HOW LUCHI CRUZ-VALDEZ SPENT HER 'FORCED' VACATION
Manila, October 24, 2002 (STAR) FUNFARE by Ricardo F. Lo - Curtain-raisers:
ē My Latin DPA huffed and puffed the good news that Marc Anthony and Dayanara Torres have reconciled (they were reported to have separated, remember?) and are slated to renew their vows soon. Letís wish them good luck and a hundred years of blissful togetherness.
ē This is an advertisement for myself. Try playing a little "showbiz game" on your Globe unit. Text "BI" to 2980 for juicy showbiz tidbits/trivia or text GUESS also to 2980 to join a contest with interesting prizes at stake (major one is a trip to Singapore). You may also exercise your brain a bit by figuring out who the blind items are referring to. Okay, game ka na ba, bayan? Text na!
ē Regal Matriarch Mother Lily just flew in from a week-long trip to Shanghai where she supervised the shooting of some scenes for Regalís Metro Filmfest entry, the epic drama Mano Po, directed by Joel Lamangan, which features 20 big stars, most of them required to deliver dialogues in Chinese.
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When Luchi Cruz-Valdez quit her post (Production Unit Manager of GMA-7-7) late last year, she did it in good faith.
Or so she thought.
"I asked for their permission, I turned over my files and I was cleared by the various departments. By allowing me to leave, they virtually terminated my contract; I appealed to their humanitarian sense to waive it (contract was to expire Aug. 20, 2002). I followed the law by tendering my resignation 30 days before its effectivity. It was an amicable parting."
Or so Luchi thought.
Barely had she warmed her seat at ABS-CBN as Vice President for News, Luchi got the shock of her life when GMA-7-7 filed an injunction against her (and ABS-CBN), with another case (of breach of contract) slapped on her, forcing her to go on "indefinite" vacation. Eight months to be exact, from Dec. 28, 2001 to Aug. 20 this year.
Luchi worked for GMA-7-7 for three years; before that, for 10 years as co-host of PROBE Team with Cheche Lazaro who produces the show as a blocktimer.
"Initially," recalled Luchi, "I didnít have any contract with GMA-7, like most everybody. The company decided to put out contracts for all employees only after Karen Davila, David Jude "DJ" Sta. Ana, Gin de Mesa and others began moving to ABS-CBN two years ago. Maybe management thought they were losing their people to the other station so they thought of putting everybody under contract. That was on my third year with the company. Everybody signed, so I did. Two months after signing it, I got the offer from ABS-CBN. Itís a good offer, so I accepted it. But first, I duly informed the GMA-7 management about it. Iíve been with the company for years and I acknowledged my debt of gratitude to them."
And then came the injunction...
While the "breach of contract" case is pending in court, yet to be heard, the injunction case became moot and academic with the expiration of Luchiís GMA-7 contract last Aug. 20, prompting the "grounded" Luchi to resume work at ABS-CBN.
"I miss my eight-month Ďforcedí vacation," Luchi told Funfare. "It turned out to be a blessing in disguise and I did the most enjoyable thing Ė I got pregnant (due to deliver first week of January, 2003)."
It was the first time in 21 years of working that Luchi relished being a plain housewife, taking care of her husband, Lito Valdez (an IT marketing manager), and their two sons, Joseph, 11, and Joachim, 8, who are enrolled in the elite Waldorf (German School) which adopts the Rudolf Steiner philosophy of teaching, a totally different approach to education that trains not only the mind and the heart but also the will. Waldorf is the same school where the children of Gina Lopez and Gabby Lopez study.
"Joseph is in Grade 5; he plays the violin," said the proud mom, "while Joachim is in Grade 2."
For somebody ever on the go, being "grounded" could be a torture. Happily, Luchi adjusted to her "idleness" with a big smile; it was a welcome respite.
"I discovered that I was a menial-task person. I spent my time cleaning and painting the house inside-out. I painted and repainted every nook and cranny until I got pregnant and I couldnít work with paint anymore. I found relief in doing menial jobs. Iím a crafts person and my job requires a lot of brain work. But then, I found relief in doing menial jobs. I found working with my hands very therapeutic."
It was also a time of rediscovery.
"Being present for my family was a wonderful experience, something I realized I missed during the many years Iíve been working. I helped bring my kids to school; I puttered around the house like crazy. I organized my things; I fixed our family albums; I arranged my notes in the computer. Now my bodega is in order, very organized. And Iím telling my friends, ĎTake a break; donít kill yourselves on the job.í And the best thing was, of course, having another baby."
Her "injunction" baby, that is.
For a while after finishing Masscom at UP, Luchi worked at San Miguel before moving to RPN 9 as newscaster of the Newswatch Filipino Edition, at the same time doubling as a field reporter from 1982 to 1985 when Ferdinand Marcos called for the snap elections.
"At that time," said Luchi, "several media organizations came to the Philipines, one of them ABC News for which I and Cheche (Lazaro, her professor at UP) worked as field reporters."
When Cory Aquino took over, ABS-CBN reopened and hired Cheche as head of Public Affairs Department. Cheche in turn hired Luchi. In 1988, Cheche put up PROBE which had to be renamed PROBE Team a year later when it moved to its present home, GMA-7, where Luchi also co-hosted other shows with Cheche, including I-Witness (along with Jessica Soho and Vicky Morales).
Heavy with her third child, Luchi is adjusting to working inside an office in stark contrast to her work as host/reporter which kept her outside most of the time, travelling not only from Aparri to Jolo but to every corner of the world for PROBE Team coverages with Cheche.
Now, doesnít a hyper-active person like Luchi feel claustrophobic in her new job (same one she did at GMA-7)?
"Eventually," smiled Luchi, "I hope to get back on the air."
That, ladies and gentlemen, is where she really belongs.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2002 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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