There would be no more sadder morning than to wake up and hear the terrible news. That Fernando Poe, Jr. had passed away. The King is dead.
My mind swirled and made a sort of involuntary time travel. Plastered in front of me are vouchers to be signed for the release of contributions to people from all walks of life. The FPJ office is like a charity institution, receiving requests left and right, from school tuition fees to house construction. FPJ Productions is lending raw films to independent producers like RVQ and AM Productions just so the numerous movie industry workers will get employment.
It is a delight to get invited to his parties and gatherings. Everybody happy, so to speak, because everyone gets a share of the blessings. Ronnie, as he is fondly called by people close to him, never fails people’s expectations. Be it a family, friend, acquaintance or even people he doesn’t know, Ronnie was indeed a charitable institution all by himself.
The good deeds don’t end there. The list is actually longer than a mile even if written in 12 fonts of Arial or Times New Roman. But only few of his real-life gallantry was heard because Ronnie abhorred praise releases. To him, good deeds are better counted in heaven and not on earth.
Another admirable trait of Ronnie is his candidness. He advises all and sundry against backstabbing. You should give people the benefit of defending himself, said Ronnie, so bad things should be said in front and not behind his back. But unfortunately that’s not the way it works in show business.
So many were surprised with Ronnie’s decision to run in the last presidential election. Ronnie was always apolitical even if he was surrounded by politicians. His wedding godfather was President Marcos. His closest friend, Joseph Estrada, immersed in politics for a long time, starting with being mayor of San Juan until up the line of being President Erap Estrada.
People close to Ronnie knew that the king of Philippine movies was for unity. And since politics divide the people, so that may be the reason why he shunned politics. But each man has his own price. In the face of the government’s failure to curb poverty and corruption, Ronnie was persuaded by his countrymen to run for the highest office of the land. With a simple platform, he dared trod the shark-infested waters called election. And he came out defeated in the counting but his heart unscathed. He knew all along that he had won the people’s hearts.
Quietly, Ronnie faded from the limelight and tried to regroup his forces. They filed a petition with the PET (Presidential Election Tribunal) while continuing his own crusade against the harsh tentacles of poverty. As was his nature, Ronnie extended help to everyone he could reach. In the recent calamity, Ronnie prepared relief goods although it was not splashed in the marquee.
On that fateful night of December 11, Ronnie was exuberant on Manny Pacquiao’s abbreviated win over a Thai boxer. Unknown to many, Ronnie is a true-blue sportsman. He owns race horses, plays billiards and indulges in other sports. Truly, many stable grooms (sota) and amateur billiard players have lost a generous benefactor. It would be a great tribute to hold an FPJ cup race in his honor.
And not to forget, San Miguel Beer should reformat its commercials not unlike the NBA retiring a great player’s jersey. The Fernando Poe, Jr. series of the SMB commercials will live in the people’s mind because it is the embodiment of a hero, a true hero of the masses. Like John ny Appleseed who sows apple seeds wherever he goes, FPJ had sown kindness that touched the lives of people he had met and even those he hadn’t personally met.
Back to the present, reality really bites, alas, hard and painful. The invincible hero, the infallible leader submitted to nature’s reality. And the final frame stands frozen now, with the folk hero holding a beer bottle, with his curt smile and the patented “hand inside the pocket” stance. The legend will live on.