Apr 23
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FPJ: The First Time, The Last Time

Author: The Philippine Star

Hoy, Guessing!

In case you still didn’t know (but where have you been!?!), that’s the biggest and most popular gameshow in town, played not only in the political and showbiz circles but in every nook and cranny of this game-crazy country by people from all levels of society, with everyone eager to be heard.

Now, is FPJ running for President in 2004 or not?

The question has parted these 7,100 islands (yes, low tide. .. right, Charlene?) into passionate pros and cons in such a marked manner that reminds many people of how Moses parted the Red Sea.

FPJ himself doesn’t help resolve the whole thing by simply keeping quiet (keeping his cards close to his heart?), thereby making the guessing game even more intriguing and more suspenseful.

So what are we to do? Read his lips? Find meaning in the way he smiles? Follow the direction of his eyes? Or read between the lines of whatever word or phrase or sentence or paragraph (if the Man of Few Words is ever capable of saying that much) that tumbles out of his mouth?

When people heard the rumor (unconfirmed) that FPJ was taking special lessons in Public Administration at UP, they (the pro-FPJs) cheered him right on and concluded that, yes, indeed, he’s running, much to the chagrin of anti-FPJs.

So FPJ was seen "in a huddle" with Pampanga Gov. Lito Lapid last week and everybody was sure that, yes, indeed, they were mapping out a political strategy for 2004 (even if, as FPJ himself admitted, "I happened to be shooting in Pampanga and I heard that there was a fiesta nearby so I checked out Gov. Lito instead of him coming to me; nakakahiya naman, di ba?").

Two weeks ago, FPJ was quoted by ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol as saying, "All I have to do is entertain the kids and I’ll win them all" and self-proclaimed political "analysts" said that that statement carried a lot of "meaning. "

Laughed FPJ, "Before, when I shook hands with the people, it was because I’m an actor. Now, when I shake hands with people, they say I’m playing politics. "

But it’s true: All FPJ has to do is entertain the kids and he’ll win them all – kids and kids-at-heart alike – like what he’s doing in his latest movie, FPJ Productions’ Ang Alamat ng Lawin (which he himself is directing, using his directorial screen name Ronwaldo Reyes), an entry to this month’s Metro Manila Filmfest.

It’s been years since FPJ topbilled the Panday series, top-grossers in previous Metro Filmfests, enjoyed by kids and adults alike. Alamat promises to be bigger and better in terms of production and story values, shooting all over the country (Bohol, Ilocos Norte, Zambales and Rizal) and using the most modern equipment for its special and visual effects.

Co-starring with FPJ are Ina Raymundo and four children personally handpicked by Da King: Cathy Villar, Khen Kurillo, Ryan Yamazaki and Franklin Cristobal. The four kids help Lawin in slaying the evil creatures and restoring peace and freedom in the blighted land. In the movie – story by Ar Reyes and script by Manny Buising – the four children are street vendors in Quiapo swept by a powerful force to another world and time, where they meet a captive tribal lady (Ina) and Lawin.

In the other world, they learn they were brought there to help the brave and noble Lawin in liberating the people enslaved by cruel monsters. After thrilling battles amid breathtaking and spectacular views, Lawin and the kids emerge victorious. Along the way, the kids also succeed in matching their hero with the tribal lady, giving the plot a romantic twist.

The four children return to the streets of Quiapo, hailed as heroes, but instilled in their young hearts and minds is the Alamat ng Lawin, soaring proudly to the sky, his bravery and nobility never to be forgotten.

Meanwhile, Conversations pinned down FPJ not to talk about politics but to subject him to some kind of a "psychological test" in this space’s broken series The First Time/The Last Time (just like the three others, Playing Favorites, The Best/The Worst and If I Were. ..)

The "test" is very revealing (according to a psychologist who helped me with the items), so be alert now and, that’s it, read between the lines.

