Philippine Red Cross chairman and Senatoriable Richard ‘Dick’ Gordon with Regal Matriarch Mother Lily Monteverde, his ardent believer and supporter]

MANILA, NOVEMBER 19, 2012 (PHILSTAR) FUNFARE By Ricky Lo - Did you know that besides Regal Matriarch Mother Lily Monteverde, Dick Gordon has strong showbiz connections?

Mother Lily and her daughter Roselle, together with Marian Rivera, are supporting Dick in his projects as governor of Philippine Red Cross (since 1986). Dick is running again for senator in next year’s elections and Mother Lily is all-out behind him, even hosting a presscon among movie reporters for him recently.

So what’s Dick’s other showbiz connection?

A lot and he tells us what.

“My family owned and operated several movie theaters in Olongapo. I was exposed to many facets of the movie industry. At a young age, I experienced becoming an usher, a ticket seller, a ticket porter and I learned to operate the movie projector. I also sold candies, popcorn and soda in the lobby.

“As a young man working on my law degree in UP, I booked pictures for theaters and I would pick up the movie reels and posters in Avenida, Rizal (where all distributors were at the time), put them on a Victory Liner bus headed to Olongapo.

“When I graduated from law school, I became a lawyer for the Greater Manila Theater Association (GMTA). This was before the advent of mall cinemas. I got to know long-time friends like Johnny Litton, Bobby Young, Larry Amante, Don Marquitos Roces and William Cheng.

“I worked with Pres. Joseph Estrada’s JE Productions run by his brother Jesse Ejercito, Dolphy’s RVQ Productions, Fernando Poe Jr.’s FPJ Productions, Vilma Santos’ VS Films and the Revillas’ Imus Productions — all of which were run by superstars — and also Remy Monteverde, whose super entrepreneur wife Lily, would head the formidable Regal Films.

“Later on, I would be lawyer for PARI. Here, I met and became life-long friends with James Dy of Dyna Records, Bell Films; Orly Ilacad of Vicor; Vic del Rosario of Viva Films.

“When I was Mayor of Olongapo, I was very strict against the piracy of movies and cassette recordings.

“When I was chairman of the SBMA, I appeared as myself in a Hollywood movie, Goodbye America.

“My life has always revolved around the movies.

“When I courted my wife, Kate, we would see so many movies together.

“Movies, especially the old movies, taught me a lot of values — chivalry, honor, persistence amid struggle, and having clear paths to take in life. The movies before were clear — you knew who the heroes and villains were. Just like how Jack Ryan (in Clear and Present Danger) says the world is not between black and white, it’s between right and wrong.”

And while he’s at it, I asked Dick a few more showbiz questions, to wit:

What kind of movies does he like?

“I like epic and historical films like The Longest Day, 55 Days at Peking, Braveheart and Glory. I also enjoy action pictures like westerns and adventure movies, the John Ford Trilogy, Rio Grande, Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Warlock, Indiana Jones series, They Were Expendable, Top Gun, The Bourne Series and the James Bond movies.”

What was the first movie that he saw and its impact on him?

“I remember seeing my first movie because it was shown in our theater, Now and Forever starring Armi Kuusela, the first Miss Universe who married a Filipino, Virgilio Hilario. But the one that really made an impact on me and my siblings was The Beast With Five Fingers which was about an avenging hand that strangles the villains in the picture. This movie had a tremendous impact on my siblings and me. It would be the topic of many conversations during Halloween and All Saints’ Day. It would scare me from being alone in my room.

“Later on, I would heartily convince my friends to invest in a movie called And Now the Screaming Starts which is basically a remake of The Beast With Five Fingers. And so this movie also had an economic impact on me because I made money.”

His all-time favorite movie and why?

“There are many, but among them Braveheart stands out. It’s a compelling story, although a bit exaggerated, of a struggle of a small nation. Braveheart depicts the importance of having a lofty and worthy cause, which is always bigger than the individual’s selfish desires. When Scotsman William Wallace tells the nobles that he was going off to war to fight the English while they were fighting over the scraps of land and wealth that the King of England was using to divide and conquer the Scots, he stalked out of the room and tells the nobles, the difference between us is ‘You think the people exist to give you position, I think your position exists to give the people freedom.’

