Anyway you look at it, the four-day period from July 13 to 16 may be considered one of the saddest four-day periods in recent memory, specially for local film industry people.
On Sunday, July 13, Director Felix Dalay was finally buried in his hometown of Paete in Laguna. At the age of 58, Felix succumbed to cancer in his residence last July 6.
Three days later on Wednesday, July 16, bereaved relatives and friends of Rudy Fernandez, fondly called Daboy, marked the fortieth day of his death at the Heritage Park Cemetery in Taguig.
It was during the mass for the occasion when Johnny Delgado got a text message sadly informing him that ABS-CBN Director Gilbert Perez suffered cardiac arrest as he lay comatose at St. Luke’s Hospital after a heart attack last July 1. Manong Gilbert, as he was fondly called by colleagues and the stars he directed, finally passed away at past ten o’clock of the same night. He was only 48 years old and at the height of his directorial career.
What sadder four-day period can there be?
But measuring sadness is really a futile and negative undertaking. The bottom line of remembering friends who had gone away is that we must finally let go though we can still treasure and keep the memories of those departed.
This writer was close to Daboy and Felix. But I knew that Daboy and Felix were already whipping out action film projects together before I wrote the very first script for Daboy. This was based on the true-to-life story of Waway and was told from the point of view of Ruther Batuigas, a former colleague at the Philippines Herald.
Daboy made the film for Vanguard Films and this garnered him several best actor trophies. That was the start of the series of scripts for Daboy—many of them true-to-life stories of criminals and law enforcers, komiks novels and original storylines.
It was Daboy—with the help of ABS-CBN President Charo Santos-Concio—who convinced Mother Lily to give me my first directorial assignment under Regal Film in 1988. This was Sandakot na Bala which also starred Eddie Garcia, Gloria Romero, Melanie Marquez, Nadia Montenegro, Monica Herrera and a young Billy Crawford.
I directed Daboy in six other films. And in some of these films, I collaborated with Daboy and Felix in brainstorming our film projects.
Felix was actually behind the blockbuster action films Daboy made for Bukang Liwayway of Jerry Talavera like Get My Son…Dead or Alive!
Felix Dalay at Le Figaro in Sucat, April 26, 2006
The usual venue of our brainstorming or jamming sessions was the TV room of Daboy’s house in White Plains. Sitting around a poker table, we threw ideas around, caught some in the air and let inane ones float away as we crafted a decent storyline or synopsis for the film under discussion.
Those were the days of the early eighties when local cinema was experiencing its halcyon days. Script assignments kept pouring in. Most workers in the film industry were getting new assignments or contracts even before they could finish the films they were shooting.
Those and succeeding years cemented the friendship and closeness that bound us together. Projects kept pouring in. We worked together in some films and made separate projects but still kept in touch with each other.
Last March 3, Daboy celebrated his 56th birthday. A group of former Reflection Films staffers and production people made a surprise visit to Daboy in White Plains on the night of March 2 and we were still there when midnight came and we were his first birthday greeters. We knew he was touched by the gesture.
In mid-June, another surprise party was thrown by Felix’s family to celebrate his 58th birthday at the Kenny Rogers branch at the corner of Quezon avenue and Examiner street. The party occupied the entire second floor of the eatery. Felix was really surprised when he saw the visitors crowding the second floor. His showbiz friends and high school classmates were all there.
Sad to say, those were their last birthdays.
Thinking back now, it became clear to me that there were parallel occasions that transpired for Daboy and Felix. During the fortieth day of Daboy at Heritage, a common friend intimated that Daboy and Felix were still able to be together at least for ten days before the former left the earthly world. He added Felix will be here up to August 14, his 40th day.
But after August 14, we know Daboy and Felix will always be together. And they will be in good company.
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