Apr 21
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Farewell, FPJ, your memory will live in our hearts!

Author: The Manila Bulletin

It's not only the movie industry but the whole nation that's mourning the demise of Fernando Poe Jr., acknowledged the "King of Philippine Movies," and the man who would have been president of the country. FPJ (or manager) as he was fondly called, was Ronald Allan Poe in real life. He is survived by wife Susan Roces, once known as "Queen of Philippine Movies," children Mary Grace Poe Lamanzares and Ronian Poe, brother Frederick and sisters Elizabeth, Evangeline and Genevieve. FPJ went back to his Creator at 12:01 a.m. yesterday, after three days of fighting for his life at the Intensive Care Unit of St. Luke's Medical Center. The top action star, loved by legions of fans all over the country, suffered a stroke during a Christmas party for his production staff at the FPJ Studio in San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City last Saturday night. He never recovered consciousness even as doctors at St. Luke's did their best to save him. FPJ was said to have been afflicted with cerebral thrombosis at the right hemisphere of his brain. Complications later occurred which affected most of his organs.

FPJ's remains were brought to Arlington East Garden Chapels in Pasig City. But the wake until Dec. 22 will be held at the Sto. Domingo Church, which will be more accessible for his fans to visit. Among the first to arrive at Arlington to condole FPJ's family was megastar Sharon Cuneta, who was the actor's leading lady in the blockbuster movie series "Kahit Konting Pagtingin."

Mary Grace, who lives with her family in Virginia USA, landed at the airport a few minutes after FPJ's death, we were told, prompting many to believe that the actor just waited for her arrival before he breathed his last. When he was still alive, FPJ used to tell us how proud and happy he was for having grandchildren with his daughter Mary Grace."Ang sarap pala talaga ang may apo," he told us.

St. Luke's Medical Center was swarmed 24 hours with family, friends, colleagues, supporters and fans during the three-day confinement of FPJ. Former President Joseph Estrada, on a three-hour furlough granted him by the Sandiganbayan, visited his buddy the other night and was deeply saddened to see FPJ's condition. And although he said that FPJ was making a good fight, Erap knew that his bosom friend was in a very critical condition ("masama ang kalagayan").

It was Amay Bisaya, comedian-actor who calls FPJ "ninong" and who's one of the many "little people" in the movie industry who's close to "Da King," who called us at quarter past 12 midnight to tell of the sad news, that our idol-friend had passed away. "Wala na ang ating kaibigan, Ate, nag-iiyakan na kami dito," he said, his voice emotional as he added, "Bakit hindi pa ako ang kinuha ninyo Diyos ko at hindi si FPJ na maraming natutulungan lalo na sa mga nangangailangan naming kapatid sa industriya." Amay, along with Eddie Garcia, Niño Muhlach, Efren Reyes, Annabelle Rama and Eddie Gutierrez, was among those who faithfully kept vigil at the hospital ever since FPJ was brought there.

When we were at St. Luke's Sunday night, we chanced upon former awarded child actor Niño Muhlach at the elevator and he told us how deeply he was pained and saddened by what happened to his "ninong." Disillusioned by the current political landscape of the country, Niño said "FPJ is my president, he was the one elected by the people..." Niño was among the many actors who campaigned vigorously for FPJ when he ran for president. He would have made a great difference for the people if he were the one running the country now, Niño added.

The movie industry loses one of its pillars and surely he will be missed by all, especially those who've benefitted from his widely-known and legendary generosity. At the Tropical Hut (across National Bookstore along Quezon Ave.) which is a popular hang-out of movie workers, especially those displaced by the slump, nothing has been talked about for several days now except about FPJ and fond stories about him.

Unending tales about FPJ come from the film workers' lips, all exulting the country's action king. Last Monday afternoon for instance, movie director Rudy Dominguez said that it was "Da King" who "opened" catering services to the lowly workers of the movie industry. It was a practice before that only known stars, the director and other high-ranking executives of the production staff were served food by a hired caterer. The lowly film workers had to bring their own food, or buy it elsewhere.

But FPJ stopped the discriminatory practice, and since then, caterers and producers also served food to the lowly film workers.

Direk Dominguez, who practically grew up with FPJ in the local movie industry, added that FPJ had a good heart that was bigger than life. He narrated that when both visited a hospital where FPJ gave financial assistance to a confined fellow actor, FPJ, noticing that there was another actor confined in the same hospital, he immediately visited him and gave him R30,000! He also gave the same amount to the family of a deceased entertainment writer when he went to his wake.

FPJ was one person who never let down anybody in showbiz in need of assistance. When a movie writer, who also practices as publicist, was confined in a hospital in Quezon City, FPJ paid for all his medical bills which amounted to more than a hundred thousand pesos. "Da King" also paid for the tuition fees of all the four children of a showbiz couple until they graduated from college.

But "Da King" will never talk about his generosity and charitable deeds.

Many character actors, when they ran out of finances, would visit "Da King" and immediately, he would assist them in all their needs. One movie director was about to be thrown out from the apartment he was renting because of his arrears, but FPJ came to his rescue and paid the bills.

Every Christmas season, FPJ would send cavans of rice and also cash to his colleagues as gifts. One of his last acts of charity was the packing of relief goods sent to victims of the recent typhoons that devastated Real, Infanta and Nakar towns of Quezon Province. But FPJ never let this act of charity made public!

FPJ was indeed an invaluable gift to the country.

Farewell, my friend. Your memory will live among us, in our hearts!

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Source: The Manila Bulletin