Aug 23
Da King and I by Pablo Gomez  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Tue, Aug 23, 2011

(We decided to reprint two website articles on Mr. Fernando Poe Jr. or FPJ to commemorate t his 72nd birth anniversary last Saturday, August 20. A Year After appeared on Dec. 12, 2005 and Da King and I appeared in two installments on April 26 and May 3. 2005—Editor)

When Susan Roces was still a Sampaguita studio star, I wrote Susanang Daldal which made her a big star. That started our friendship. We would go out together, did things together and talked about anything under the sun. When she got married to FPJ, we drifted apart. I was busy with my publications and she, as a housewife to FPJ.

And then one day, she called up inquiring if I have any movie material for FPJ. I said I only write drama, horror and comedy. Though I have some action stories for the comics. “I would like to see that,” she said.

When she came, I gave her the copies of my serialized action stories. Kampana sa Santa Quiteria, Esteban, and Alupihang Dagat. The next morning, she called again saying that FPJ loved the stories and would buy them for filming. That started it. I became an action writer for FPJ. He took me as his scriptwriter and since then, I wrote more than one hundred movies for him. Some are well remembered, like Pitong Gatang, Dalubhasa, Anak ng Tondo, Alupihang Dagat, Manager… Si Kumander, Bato Sa Buhangin, Hindi Pa Tapos ang Laban, to name a few… and throughout those years, I was able to observe the real FPJ in person and as a movie star.

I learned early that FPJ also worked as a stuntman for Everlasting Pictures and he also acted as the double of actor Johnny Monteiro in several of his movies. Sometimes he would also appear with actress Corazon Rivas in several stage shows.

I remember when Corazon Rivas (FPJ’s leading lady in his Lo Waist Gang movies) returned from abroad to take a vacation, Ronnie prepared a special reunion party for her and called up the remaining members of the original Lo Waist Gang. She was able to see and talk to them, most of them she hasn’t seen or spoken to in years. Cora cried tears of joy during the reunion. She was taken completely by surprise and realized how FPJ really cherished their friendship and how important this was to him. Her wish had finally come true—that she would one day return to the Philippines and have the chance to be reunited with her co-stars.

He was a gentleman, he did not like people to gossip about others, especially in the movie industry. On the first shooting day of any of his pictures, he would treat his leading lady like a queen. Fresh flowers were presented to her, plus the down payment of her contract. He would lavish her with her favorite food, which surprised her to no end. Then she was sent home to rest, no shooting for her. This is one of the reasons why his leading ladies loved and admired FPJ.

He did not allow his former leading ladies to appear in cameo roles, supporting roles or mother roles. “Respect my stars,” he would say. “She is my leading lady in one of my pictures. And I don’t want her to be seen in a minor role”

As a director, he used the monicker Ronwaldo Reyes. He woke up very early. His writers and assistant directors were always with him. He used to talk and discuss his shooting schedules, he walked through plains, hills and even mountains for hours and when he was done, he went back to the hot steaming coffee that turned cold waiting for him. He ate sparingly, he was fond of preparing food for his guests and friends. He was a very good cook. His favorite was “ginisang pink salmon with alugbati”or “inihaw na tilapia”, wrapped in aluminum with tomatoes, onions, pepper and very little salt. He didn’t like seasonings like patis, toyo etc.

He was comfortable eating with his crew. While sharing food with them, he discussed the details of his movie. He was meticulous. He wanted his writers to be alert to all the details of the script and always advised them to go thru the script over and over again. He was always making sure that everything is impeccable. He preferred shooting in different locations to show the scenic spots of the country.

When doing a movie, he saw to it that most of the stuntmen and goons are included in the casting. His reason: they have their own families to feed and they almost always need help.

He loved to hear jokes. FPJ enjoyed good humor. That was why Amay Bisaya became close to him. And also Philip Salvador and Director Rudy Meyer who were his closed friends for so many years.

FPJ is happy when he makes one or two movies a year. But when the Christmas season is just around the corner, he would call us up and tell us that he needs our help in making another movie. We would meet and think of a story and immediately began shooting even if it would take us one whole day to finish several scenes for the movie. He would do this so that the movie crew, the actors and actresses would have money to spend during the Christmas season. We would then take time out for the holidays and return to the set of the movie next year in January to resume filming.

For those who didn’t know the real FPJ, they were wary of him, believing what other people said about him. He didn’t drink hard liquor. He loved talking to his friends with a bottle of beer in his hand, nursing it through the night. Before he packed up, he made sure that the waiters and friends who sat down with him are taken care of.

He was a very good singer. Yet when he recorded his songs for some of his movies, he took a little shot of wine to steady his nerves.

He always sent help to his colleagues who were in need and refused to talk about his generosity openly. He was a very close, personal friend who would ask for nothing in return for the good things he did. After he filmed a San Miguel beer commercial in Barangay Papaya in Nasugbu, Batangas, he donated a school building that now houses the Papaya Elementary School to the townfolks. It turned out that nobody asked FPJ to donate a school building to the people of Barangay Papaya and he did it on his own.

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 38th 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 Bakal?

“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.
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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….


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