“The Philippine Movie Press Photographers Association was celebrating its anniversary in the year 1987 and Kuya Germs had announced in his GMA Supershow that my revered idol would grace the event. For 50 pesos, one could have a photo opportunity and so together with my family, we rushed to the newly constructed SM City at North EDSA. People were already lining up when we got there but we patiently waited. When a commotion started, I knew that the guest of honor had arrived. It was the first time I saw my idol and the feeling was like I was facing an entity larger than life. I made an effort to shake her hand and, boy, it was the smoothest and whitest hand I ever touched. I did it not once but twice!
“When it was finally my turn for the pictorial, I whispered to her ear, and these were my exact words – you are so beautiful, I’ve always wanted to see you in person ever since. With a radiant smile, Susan Roces replied with a soft thank you. Unfortunately my eyes turned half-closed when the camera took the shot and I got to know of the disaster only when the prints were released by the mall a few days after. But nevertheless, it was the best and most treasured 5″ x 7″ colored photo that I have.”
– The most treasured photo with his idol taken in 1987
Bing Manalo is no ordinary movie fan and he doesn’t like to be called a fan because he prefers the moniker Loyal Follower although he seems to be more of a devotee. Aside from collecting pictures and clippings about Susan, Bing had shown his dedication by promoting Susan’s movies to his friends and classmates. “One time a relative told me that she saw a picture of Susan in Plaza Fair, Cubao. I immediately asked my aunt to bring me there just to see that picture, thinking that I could buy it. But it turned out to be part of the department store’s display.“
And now in this digital age, Bing dutifully maintains not one but two websites for Susan Roces: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Susan_Roces and http://susanroces.friendpages.com. Both contain an array of photos and articles plus a sort of a forum for members. Those websites connect him to other Susan Roces fans. He was surprised to learn that Susan has fans in the younger generation.
“I want to see a complete website of her. All information about her should be in that website from filmography, nominations, awards, etc. Whether its me or another fan will create the website doesn’t matter, I am even willing to donate all the photos and articles I have of her. What’s important is it will be a complete one, sort of a one-stop-shop website.”
It all started when Bing was in his elementary years. After watching Student Canteen during lunch time, he would waive his siesta privileges in order to watch old Sampaguita and LVN movies in Sine Siete. “Iba ang dating ng old movies, iba ang texture. The black & white film made it classic and endearing for me. Akala ko nga noon, na nung panahon nila, puro black and white lang ang movies.” At first, Bing was hooked on the story and the presentation of the movie. Later he was enamored with the beautiful faces of the movie stars. such that he can now be considered a walking Almanac of Philippine movies. “I became so familiar with Carmen Rosales, Rosa del Rosario, Mila del Sol, Norma Blancaflor, Rogelio dela Rosa, Leopoldo Salcedo, Jose Padilla, Gloria Romero, Nida Blanca, Charito Solis, Amalia Fuentes, Liberty Ilagan. Name it and I would recall them, I know all of them.” Thus did Bing become a walking Almanac of Philippine movies.
Susan Roces became the focus of Bing’s klieg lights in the early 1980s via Susan’s weekly drama anthology Panahon over BBC Channel 2. Bing still remembers the pilot episode where Susan played a bride-to-be who wore the gown prior to the wedding. It was not only the pretty face – Bing prefers the adjective Beautiful – but the charisma, the poise and even the voice. It was a given that Bing had seen all the movies where Susan Roces had starred in.
“I’ve learned that originally, Sampaguita wanted a Susan-Romeo Vasquez tandem, but Romeo left Sampaguita, that’s why she was paired with Eddie Gutierrez. The Susan-Eddie tandem was the love team to beat because they have chemistry, the kind we all saw recently in Sandra Bullock-Keanu Reeves great film The Lake House. Their films then and now move you and leave a light feeling in you. On the other hand, the Susan-FPJ pairing is something for the books—they were both royalties, a match made in heaven. FPJ wouldn’t be Da King without Da Queen. I love Portrait of My Love, The Big Broadcast, Dance-O-Rama, Tulisan, Divina Gracia, Patayin Mo Sa Sindak Si Barbara (she should have won best actress here), Paano Kung Wala Ka Na (the famous “It’s Unfair! It’s Unfair!” line), Mano Po 2. So far, the one that stands out among my favorites is the Lino Brocka film Gumising Ka, Maruja where Susan was at her best.”
Like any movie star fan, it was natural for Bing to hate the contravidas. “When I was younger, I hated Bella Flores especially when she cut Susan’s hair in Princesang Gusgusin. I got annoyed with the great Zeny Zabala everytime she took away JoseMari from Susan in Dance-O-Rama. But that was before because I thought these great contravidas were for real. But now I know it was just acting. If Sharon Cuneta has Cherie Gil, I think the best contravida for Susan is Zeny Zabala.”
A self-confessed movie addict, Bing had watched Susan’s movies not once but twice in one sitting. Thanks to the advances in technology, he has a video of Dance-O-Rama and Portrait of My Love which he watches to cast away his worries in times of crisis. “For Susan’s television appearances, I was able to record her great performance in Maalaala Mo Kaya where she played a mentally handicapped rape victim from World War 2whose daughter was played by Claudine Barretto. Another one was in Magpakailanman, the Elvira Lerum story. The very first film of Susan that I saw in the theater was Hoy Wala Kang Paki with Mitch Valdez and Nanette Inventor, it was a thrill for me, though at that time mas kumita ang movie nila Gloria Romero-Nida Blanca, Anak Ni Waray versus Anak Ni Biday. “
Unlike most cases, Bing’s showbiz inclination served as his inspiration to strive in his studies. He joined Ayala Land, Inc. after finishing Architecture in UST before gravitating to the call of his desires. ABS-CBN hired Bing as Training Supervisor for the Personality Development Workshops of Talent Center’s in-house artists. The enjoyable job gave him the opportunity to be closer to the stars. “Some of them would reveal secrets to me, seek advice, open up details of which I can never divulge. There was also these famous young stars. I matched them and now they are happily married and based abroad. I became the godfather of their first child. Then there was this moment with Sharon Cuneta where we would exchange e-mail messages and she would fondly call me Kuya Bing.”
Bing’s present post at GMA-7’s office of the President affords him to know some of the people closest to Susan Roces like Kuya Germs and Boots Plata among others. “I got the e-mail addresses of Susan’s best friend Baby K. Jimenez and her nephew Jeff Sonora. I’ve established communications with these people, not that I will use them to become closer to Susan, but to get to know more about my idol. It is also easier for me to send things that I do for Susan. “
– The ambush pictorial during the 2005 Luna Awards
During the 2005 Luna Awards at Westin Plaza, Bing was thrilled no end when he met Susan Roces face to face and got a genuine smile from his idol plus a bonus of an ambush pictorial. But this time Bing made sure that his eyes were open when his cellphone camera clicked. In reply to the question – in case you get invited to the celebration of Susan’s forthcoming birthday – Bing exhibited a mild shock. “Wow, this one never crossed my mind. It’s maybe like being invited to the Buckingham Palace or to St. Peter’s Square to meet the Pope. More than the gift, the first thing I’m going to think of is what I will wear. It would be difficult for me to think of a gift for she has everything already. Maybe the write-up I did which Kuya Germs asked me to frame is something worthy for it came from my heart. Ah, I guess the greatest gift I can give Susan is the “truth” that she is seeking, the “truth” that the whole world would want to know. If only I were Superman…”
– Their third meeting in Eastwood City during the inauguration of the Walk of Fame Philippines.
And for Bing’s wishes: “Now that she’s back doing what she does best, that is acting in front of the camera, I want her to be given roles she has never donebefore, movies that will earn her awards, lots of them, a grand slam best actress trophy, a Hall of Fame recognition from FAMAS. Of course, I want to know her personally, I want to be one of her friends just like Direk Boots, Ms. Baby K. Jimenez. I may not be one of the closest, but for her to at least recognize me as someone who is loyal to her. I hope she doesn’t think that I am doing all of this to get something in return, I am confident that she doesn’t coz she knows how to measure a fake from a real one. Ah, oh how I wish I would get a beautiful portrait of her complete with dedication and autograph.”
Serafin Silvino Manalo II, aka Bing, is truly a Susan Roces fan through and through. And he had proven it, not once but even more than twice!
Comments to this article can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Click below to read THE GREATEST OF THEM ALL, Bing Manalo’s prized article on Susan Roces : http://www.fapweb.org/archives/060505arj2.html