PINKY DE LEON FINDS NEW LOVE IN AMERICA

[PHOTO - Pinky de Leon and husband Tom Coyle: Lovelier the second time around]

LOS ANGELES, MAY 14, 2011 (STAR) FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo - When my friends Tim Evans (of the US Immigration) and immigration lawyer Jemela Nettles invited me to “a birthday party” Saturday night, April 30, after I attended the screening of Columbia Pictures’ Priest (I was there to interview its stars led by Paul Bettany), I didn’t expect it to be a reunion with long-time showbiz friends now based in the US.

We were headed for the home of Gigi Garcia (one of Villar Records’ top-selling contract singers in the late ’60s, who starred in movies including one for Nepomuceno Productions) who was hosting a party for the celebrator, her husband Vincent Kocher.

Among the well-wishers was a glowing Pinky de Leon with her husband, Tom Coyle, who is so tall that he towered over Pinky.

(Gigi and husband Vincent Kocher, the birthday celebrator, inset: Gigi showing off the Louis Vuitton cake.)

Other guests included members and officers of Annak Ti Candon International, Inc. headed by Omar de Peralta and George A. Dy; and, as Gigi jokingly put it, “isang barangay ng mga Asistio.” Gigi has an Asistio in her past and, she said, “I maintain a cordial relationship with them, so kahit saan kami magkita-kita okey pa rin kami. No bad blood.

My daughter (with Boy A.) and her Asistio cousins are close. I don’t burn bridges. My husband Vincent understands.” Pinky (third from right) and Gigi Garcia (fourth from left) with guests including Tim Evans (of the US Immigration) and Immigration lawyer Jemela Nettles (first and second from left), and Mary Ann Pagsibigan (third from left) (PHOTO MISSING)

As in any such Filipino salu-salo in the US, besides the buffet table heaving with mouth-watering Filipino dishes and goodies, highlighted with a Louis Vuitton-inspired cake, there was endless singing and karaoke sing-along — and bated-breath exchanging of stories about home, sweet home.

Pinky and Tom stuck to each other on the sofa, looking like a couple on extended honeymoon even if they’ve been married for almost four years (since 2007). Gigi and husband Vincent Kocher, the birthday celebrator, inset: Gigi showing off the Louis Vuitton cake.

“We met in church,” said Pinky who was as beautiful and as seductive as she was when she was active in showbiz. “We were two right people meeting at the right place at the right time. I was free and so was Tom who had been single for 18 years. He didn’t know until much later that I was an actress and a singer. I just told him that I loved to sing.”

Tom has three children (now with their own families) from a previous marriage and so does Pinky, one of whom is Tonyboy Lejano who was one of the seven acquitted by the Supreme Court in the celebrated Vizconde massacre case before Christmas last year.

“It ended more than 15 years of agony for me and the families of the six other guys,” said Pinky. “During those years, I left everything in the hands of God. I hung on to God; wala akong ibang kinapitan kundi ang pangako ng Panginoon.”

(Pinky (third from right) and Gigi Garcia (fourth from left) with guests including Tim Evans (of the US Immigration) and Immigration lawyer Jemela Nettles (first and second from left), and Mary Ann Pagsibigan (third from left) with a dozen Asistio relatives)

The Department of Justice is reinvestigating the case and may present a new witness.

“It took my son three days to realize that he was finally free. He didn’t sleep for three nights. He said that he was afraid that when he woke up, he would find out that it was all a dream.”

Although she and Tom would go home to the Philippines every year, the last having been in December last year, Pinky said that she’s happily settled in the US, and so is Gigi who runs a care-home business. with a dozen Asistio relatives. Above,

Asked if they ever missed showbiz, they said of course they did. It’s already in the blood, you know.

Before we left, Tim, Jemela and I listened to a few more singing and took a few spoonfuls of fruit salad.

“Gawa ko ‘yan,” boasted Gigi, “kaya masarap ‘yan.”

It tasted like home.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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