Quezon City, Oct. 9, 2001 - I think it is rather unfair and unkind for some people to say that Ricky Belmonte died of a broken heart. I have heard that he was "abandoned" by his loved ones and he was a very lonely man. I know that Ricky was living all by himself after he left his longtime residence in Valle Verde.

It was the scene of some of the liveliest parties in the past, because Ricky was a very cordial host who made everyone at home. His house, which was also home for children - Sheryl, Wowie, and Patrick - was full of love even when Ricky and Rosemarie, the loveteam of the late '60s, was already having domestic problems. Ricky and Rosemarie managed to hide the problems from the public, and I honestly thought that Ricky refused to heed the warning signs.

Ricky truly loved his family and his kids and loved being a father. Rosemarie seemed so happy and content that while she and Ricky were no longer the toast and the idols of the screaming fans, Sheryl has taken over Rosemarie's place and was the most popular young star in the middle '80s with Romnick Sarmenta.

Ricky seemed to bask in the glow of the fans' adulation of his daughter and to tolerate the fans' demands on Sheryl's stardom, like camping inside and outside the Belmonte household.

When Rosemarie left for the United States purportedly for a vacation, there was no inkling that she would not return to Ricky, that they would separate, divorce and there would be some kind of brouhaha when the entire story was brought to the press by some enterprising reporter who tracked down Rosemarie with a new husband in San Francisco. Ricky tried to hide the "scandal" and was somewhat successful. And by the time it was out in the open, the interest had faded.

Ricky enjoyed nurturing Sheryl's blossoming career and was set to launch the career of Wowie, who was also manifesting the same professional sheen that Ricky has developed in his teenage years as a matinee idol. Ricky loved the limelight, he loved entertaining friends, and he loved to be in the middle of filmdom's happy and busy crowd. He was the prize star of Sampaguita Pictures, along with Dindo Fernando, Bert Le Roy, Pepito Rodriguez, Rosemarie Sonora, and Gina Pareno. They were the most popular teenage stars of the era.

Sheryl accomplished the same kind pf popularity as she became a Regal baby and later queen of the Seiko lot before Seiko became a home of bold queens.

Ricky loved to manage his children's careers, and when Wowie returned from the United States for a vacation, he quickly got him a mainstay role in a new comedy series starring Gloria Diaz, Eddie Gutierrez, Sharmaine Arnaiz and Lilian Laing. Later Wowie appeared as leading man to Regal ladies like Alice Dixson, Aiko Melendez, etc. Wowie, now called Renzo, did not exactly turn out to be a star material much to Ricky's disappointment, but Ricky kept plugging for Sheryl's career.

Ricky himself had embarked on a new career, playing character parts and occasional lead roles in heavy dramatic projects. But people will always remember him as an entertainer - a musician, a singer, and a very kind person.

I have been beneficiary to a lot of his thoughtfulness and of lanzones or a box of candies, reminding me of his birthday, which happens to be Christmas Eve. Usually a party would be going on. We lost touch when I moved but I was told by a friend that he had hopes that Sheryl would continue her career after she married that policeman from San Francisco, California.

Ricky never complained, although I guess he had a lot to complain about.

So goodbye, Jess, God keep you. (Oscar Miranda, Malaya)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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