MANILA, OCTOBER 14, 2011 (STAR) FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo (PHOTO - Susan Roces as RiteMED ambassadress in the TV and print commercials)

In the picture on this page, it looks as if Susan Roces (described variously as The Forever Queen of Philippine Movies, The Face That Refreshes and The Prettiest First Lady That The Philippines Almost But Never Had) is trying to stop something. Could it be, uhmmmm, the investigation into the cheating allegations in the 2004 presidential elections in which her late husband, Fernando Poe “Da King” Jr., is widely believed to have been cheated?

Actually, no. That’s how Susan (as “ambassadress” and not just “endorser”) looks in the RiteMED TV commercial and what she’s saying is, “Bawal ang Mahal!” mahal na gamot, that is, that’s why she’s encouraging the public to patronize RiteMED medicines which don’t hurt the pocket so much.

As expected from the inquisitive movie press, at yesterday’s RiteMED presscon Susan was asked not only about her health regimen (what vitamins she’s taking, etc.) but also about certain issues that she has so far withheld comment on, such as the alleged cheating in the controversial 2004 (and 2007) elections, especially the dagdag-bawas that robbed Da King of his rightful victory, perpetrators of which might be hauled off to court before the year is over.

First, how she has maintained that refreshing face which is, as far as I know, touched only by make-up and not by cosmetic surgery.

Any beauty secrets?

“I want to thank my parents for the genes that I inherited from them,” said Susan. “Kung ano ‘yung nakikita n’yo sa akin ay namana ko sa kanila. My health habits are simple follow a healthy diet and as much as possible huwag magpuyat kung hindi kailangan.” She has cut-off time: 12 midnight (her shoot sked usually starts after the crack of dawn), although as a producer herself, she understands that the shoot could extend several minutes beyond that. Ever punctual (she arrived at 10 o’clock for yesterday’s 11:30 a.m. presscon), Susan is known for showing up on the set way ahead of call time, fully made-up, ready with her lines, ready to shoot.

Inevitably, she was asked if she would be willing to work with Lovi Poe (photo), Da King’s love daughter who is one of today’s most popular, most talented and, should we say, most daring young actresses (take note of her revealing dresses in showbiz functions and her seductive pose with an elephant, photographed in Bangkok, in the latest issue of FHM).

“In my time,” said Susan, “when I was just starting, never akong tumanggi makatrabaho ang sinumang artista kaya hindi ko gagawin na tumanggi sa sinumang artista ngayon,” including Lovi, adding, “about Lovi, I’m happy with the way she’s doing in her career, she’s being responsible for whatever way she conducts herself. She’s a good actress and she even has an award already. I wish her well.”

I congratulated Susan for her daughter Grace Poe-Llamanzares’ good record as head of MTRCB (Movies and Television Review and Classification Board) and for being the “spokesperson” of the family especially on issues concerning Da King’s political career. I reminded Susan that Grace has been quoted in the news as saying that her wish is for historians to include a footnote that Da King (photo) “was duly-elected President of the Republic of the Philippines” in the 2004 elections but was barred by alleged cheating from sitting as such.

Does Susan agree with Grace’s “official statement?”

“I will speak in general huh,” Susan spoke slowly, weighing her every word. “History books are used as reference so whenever I read history books and I see something wrong, I always think that it, especially if a wrong information, should be corrected, para malinaw. Kapag hindi mo inilagay sa tama, parang kino-condone mo ‘yung ginawang pandaraya.”

Told that a mere footnote doesn’t suffice to correct a grave mistake (nay, crime!) in Philippine history and that the case deserves a whole chapter, Susan smiled, “Well, it depends on the historians. Alam mo, ang history depende kung sino ang sumusulat, kaya nga ‘His Story,’ eh.”

The topic was getting heavy and too serious, so I steered the interview toward something light her love life.

“Malamig,” Susan laughed, joking, “ang pasko.”

In December, Susan commemorates the death of Da King (on the 14th, the seventh this year) but also celebrates two events in her life her elopement with Da King and their wedding on Christmas Day.

“Ronnie (Da King) and I didn’t plan things to happen on that month,” said Susan, “nagkataon lang. We eloped on Dec. 16 (1968) and we got married in church on Dec. 25 (Christmas Day, same year). After we eloped to Bulacan, we went straight to church but the priest refused to marry us. He said, ‘You should have a marriage license before I can marry you,’ dahil daw marami nang couples na nagpakasal sa simbahan and then nagri-reklamo later on na married na pala ‘yung isa sa kanila.”

So she and Da King sought out then Mayor Jess Angeles (of a Bulacan town, related to the late director-producer Pablo Santiago, Da King’s good friend) to get a marriage license.

“When we arranged the church wedding, the church available was the Manila Cathedral, so we got married there.”

And what is it about Da King that Susan misses the most?

She thought for a while and said, “I don’t want to cry,” before answering, “Like other widows, na mi-miss ko na wala akong kayakap sa gabi, so,” she continued on a light vein, “yumayakap na lang ako ng maraming tao sa pamamagitan ng RiteMED.”

The RiteMED blurb says, “Bawal ang mahal.”

In Susan’s personal life, is it bawal magmahal?’

She broke into a wide smile and said, “Bawal ang mahal pero hindi bawal ang mahalin.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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