Manila, Nov. 17, 2001 - (STAR) PENMAN by Butch Dalisay - Like her millions of other fans, I, too, was deeply shocked and saddened by the murder of Nida Blanca last week. I hardly knew her on a personal basis, and while I followed the Nida-Nestor Show back in the ‘60s, I haven’t seen more than a few of the 160-plus movies she made in her lifetime.

I did, however, have the privilege of writing the scripts for two movies in which she acted–Miguelito, ang Batang Rebelde (1985), where she played a young Aga Muhlach’s oppressed mother, and Tayong Dalawa, a few years later, where she played the comic foil as housemaid to career girl Sharon Cuneta. She won a raft of well-deserved awards for her performance in Miguelito, which was a relatively low-budget movie that the late Lino Brocka had been asked by Aga’s dad to do to launch his teenage son’s career, and which turned out to be one of my personal favorites among the 14 or 15 scripts I wrote for Lino.

Nida’s husband Rod Lauren probably won’t remember this, but we played darts together many times in the early 1980s, when Rod had a business manufacturing and selling darts supplies. Once or twice Nida turned up, but she generally let Rod just have his fun with the boys.

But it wasn’t in any of these tangential capacities that my most memorable meeting with Nida Blanca took place. That happened much earlier–some 38 years ago, when I was nine and in the second grade. My class was having an "excursion" (funny how that word’s slipped out of Filipino usage–somehow it brings back images of ukuleles and straw hats with your name lettered on them) in Forest Hills in Quezon City; in those days, anything 10 kilometers from school in Greenhills (or Gilmore Ave., as we used to call it) was worthy of an excursion.

I remember being in a maroon-striped polo shirt and khaki shorts, and marching up a hill to locate the source of a brewing commotion. There was a movie shooting–and Nida Blanca was in it!

I saw her seated in a chair–bright and fresh and pretty, and younger than my mom; I was entranced, but found the presence of mind and the gumption to pull out a notepad from my pocket (that tells you what I was going to be, for the rest of my life) and to go up to her to ask for an autograph. She signed my pad with a smile, and I thanked her–I had to, I must have–and ran back down the hill to my friends, delirious with success.

I remember that day well because, somewhere in the picture albums my mom kept for me, is a snapshot that a classmate took of me coming down that hill, fresh from my first encounter with a real live movie star–who just happened to be, come to think of it now, Miss Nida Blanca. Too bad I’ve lost that notepad and the autograph–along with the boy who had them.

To Rod and Nida’s family, my deepest sympathies.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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