By Bing Manalo
All things bright and beautiful…not once, not twice but always. A perfect one-liner to describe the incomparable Susan Roces, without doubt one of the greatest figures Philippine show business has ever produced and is now radiating her brilliance in the political scene without meaning to do so.
Jesusa Purificacion Levy Sonora Poe started her luminous showbiz career more than 50 years ago, starting at the age of nine and since then had been enthroned in the hearts of Filipinos. Her peak as an actress may have long been over. She may not be the most awarded actress, but she is until now the movie queen in every aspect of that word. Compared to her contemporaries, Susan is the only one who retained the “big star” status up to this very day, still positioned for lead roles, her name on top billing, and still landing in the covers of glossy magazines and headlines in the country’s leading broadsheets. She has been bestowed with numerous titles – First Lady of Philippine Show Business, Queen of All Movie Queens, The Face That Refreshes, etc. proving her enduring magnitude. The biggest stars of the industry all look up to her, serving as their role model to be emulated. You rarely see her mingling in high society circles, but every appearance that she makes is an event, overshadowing even the most luminous socialites in town. She truly represents the positive side of show business.
As Boots Anson-Roa said: Susan’s beauty, then and now, not only has a refreshing appeal, it also evokes sweetness and light, almost infused with the essence of delicate roses. Susan’s beauty is a soft and quiet allure that grows on you, enhanced by her cool and confident demeanor. She was and remains poise personified. With this description alone, one will be amazed that nobody came close to her kind. She sits in that throne all by herself.
The woman behind the King of Philippine cinema was the light that helped him illuminate and lead the country’s entertainment industry for so many decades. FPJ, by leaving his queen behind, literally passed on to her not only the throne but the legacy to lead showbiz. Many industry insiders describe Susan as Da King and Da Queen rolled into one. The image of FPJ’s Panday has made way for Inday.
Kris Aquino once said that her dream interview was to get FPJ and Susan together but unfortunately this didn’t materialize. Apparently, it is truly an accomplishment for any media person to interview these two royalties, the crowned heads of the industry, for the basic reason that not much has been written about them and rarely do you see them in public. What were printed were based on opinions of people close to them and about their films. Rarely did the interviews came from them until recently when they entered the world of politics. The public wanted to know their thoughts, their valuable opinions on various matters inside and outside show business.
If it was their intention to keep their lives distant from the public as a strategy to achieve longevity, then their formula definitely worked. It would have been a remarkable transition in their lives if their entry into public service was not cut short. Nothing to worry about though, for the kind of life they led was something to emulate and was meaningful and over-achieving all by itself. Fortunately there’s still a ray of golden light left behind, for the Queen is now ready to speak. Seeing Susan being interviewed is a rare treat for every viewer and listener. She is a good if not a great interviewee. She is a master in answering even the most difficult and sensitive questions. Her answers are unique and full of substance that one will listen attentively and definitely learn a lesson. She often speaks unforgettable one-liners, meaty statements that would make one think and say – hey, what’s she said is right.
Recently she showed the world her secret persona. People know her as intelligent and articulate, but when she finally showed her eloquence and fierceness in a very classy and elegant style, the more she gained the admiration and respect not only of her colleagues but in the hearts of people from different parts of the world. She has elevated the level of showbiz over and over, proving there are stars who have brains and can articulate even the most sensitive issues. Have you ever wondered why everyone listens when she talks? Every time she mouths a phrase or two, one can’t help but focus on what she says, absorb it and allow it to linger on his or her mind even days after. You will never hear her praise and elevate herself. She is not self-centered but selfless. She doesn’t need any grand introduction and litany of praises. Whether you see her with throngs of alalays or just simply walking alone, she radiates regality and confidence.
There’s this one event when a lot of big stars are all over, being interviewed by reporters, but when Susan Roces entered the hall, all of these reporters flocked her like a herd of lambs. No wonder. The biggest star of them all has just arrived. That’s the royal treatment she gets.
Susan’s followers come from all walks of life but more surprisingly she continues to draw inspiration from the younger generation. Recently, there is this die-hard Susanian medicine student, equipped with rare pictures and clippings of the grand lady, who continuously pursues her dream of finally meeting her personal icon.
Another fan created two websites for Susan in order to be at par with the technology of the times and to reach and update Susanians from all over the world. Gone are the days when Susanians flocked the studios and theaters, carrying banners and screaming the name of their idol. Now, her legions of fans and followers continue to support her projects, her causes, her appearances, her interviews and everything about her, in a more upgraded zeal and dedication. A simple glimpse of her or just hearing her name being mentioned, gives each of them a genuine smile, a feeling of joy and excitement.
In the world of show business, Susan Roces outshines the rest because of her proven staying power. In an ungrateful field like showbiz, where as one ages, her market value decreases, Susan is the only one who continues to gain popularity and market value. On the other hand, in the world of politics, although a neophyte, Susan is a breath of fresh air. For the longest time in the history of Philippine politics, we haven’t seen somebody as “clean” as her. We have heard many political voices, but hers was the loudest because it is clear, true and sincere.
Susan Roces will remain to be one of a kind, a magnificent woman who radiates the true essence of being a celebrity, a woman, a wife, a mother, and what could have been the grandest and most beautiful First Lady the country should have, equipped with outstanding regality, unquestionable intelligence, yet remains humble, prayerful and compassionate. She will never be equaled nor replaced, the only one in our history. Her name should be permanently etched in the four corners of the country.
Truly, Susan Roces is forever!