• The First Time He Cried

"When my brother Andy (Poe, the real Fernando Poe, Jr. , FPJ being Ronald Allan Poe in real life. – RFL) died because it was so sudden. (Andy succumbed to a heart attack at dawn in 1995. – RFL) It took quite sometime for me to get over his death. Mahirap. "

• The Last Time He Cried

"When my Mom (Bessie Kelly Poe) died a few years later. "

• The First Movie That He Ever Saw

"The Flash Gordon series (chapter one, chapter two, etc. ). The first Filipino movie I saw was Kapitan Bagwis (starring the late Efren Reyes, produced by Premiere Productions). I was fascinated by the eskrimahan scenes. When I did Anak ni Palaris, I played a character armed with an espada and I did a lot of eskrimahan scenes. "

• The Last Movie He Saw

"Spider-Man. I saw it in the moviehouse with Susan (Roces, his wife) and Jeff (Susan’s nephew). I prefer watching movies in a moviehouse, better than watching them on video. "

• The First Time He Got Really Angry

(Thinks hard) "I don’t think I’ve ever really been very angry; hindi ’yung sukdulan. When I get angry, after a while I cool down na. Madaling mawala ang galit ko. How would people know that I’m angry? When I’m silent; kapag tumatahimik na ako. "

• The Last Time He Got Really Angry

(Again thinks hard) "I can’t remember an instance when I got really angry. Wala, e! What makes me angry? A negative person, one who puts down somebody to boost himself; ‘yung naninira ng ibang tao para umangat ang sarili niya. I can easily spot that kind of person. In that case, out ka na kaagad sa akin. "

• The First Book He Ever Read

"Tarzan books by Edgar Rice Burough. It was our Mom who encouraged us to read. My Mom had a collection of Tarzan books and she passed it on to me. "

• The Last Book He Read

"The Best-Laid Plans by Sydney Sheldon, given to me by Ethel (Ramos). She also gave me another one, Sky is the Limit, also by Sheldon. She always gives me books, mga light reading. "

• The First Time He Told a Lie

"I was a kid then. My Dad asked me if I was doing well in school, if I got good grades, and I told him, ‘Okay naman. ’ Actually, hindi. You see, my Dad was very particular about our grades. Gusto niya mataas. "

• The Last Time He Told a Lie

"I cannot recall any incident lately where I could have told a lie. " (Asked if he was "lying" when he hinted, very vaguely though, that he’s not running in 2004 during an ambush TV interview, FPJ simply blushed. No comment. – RFL)

• The First Foreign City That He Visited

"Tokyo. Many years ago. Binata pa ako noon. I remember ang daming nightclubs noon doon. At that time, I often went to Japan and to Hawaii. I even shot a movie (Hawaiian Boy, with Eddie Mesa) in Hawaii. "

• The Last Foreign City That He Visited

"Hong Kong. .. A few years ago. "

• The First Time He Prayed Really Hard

"Several years ago when I learned that a friend of my sister had leukemia. She would visit my sister at our house then in UP Village (Quezon City) and that was how I learned that she was suffering from leukemia. "

• The Last Time He Prayed Really Hard

"Lately. What do I usually pray for? For guidance. .. for my family. A day will come when we will all go . .. na magkakahiwa-hiwalay tayo. . when we’ll all pass away. .. and I pray that my family and I will be together again somewhere else. I think that’s what most everybody is praying for – for that grand family reunion elsewhere. I also pray for world peace. Ang gulo ng mundo ngayon, so we have to pray for world peace. "

• The First Song He Ever Liked

"Because of You by Tony Bennett. (Proceeds to sing a line, Because of you, there’s a song in my heart.) I love that song. Later, when I heard She-boom, She-boom, I also liked it. "

• The Latest Song That He Likes

"A lot . .. Those by Martin (Nievera), Shawie (Sharon Cuneta), Regine (Velasquez), Aiza (Seguerra). In fact, in Alamat, the four kids and I sing an Aiza Seguerra song, Palagay Ko Mahal Kita. Do Susan and I have a theme song? Yes, we have, but it’s not Ang Daigdig Ko’y Ikaw like what many people think. It’s actually Somewhere in Your Heart. (Again proceeds to sing a line, Somewhere in your heart, try to find a place for me). "

• The First Time He Ever Sang

"A long time ago, in the movie Og Sa Mindoro (starring Jesus ‘Og’ Ramos. I don’t even remember what the song was. I also sang Look, Dick, Look with Niño (Muhlach) in the movie Ang Leon at ang Daga, with Susan in Langit at Lupa and with Shawie in Kahit Konting Pagtingin. Do I sing in the bathroom? No, I don’t. "

• The Last Time He Sang

"During the shooting of Alamat, on the way to the location. I drove for the kids and we sang together in the car. The four kids play superheroes in Alamat; para din sila mga bida. "

• The First Major Decision He Has Ever Made

"I can’t recall any. Wala pa yata. "

• The Latest Major Decision He Has Made

(Simply smiles. No comment. Still to come? Stand by!)

