Fernando Poe Jr. was his idol. What the late King of Philippine Movies did, former action star Tony Bernal emulated.
When Poe became director, Bernal would follow suit. At the time Poe threw his hat into the political ring, Bernal was helping his wife Joy Trinio in her work as a barangay kagawad in Quiapo.
Poe got to act with Bernal when the latter was starting his movie career in the early ‘70s and he was making name for himself in martial arts fare with Rey Malonzo, Robert Lee and other karatekas.
Is it only accidental that Bernal would suffer the same tragic fate—death by brain aneurism?
“Parehong-pareho ni ‘manager’ (Poe’s pet name),” said Trinio who has been Bernal’s life partner for almost 10 years.
Trinio was shaking her head as she recounted her husband’s last moments.
“Mga alas singko y medya ng umaga no’ng Sunday (March 8) nang sumpungin siya,” she recalled.
Bernal collapsed at once after he trembled, according to Trinio, and a house help had to bring him down from the fourth floor of the building along Avenida Rizal where the couple was staying.
The victim was rushed to Philippine General Hospital but Trinio was informed right there that Bernal got a slim chance of survival.
“Pero ipinahanda ko pa rin ang ICU. Lahat ginawa ko. Bumili pa ako ng pump para sa kanya,” Trinio said in between sighs.
Two neurologists were assigned to Bernal. “Ipina-CT scan ko rin siya sa tapat ng PGH,” she informed.
Until now, she could not accept his death, she confessed.
“Parang may trauma ako,” she said, again shaking her head. “I feel na para akong nakalutang. Dito nga, parang nakikita ko pa siya na lumalabas ng pinto,” she related referring to the Lopez Memorial Services in Sta. Cruz, Manila.
The wife still vividly remembered the blood oozing from the nose, eyes and ears of her husband.
“May nakita na akong gano’n pero pag pala asawa mo, iba ang pakiramdam. Para akong nauupos na kandila. Hindi ko alam kung saan ako susuling. Gusto ko siyang buhayin,” she said.
Bernal expired at 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
Bernal is survived by his wife and three children from his first marriage, one of them action starlet Jack Bernal. He’s a widower when he married Trinio but they have no kids.
At the time of his death, he was conceptualizing a film based on Poe's life. His last directorial job was “Lisensiyadong Kamao,” a Manny Pacquiao movie produced by Violett Films.
Bernal also directed “Pelukang Itim” with Alma Moreno and Eddie Gil for his own movie outfit. He also did the film bio of Maganto with Jestoni Alarcon playing a police officer.
Bernal will be interred at the Himlayang Pilipino in Tandang Sora on March 15 at 9 a.m. He was 58.