The Butcher | I slept with Gloria Romero's award

I’m sure everyone here will agree that Ms. Gloria Romero is the greatest movie queen of all time. She has done everything – comedy, drama, horror and fantasy. The only one she was unable to do was Vivamax. That would have completed her career. I ended my speech by saying that we should be grateful that we have a Gloria Romero who lent her immense talent to the entertainment profession.

I’m sure everyone here will agree that Ms. Gloria Romero is the greatest movie queen of all time. She has done everything – comedy, drama, horror and fantasy. The only one she was unable to do was Vivamax. That would have completed her career. I ended my speech by saying that we should be grateful that we have a Gloria Romero who lent her immense talent to the entertainment profession.

This phone call came less than two weeks ago. Gloria Romero’s daughter, Maritess Gutierrez, sounded frantic on the phone.     

My heart did a double somersault all of a sudden. Did something bad happen to Gloria Romero?     

Maritess immediately assured me: “No, no, no – she’s fine.” And then she added that her mother was up for another lifetime award.     

It was the Film Development Council of the Philippines or FDCP that was honoring her mother. Wasn’t Maritess supposed to shouting hooray instead of panicking?      

Then I remembered Gloria Romero’s unique problem. While other artists would lobby or even buy an award and show up at the affair dressed to the nines, Gloria’s predicament was finding somebody to represent her at the awards ceremonies.     

Surely, she is appreciative of each and every award that comes her way. The trouble is, she is 90 years old. She is no longer in the pink of health.     

And given what floats in the air these days, it’s no longer safe for her to be exposed to outside factors. Gloria is also the type who would be mobbed by everyone when brought to any occasion. That’s how much she is loved by her friends and even the public in general.       

For this latest honor – the Parangal ng Sining of the FDCP – Maritess would have gladly accepted the trophy on her behalf. But they are short on help these days. The family driver, in fact, is on vacation.     

Would I be willing to be Gloria Romero’s representative to the FDCP affair? But of course! It would be my honor. The truth is, I’d give Gloria Romero even my kidney if necessary.     

And so off to the FDCP event I went. It turned out to be a fun night at the Seda North Vertis. Half of the crowd turned out to be friends.     

Actually, it was like a meeting of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino. Eight Manunuri members – past and present - were there. Two were awardees, while the rest were presenters.     

One of those who presented the awards was screenwriting great Ricky Lee. Ricky was a former Manunuri. FYI, he was a film critic first before he became a legend in Philippine cinema.     

Of course, he later became a National Artist – the second Manunuri to be bestowed such honor. The first one was Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera who was named National Artist for Literature.     

The two FDCP honorees from the Manunuri ranks may even be named National Artists in the future. Who knows? And why not? Both of them are brilliant.     

The first one is Dr. Nicanor Tiongson. He truly deserves the lifetime achievement award from the FDCP. Tiongson is a film and literary scholar. He is an expert at anything Filipino. He is still an active member of the Manunuri.
    
The other one is Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr. He wrote the screenplay for some of the greatest Filipino films: Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag, Itim, Kakabakaba Ka Ba, Kisap-mata, Batch '81, and ‘Merika.      

Aside from Tiongson and Del Mundo, the other recipients of the Parangal ng Sining were Boots Anson Roa Rodrigo, Armando “Bing” Lao, and the late Jaclyn Jose. Thank heavens, Boots Anson Roa Rodrigo is still healthy and strong even if she is turning 80 January of next year. She was lovely in her black evening dress during the FDCP night.     

Sadly, Bing Lao had to be pushed in a wheelchair by a male nurse. He can no longer speak, but has an idea of everything going around him. At least, even if he is physically weak, he was able to relish the award that was given to him by  the FDCP.     

But the one moment that almost made everyone cry was the acceptance speech of Andi Eigenmann who accepted the posthumous award of her mother, the sorely missed Jaclyn Jose. She was escorted by partner Philmar Alipayo.     

Film scholar and archivist Teddy Co was also given a posthumous award. Co richly deserved the honor. His name may not be familiar to most people, but his contributions to local cinema were immense.     

FDCP also honored the film organizations Sagip-Pelikula and the Society of Filipino Archivists for Film (SOFIA). Sagip-Pelikula is under the ABS-CBN Film Restoration department. Leo Katigbak, my co-host in the newest ABS-CBN talk show Best 10 Bets, accepted the award. Heading the Sagip-Pelikula project is a monumental undertaking and I salute him for that.     

Of course, the restoration of Filipino movies would not have been possible without the backing of Charo Santos-Concio, who was present at the affair and must have been the loveliest woman that evening. Well, she and Boots Anson Roa Rodrigo.     

The loveliest of them all, sadly, was unable to make it. Yes, I am referring to Gloria Romero.     

I tried to really shorten my speech since I was just a representative. In fact, I felt awkward posing with the trophy with presenters Amy Perez and newly-minted FDCP chairman Jose Javier Reyes.     

So what did I say? This was what I recall: Ms. Gloria Romero would have wanted to be here but at 90 she is already a bit frail and delicate. But she’s okay. Her lab works are good. She sleeps well, eats well. She is basically fine.     

I’m sure everyone here will agree that Ms. Gloria Romero is the greatest movie queen of all time. She has done everything – comedy, drama, horror and fantasy. The only one she was unable to do was Vivamax. That would have completed her career.     

I ended my speech by saying that we should be grateful that we have a Gloria Romero who lent her immense talent to the entertainment profession.     

I delivered the trophy to her house, along with a tub of “otap,” right the next day. Yes, I slept with it first before I turned it over to the real owner. And no, it never crossed my mind to sell it to Boss Toyo.     

But it felt great to represent the esteemed Gloria Romero. That’s the closest I can get to accepting a lifetime achievement award. Oops, that wasn’t mine, may I remind you again. But close enough.     

Tomorrow, I can die.

 

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