“It’s important that young people see this, especially in our country. Change does not happen in this country because we keep giving our leaders titles or positions. But our so-called leaders do not use their title to give us true political and economic independence. The film is well-made, well-crafted, well-acted and poignant. Above all the message is extremely powerful.”

Favorite actors and actresses (foreign and local)?

“John Wayne, Charlton Heston, Montgomery Clift, Glenn Ford, James Dean, Sean Connery, Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise, Daniel Day-Lewis, Denzel Washington, Susan Hayward (because she looks like my wife), Elizabeth Taylor, Meryl Streep, Charlize Theron and Jennifer Connelly.”

Some foreign movies were shot in Subic during your term as chairman. As senator, how would you attract foreign producers to shoot more movies here?

“First, we have to assure them of the peace and order in our country. Insurance costs go up when they film in a location with questionable peace and order. We need a special office designated to mind the process of foreign film production in the country to make sure all their needs are properly addressed in an expeditious manner. It would also help to have technical facilities in the country to complement the movie-making process like backlots and soundstages that we could rent out. Subic and Clark would be ideal for this because these are freeports that would allow us to bring in equipment that could be stored and rented out for production and processing. It would also mean the country should constantly educate new generations of creative people that foreign movie makers could work with — script writers, cameramen, etc.

“Then we should market the Philippines. It would not be difficult to market. As you know, Apocalypse Now, Too Late The Hero, Chuck Norris movies and, recently, the Bourne Legacy were filmed here. So we do have a track record that is easily marketable to producers abroad. I would also provide tax incentives for at least 20 Filipino films a year that we could also sell abroad.”

There are now five senators from showbiz (Bong, Jinggoy, Lito, Tito and Loren) and three showbiz-identified (by virtue of marriage and “romance”), Kiko, Ralph, Chiz. Does the Senate need more of the same kind?

“The Senate is place where you need competent, honorable statesmen who can communicate their vision and arguments well. It’s easy for a popular man or woman to be elected, you can marry popularity as well, but what we need are extremely competent and deeply experienced senators who know what the national interests are at all times and can make decisions which although may seem unpopular at the moment, be able to use their position to give their people their freedom.”

If your life story were filmed, who would you choose to play Dick and your wife Kate?

“Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera.”

Briefly noted

If Angelica Panganiban is really happy with John Lloyd Cruz (who was also quoted as saying that it’s “possible pala to be this happy,” or words to that effect), why can’t she stop tweeting against her ex-boyfriend Derek Ramsay who has remained cool, saying only positive things about Angelica? Maybe Angelica should get a tip or two from Liz Uy, ex-girlfriend of John Lloyd’s, who has nothing but praises for John Lloyd (in an article that came out recently in a glossy magazine). Well, there’s really a big difference between one to the manner born and one who is not (oops! I’m not saying who is and who is not, but draw your own conclusion). And by the way, what did John Lloyd’s ex-girlfriend Shaina Magdayao do to his credit card that made him blow his top?

Andrew James Peńaflorida Wolff (said to be a cousin of CNN Hero Efren Peńaflorida) is now in Kent, England, to compete against 47 hopefuls in the 2012 Mr. World contest. The Philippine Volcano player/actor/model is highly-favored by pageant aficionados. Andrew is half-British and half-Filipino, personally handpicked by Cory Quirino (Mr. World-Philippines CEO) as the country’s bet. — Reported by Funfare’s “beauty experts” Felix Manuel, Joey Cezeare, Gery Yumping and Francis Calubaquib

Now also abroad is Mark John Gutoman (an educator from Marikina City) who’s competing in the 2012 Mr. International Pageant in Bangkok where only last week another Filipino, June Macasaet, was named 2012 Manhunt International. Previous bets in the contest were: Ken Escudero (semi-finalist, 2006); and Jeff Surio (2008, Top 10), Michael Manuel Manansala (2009), Raphael Cruz Carlos (2010, Top 15) and Francis Oliver Lopez (2011, Top 16), all Mr. Photogenic special awardees. — Also by the “beauty experts”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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