By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.
FIRSTLY my big thanks to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte for finally signing the Republic Act 11608, renaming the well-known Roosevelt Avenue in Quezon City after the late national famed actor the San Carlos, Pangasinan-born Fernando Poe, Jr., popularly known as FPJ. According to media reports, Duterte officially signed the bill December 10 last year but was only made public last January 14. FPJ’s ardent fans spearheaded by fellow actor Philip Salvador described the law as “long overdue.” I agree.
My memories of him brought me back to the last Sunday of March 1961 when I first saw the handsome San Carlean hombre in person together with his movie sidekick Dencio Padilla during the town fiesta celebration of Mapandan. I was then a 15-year-old kid and my addiction to the field of cycling had just started after my graduation in high school. My neighbor and my friend the late German Bautista was with me and we both heard a conversation between the late Mapandan Mayor Alejandro Cerame and the then youthful actor FPJ at the back of the town’s auditorium. Since San Carlos (not city yet during that time) and Mapandan towns have the same dates in celebrating their town fiestas, and FPJ had a habit of visiting San Carlos, his place of birth. It was during that year when FPJ’s rumored girlfriend, the popular Charito Solis, was the crowning guest of Miss Mapandan. I believe that was the main reason why FPJ was in Mapandan – it was to secretly have a chance to watch Miss Solis. However, the duo went back to San Carlos without meeting Miss Solis.
My second glimpse of FPJ was during a basketball exhibition game between his team known then as FPJ Productions against the Clark Field Diplomats composed of American servicemen stationed at Clark, Pampanga held at the Marikina City Sports Center Basketball Arena sometime summer of year 1970. As expected, the FPJ five composed of himself and his brother Andy Poe, Ruel Vernal, the brothers Paquito and Romy Diaz, Jumbo Salvador, Robert Talabis, Vic Vargas, and FPJ’s perennial contra-vida barrio Magtaking, Bugallon, Pangasinan-born Victor Bravo, to name some, lost the match by five points to the taller Americans. I forgot the exact score. It was the former UE Warrior star player Paquito Diaz who did the scare against the foreigners by dominating the scoring of FPJ’s five.
Third time I saw FPJ was during his 2004 presidential campaign sorties here in Pangasinan. He was with his running mate Sen. Loren Legarda. I rode the vehicle of veteran national story writer Mel Velasco that ended with them at the Pangasinan Regency Hotel.
The fourth and the last time was when I met him on June 22, 2004 when he visited Dagupan City. He went to St. John Cathedral and talked to Archbishop Oscar Cruz after his defeat to` Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA). It was a defeat which millions of his followers (until now) claim that FPJ lost because of election fraud and manipulation. The phone call of GMA to election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and the words “Hello Garci” still lingers in the mind of his faithful followers. They believe it was the phone call that caused his defeat, and many say it was what eventually caused his untimely death because of stress.
And now he’s gone, gone for good, at 64 years of age, but his memory especially his movies will forever last.
His real name is Ronald Allan Kelly Poe. His brother and co-actor the late Andy Poe, is the real Fernando Poe, Jr.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past. ISAIAH 26: 20
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