There’s something that makes me quite excited about seeing and talking to a celebrity. Although it’s extremely hard to reach them or come into contact with them, I still treat them like gods or put them on pedestals, especially if they are truly awesome. Some of them are simple and down-to-earth, just like us.
I met the Queen of Philippine Movies Susan Roces when she became an independent director for the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation sometime in 2010. Following the announcement of her appointment in our company, I and some desk editors were excited to pay a courtesy call to her at the Executive Office. To capture the moment, the best memento to collect was her autograph. Cellphones and selfies were not yet a fashion at that time. So I decided to bring my restored DVD version of her 1960 film “Amy, Susie, and Tessie,” a romantic comedy starring Roces, Amalia Fuentes, and Tessie Agana, which I bought at Rockwell; and the 2008 series “Maligno,” starring Claudine Barretto, so that she could sign them for an autograph.
We went to her office around 11 a.m. As far as I could remember, there were only five of us who went there. Despite her busy schedule, she was welcoming. We chatted for a few minutes. She said she was happy to be part of the Manila Bulletin. For a moment, I was there not as an editor of the nation’s leading newspaper, but as a movie fan. Moments later, I showed her the two original DVDs I brought. She was surprised that I still have the restored version of one of her films. I was thrilled as she signed the DVD copy of her flick. Then she joked: “I hope Amalia and Tessie can also sign your DVD.” We all laughed, considering that it would be impossible to meet Amalia and Tessie. Then I handed over the “Maligno” DVD also for an autograph. She just looked at it, but she declined to sign it because she was not the lead star of the series. No worries. At least I have something to be cherished, a rare collector’s item, from a movie queen herself. Yet the most amazing experience was getting a handshake from her, pretty sweet. I was starstruck! She was a genuinely nice person.
Roces began her acting career in 1952 when she was introduced in the movie “Mga Bituin Ng Kinabukasan.” Four years later, she debuted in her first starring role in “Boksingera” opposite Luis Gonzales. On Dec. 25, 1968, she married her first and only boyfriend Fernando Poe Jr., also known as FPJ. They adopted Grace Poe, who later became one of the country’s top senators. She gave all-out support to her husband and adoptive daughter when they ran for political office. FPJ passed away on Dec. 14, 2004. Roces would have turned 81 on July 28. With a career spanning 70 years, she was active in the entertainment industry until she passed away on May 20.
There are so many inspiring celebrities, and she was one of them. She touched people through her grace and beauty. An epitome of elegance and warmth, she was also an exquisite persona on screen and off. She was humble and had a strong work ethic as she ruled our screens. A class act of a woman. Farewell to a movie queen!
(Robert R. Requintina is the Entertainment Editor of Manila Bulletin)