By Pablo S. Gomez
( Second of two parts )
FPJ was a loving and caring husband. Whenever on location, he called his wife three or more times a day. On special occasions, he would hire singers or musicians to serenade his wife whom he fondly called Inday.
He was a loving son too. He would call his mother (Bessie Kelly Poe) every morning when she was still alive to ask her how she feels. He usually consulted her on everything. This was his way of checking up on his mother.
When FPJ’s father, Fernando Poe Sr., died because of rabies, his mother Bessie decided to make a movie in honor of his name so that people will always remember what a great actor he was. The title of that movie was Anak ni Palaris. She was also the one who convinced her son to use Fernando Poe Jr. as his official name. During this time, FPJ and his family would transfer and live from one house to another. Their house at P. Guevarra street in Manila even burned down.
The problems of his brothers and sisters were his problems too. He always cared for them. Even his nieces and nephews looked up to him as a father figure.
He was a homebody. He loved reading and watching VCDs or DVDs of movies, which his sisters Vangie and Jenny regularly sent him from abroad. He had a very sharp mind. Because of his love for reading, he was like an open history book, knowing all important personages in history.
He was easy to please. One time I brought him a piece of chicken pie and he was very happy about it, saying it will be his lunch. In return when you prepared to go home, there was something for you from him.
There was a time when I visited him in Antipolo. He showed me the improvement he made on his garden. He was basically shy. He was more comfortable within the circle of his trusted friends. He didn’t attend parties. If you invited him, he always made excuses. But there were times that he would surprise you. He would just appear in your party.
I remember when the late Director Pablo Santiago and his wife Cielito Legaspi renewed their marriage vows during their 38 th year of marriage. FPJ was talking with then Vice-President Joseph Estrada. I was standing across the street. They crossed the street and approached me.
“Pabling, you never grow old,” the Vice-President told me. “Ron, do you know that he is the writer of my first movie Kandilang Baka l?
“Really?,” said the surprised Ronnie. Deep inside, I felt happy and flattered that Joseph remembered.
During story conferences, Ronnie showed his versatility. He readily knew what is wrong in the story. He immediately recognized a good title when he heard one.
When he had no title for a project, he would send for me and asked to submit one. I would submit ten titles. He would pick one and it would later turn out to be the best title possible, usually turning the film into a blockbuster. Some of these were Bato sa Buhangin, Hindi Pa Tapos ang Laban, Probinsyano, Dalubhasa and many more. Sometimes he would show up in my house even at the wee hours of the night. He would sit down with me and listen to soft music. Then he would tell me to call Susan and tell her that he is with me. A loyal and loving husband, he always thought of Susan. He bought things for her whenever he was in location. Even at home, he would order food that he wanted, but he will just taste a little of it. Hence, Susan had to finish it off, the reason why she gained the extra weight
He had so many dreams that were never fulfilled. One of his pet projects was a movie to be shot in the States co-starring him with Anthony Quinn.
Before he passed away, Ronnie asked someone in the studio to look for me. He wanted to see me, Unfortunately, it did not happen. Before the night was over, Ronnie, bade goodbye to the world, leaving fond memories that I will treasure forever….
Pablo S. Gomez is the present president of the Screenwriters’ Guild of the Philippines