be miraculous. Elena, fondly called Sister Len, was bestowed with the power of healing.
Redford’s close friends Engr. Petronio Bragado, Engr. Wilfredo Santos and Simon Serrano, a past scholar
There used to be hundreds of patients lining up the church where the healing lasts until nighttime. But Sister Len had recently ended the regular healing sessions although she still does some healing on special occasions.
Every 2nd and 4th Sundays, mass is celebrated in the Sto. Niño De Maligaya church that is frequented by more than 500 parishioners. The mass is followed by lunch and culminates in a fellowship affair until night.
People haven’t heard of his good deeds maybe because Redford shunned interviews and pictorials. Close friends say that he had wanted to maintain his privacy so that his family would have a normal life. Obviously, he succeeded.
Jeruie, Redford’s Unica Hija, says that she didn’t really feel any advantage of being the daughter of a known comedian. She also hadn’t noticed the absence of Redford (during shootings) when she was young. “Kasi lahat naman ng hilingin ko , ibinibigay niya.”
Jeruie Cermeño, Redford’s pretty daughter
Redford was an ideal husband, so loving and faithful, and a doting father. But he was also as human as he could be. He’s a more than moderate smoker and an occasional drinker. And he loved to while away the time in the lanai by chatting with people close to him.
He’s got a vast collection of horse figurines and saintly images. His love of gardening made him a collector of wood slabs and rocks and boulders that he used for decorating the surroundings of his property. He also loved traveling – locally or abroad.
Redford White’s souvenir t-shirt
On July 25, 2010, the actor responded to the final curtain call. Countless of people were devastated by the sad news. Friends from abroad came home. There were 17 priests and a bishop that participated in the nine masses offered during the wake.
The long stretch of the funeral motorcade made one think that Redford would have been a good political material. But like media attention, he also avoided politics.
Redford White may not an angel but, by all standards, he’s definitely a saint.
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