Pageant fanatic Gerry Diaz admits he rarely cries. The last time he cried was in 2020 when his mom passed away. He also cried when Mayor Jesse Robredo and Cory Aquino died. When his dearest movie idol Susan Roces passed on last Friday, May 20, he shed tears.
In a video uploaded on Facebook on May 21, Gerry said he planned to meet Susan in July, along with former showbiz columnist BK Jimenez, to turn over some rare pictures.
“Nakakalungkot lang kasi we planned to see Susan. Everytime I would go to the shooting of her movies, marami akong dalang pictures. And these were personally autographed by Susan,” said Gerry, a member of the popular training camp for beauty queens and fashion models called Aces and Queens.
“This is part of my collectibles, that I really treasure so much. Sometimes when she signed my photos, she would always remark, ‘Gerry ang gaganda ng pictures mo!’ Kumpletong kumpleto.”
“And I recall in two occasions, sinabi niya sa akin, ‘Gerry when the time comes matanda ka na, at hindi mo na kailangan ang mga pictures, puwede akin na lang ito?” he recounted.
But Susan won’t be around anymore to personally receive those pictures packed with wonderful memories.
“Kanina when I remembered that, it brought tears to my eyes. Kasi hindi ko na nagawa.
“We had planned to give it personally. Kausap ko si Baby K Jimenez, one of her closest friends, who is also the top movie columnist at the height of the movie career of Susan.
“Sabi niya sa akin she planned to come here in July, and isasama nya raw ako. So that I can personally hand them over to Susan. My box has about 300 photos na nirequest niya noon pa. Sa July 27 sana yun, pero hindi na matutuloy,” said Gerry, whose friend Baby is based in the US.
“I will save some copies of the photos and the rest, ibibigay ko na lang kay Senator Grace Poe.
“I just wanna say thank you, Susan, Manang Inday, for all the happy memories, for the joy you gave me, especially during my high school days. I’m keeping my promise. Ibibigay ko sa’yo ito. May your beautiful soul rest in peace. Thank you so much. Mahal na mahal kita Manang Inday,” Gerry said.
Gerry recalled he became a fanatic of the movie queen when he was still in high school.
“I was a very big fan of Susan. High school days pa lang. I remember passing up my recess, saving my allowances in order to buy pictures of her, along the sidewalks of Quiapo, between Life Theater and Globe Theater.
“I also buy a lot of magazines. Not just one, but multiple copies, whenever she was featured on the cover or inside articles.
“Yun din ang sine-save ko para pasalubong kay Susan whom we call Manang Inday, when we visit her location shootings.
“We buy the pinakamalutong na manggang hilaw with bagoong alamang and we bring it to her para snacks niya during her shooting breaks.
“We also go to Ma Mon Luk (Restaurant), isa na paborito niya rin, yung mga siopao ng Ma Mon Luk.
“I remember every time my first day showing, a lot of fans go to the theater. We buy multiple strands of long garlands of Sampaguita, na sinasabit namin kay Susan, pagdating niya. Nagsasabit din kami ng multiple colored balloons, several dozens sa staircase, leading up to the upper section which we called loge before,” he added.
Gerry, who also works for BDO Unibank, was able to attend the first night of the wake for the Queen of Philippine Movies.
He just realized that the photo displayed in the wake of Susan was also the last memento he received from her.
“Two years ago, Susan Roces gave me an autographed 8R photograph on my birthday. This must be her favorite photo. They used it for her wake,” Gerry also said.
At the wake, Gerry met Brian Poe Llamanzares, son of Senator Grace Poe, who introduced him to some guests as a die-hard fan of his grandmother.
Gerry told Brian that he would be turning over photos of Susan taken in the 60s and 70s.
“He thanked me in advance and said they will include it in the museum that they are putting up to house the memorabilia of FPJ and Susan.”
Gerry said that the remains of Susan arrived at the Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig City at 5:40 p.m.
“As announced, the wake would start at 6 p.m. and Senator Grace Poe arrived at the appointed time. I got to talk to Sen. Grace and told her I will be turning over 200 photos of her mom Susan to Brian.
“At around 6:15 p.m., after the floral arrangements were finished, the viewing started. She looked very lovely and was true to her monicker as “The Face That Refreshes”.
“Susan wore a fully embroidered jusi gown and a long golden tambourine necklace. As I approached Susan and started praying, tears swelled in my eyes,” Gerry said.
She was also appointed as one of the independent directors for the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation on Jan. 1, 2010.
- Illustrious career
Born on July 29, 1941, Susan has had an illustrious life and career. A recipient of five FAMAS awards, including two best actress trophies, Susan starred in more than 130 films.
In 1952, Susan debuted in the movie “Mga Bituin Ng Kinabukasan.” Her other iconic movies were “Ang Daigdig Ko’y Ikaw,” “Maruja,” “Patayin Mo Sa Sindak Si Barbara,” and “Mano Po 2: My Home.”
In 2003, the Film Academy of the Philippines honored her with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to the Philippine cinema.
Susan was also appointed as one of the independent directors for the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation on Jan. 1, 2010.
On Feb. 25, the Philippine Post Office immortalized Susan via the Philippine Postal Stamp.
“Isang malaking karangalan ang mapabilang sa Living Legend Series ng Outstanding Filipinos ng Philpost. Maraming salamat sa pagkilala sa aking pitong dekada ng pagbibigay ng aliw at saya sa sambayanang Pilipino sa telebisyon at pelikula. Maging bahagi sana ang selyong ito ng pagpapahatid ng pagmamahal at pagtataguyod ng pagkakaunawaan sa pamamagitan ng mga sulat,” said Susan in a statement.
- Early days
It was reported that Susan was offered a movie contract on the spot at the age of 15.
That time, she went to the Sampaguita Pictures compound, hoping she could catch a glimpse of her favorite star Gloria Romero.
Dr. Jose Perez, founder of Sampaguita Pictures, reportedly saw her and was stunned by her mestiza features.
Perez immediately signed her up to star in her first lead role “Boksingera” in 1956.
Susan got her first Best Actress FAMAS nomination for the movie “Ana-Roberta.” She was later nominated for her other films “Maruja” (1967), “To Susan With Love” (1968), “Divina Gracia” (1970), “Bilangguang Puso” (1972), “Hanggang Sa Kabila ng Daigdig” (1974), and “Patayin Mo Sa Sindak si Barbara” (1974).
Finally, in 1978, Susan won her first Famas Best Actress award for the film “Maligno.”
Susan was last seen in the longest-running teleserye “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano” on ABS-CBN, where she had a recurring role as Lola Flora, grandmother of Cardo Dalisay, played by Coco Martin.
At the height of Covid-19, Susan begged off from taping “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano.” But she later resumed within the confines of her home.
- No. 1 supporter of FPJ, Grace Poe
In 1968, Susan and FPJ were married on Christmas Day.
Susan became the No. 1 supporter of her husband, Fernando, when he ran for the presidency in 2003. She would join in almost all of his campaign sorties.
FPJ did not win the election. In 2004, the King of Philippine Movies passed away.
Susan was also supportive of Grace’s political dreams.
Grace ran for the presidency in 2016. She finished third.
In an Instagram post in 2019, the senator honored her mom with a touching message.
“Mom, thank you for the sleepless nights, the band-aids, the nourishing meals, the shoulder to lean on. You have shown me that the love of a mother—biological, foster, or adoptive—is unconditional and beyond measure,” wrote Grace.