• The First Time He Got Embarrassed

"A long time ago. It happened at the Aristocrat Restaurant. May ka-date ako (unidentified). I ran short of money. The waiter came to my rescue; he helped me with the bill. I went back soon after to pay him back. "

• The Last Time He Got Embarrassed

"I seldom go out; I stay home (in Greenhills) most of the time, or in Antipolo (his rest house). So I don’t get into any embarrassing situation. Come to think of it, if it’s an embarrassing situation, your tendency is to forget all about it. Embarrassing kasi, e!"

• The First Toy That He Ever Played With

"Teks. That was the craze among kids at that time. Ang pamato ko noon Phantom. "

• The Last Toy That He Ever Played With

"Susan and I used to play Pacman, the video game. We prefer to solve crossword puzzles or play Monopoly or Scrabble. "

• The First Time He Rode a Plane

"I think it was a trip to Bacolod. And then, nasundan n’ung madalas kung pagpunta-punta sa Japan at Hawaii. No, it’s not true that I have a fear of flying. I don’t know where that rumor came from. It might be because lately I haven’t really been going out of the country. " (But he rode all sorts of planes, including light ones, when he campaigned for his friend, former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada, first for Senator, then for Vice President and then for President. – RFL)

• The Last Time He Rode a Plane

"Very recently when I went to Bohol (for the shooting of some scenes in Alamat, with the Chocolate Hills as back-drop). "

• The First Lesson That He Learned From His Dad

"Never be a quitter. "

• The Last Lesson That He Learned From His Mom

"It’s not really a lesson but more of a reminder. My Mom was a peaceful woman; very gentle, very artistic. She love(s); yes, she love(s)! She always reminded us brothers and sisters to be sincere. She taught me how to love. "

• The First Time He Laughed Very Hard

"During the days of (the late) Dencio Padilla and Pablo Virtuso (who were permanent fixtures in FPJ movies, providing the light, ‘laugh-ful’ scenes). Sometimes, I couldn’t deliver my lines because I kept laughing and laughing. I miss those two guys. The moment nag-adlib na sila, wala na. Talagang I got a stomachache from laughing and laughing. "

• The Last Time He Laughed Very Hard

"When we were shooting Alamat. We were driving to the set and one of the four kids, the smallest one, was telling a story very casually. Hindi siya nagyayabang; he was just relating the story naturally. But he did it in so innocent and spontaneous a manner that really made me laugh. Very fluid kasi ang pagkaka-kuwento niya. "

• The First Car He Has Ever Driven

"A Chevrolet. 1950s pa ’yon. "

• The Last Car He Has Driven

"A 1998 Navigator. I have a driver but most of the time I drive. "

• The First Time He Felt Guilty

"I cannot think of any. There must have been some instances when I felt guilty. But as I’ve said, kapag negative, kinakalimutan ko na. "

• The Last Time He Felt Guilty

"I also cannot recall any. "

• The First Time He Felt He Was in Real Danger

"When I got sick a long time ago. I was already in showbiz then. "

• The Last Time He Felt He Was in Danger

"None that I can remember. "

• The First Thing He Does Upon Waking Up

"Susan and I are early riser. After brushing my teeth and washing my face, Susan and I linger in bed. We just talk, exchange stories. We’re up at around 4:30 a. m. or 5 a. m. Kuwento-kuwento lang kami ni Susan. We rise earlier than the sun. And then we wait for the papers to be brought to us. We read together in bed and we exchange ideas about issues of the day. That’s before 6 a. m. And then we have coffee together. She tells me kung ano ang lakad niya for the day and I also tell her kung ano ang lakad ko. "

• The Last Thing He Does Before Going to Sleep

"I pray. "

Source: The Philippine Star