MANILA, October 11, 2003  (STAR) By Mario E. Bautista  - Her name (in gay lingo) became synonymous with losing, but now, Luz Valdez is a winner. She will receive the Philippine Movie Press Club’s Ading Fernando Lifetime Achievement Award to be held at the UP Theater tonight, and telecast on RPN-9.

Luz – Milagros Bernardo in real life – was born on Sept. 9, 1940. In 1957, wanting to help her parents financially, she applied at the top three film studios of that era: LVN Pictures, Sampaguita Pictures and Premiere Productions.

"It was LVN that responded first," Luz recalls, "and when I went to their studio, I met Director Susana de Guzman who turned out to be an acquaintance of my mother. She gave me a screen test and I passed. The late LVN matriarch, Doña Sisang, gave me my screen name. They were looking for a replacement for their teen actress, Nenita Vidal, for the love team of Manding Claro, so I was introduced as Manding’s partner in Ay Pepita. We played second leads to Mario Montenegro and Nita Javier. I played more second lead roles in Masusunod o Hindi, Teenage Crush, Sa Puso Ni Bathala, Ana Maria and Casa Grande. On my 18th birthday, Doña Sisang’s birthday gift to me was my first starring role in Combo Festival, opposite Lou Salvador, Jr. then billed as the James Dean of the Philippines. We were with Hector Reyes and Chona Sandoval."

This led to more starring roles in Tuko sa Madre Kakaw (a film about a monster lizard), Tanglaw sa Dilim, Jikiri and Tatlong Komando (with her idol Pancho Magalona). Then, she was given her first title role, Chinita, opposite Nestor de Villa. She was also paired with Robert Campos, a budding actor, in Navy Blues and Luis Latigo, both topbilled by Pancho, and their solo-starrer, Banal o Makasalanan. Romance blossomed between them even off the set and they were married in 1965.

In the late ’50s, Luz also started appearing on television.

"I did several shows before I was given my first regular show on ABS-CBN in 1961, Sa Kabukiran, produced by Atty. Narciso Pimentel," Luz continues. "It was one of the top 10 shows in the ratings during the ’60s. It was a musical comedy where I was paired with Luis Gonzales and we had Bentot, Cachupoy and Aruray with us. We were dressed in Filipiniana costumes singing Tagalog songs, doing comedy skits, and dancing local folk dances. It ran for 12 years until martial law was declared and ABS-CBN was closed, so we moved to GMA 7, which was allowed to continue airing. The show became Basta Ikaw Mahal which ran for seven years. At the same time, I had a noontime show, Kuwentong Kutsero, also on GMA, that ran for four years. For a while, I also co-hosted another noontime variety show, Darigold Jamboree. I had the chance to work with the late Ading Fernando in the sitcom, Apartment 153-A, which ran for four years at ABS-CBN. I am really so blessed because I was never ran out of TV shows. For a while, I retired and went to the US. But then, I got another call from GMA 7, asking me to come back to play the role of Bong Revilla’s mother in the sitcom, Idol Ko Si Kap, which is now going on for three years and rating very well."

Luz’s marriage to Robert Campos (Donato in real life) ended in separation in 1986.

"But we remain good friends," she stresses. "Since then, I never had any other boyfriend and I just devoted my life to our kids and serving the Lord with the Oasis of Love. I teach catechism to children every weekend. I have two canteens at the the CAP Bldg. of Atty. Enrique Sobrepena in Makati which I manage."

Her eldest, Maria Rosario Malek Donato-Morales, is now the mother of two pretty girls: Danielle Marie, seven, and Denise, two. Her granddaughters are Luz’s pride and joy. Her only son, Robbie, who also tried the movies for a while, went to the US for a couple of years but returned home and remains unmarried at 34 to keep his mother company.

"At this point in my life, I really cannot ask for anything more," Luz ends. "I’ve had my share of family problems but the Lord has been very kind in helping me solve them all, so I am now devoting most of my life to serving Him."

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved