Armando's wish: A Cadillac for his 'last ride'

FUNFARE UPDATE By Ricardo F. Lo, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 10 2011 02:03 PM | Updated as of Mar 10 2011 10:05 PM

MANILA, Philippines - More than 30 years before Dustin Hoffman dressed like a woman in Tootsie (1982) and 40 years before Robin Williams followed suit in Mrs. Doubtfire (1992), there was Armando Goyena cross-dressing while trying to win the heart of Tessie Quintana in the 1952 romantic-comedy Tia Loleng, produced by LVN Pictures which discovered him in 1949.

Of course, his fans also remember Armando for other trend-setting roles such as a Pinoy Superman in Kidlat Ngayon (1954), also by LVN, in which he wore tights, a costume that has been re-invented through the decades, with Richard Gutierrez reprising a similar role in the comeback of Captain Barbell on GMA.

But his eight children — Maritess, Tina, Johnny, Cecilia, Pita, Rossi, Malu and Cita — will always remember Armando as a loving father perhaps more than as the Last Golden Boy of Philippine Movies, widowed 10 years ago when his wife Paquita Roces, the original Camay Girl (Maritess would endorse the same beauty soap years later), died of a muscle-related ailment. It was Paquita who arranged Armando’s pictures and clippings of articles very neatly in several scrapbooks.

When Armando died at 88 yesterday afternoon at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center, he didn’t have any memory about almost anything whatsoever, not even recognizing his children because of the Alzheimer’s Disease that started gnawing at his memory in the late ‘90s when he was shooting Regal Films’ Yamashita: The Tiger’s Treasure for which he won his first and only award, as a FAMAS Best Supporting Actor. Soon after, Armando quietly retired from showbiz after more than a century of a checkered career.

“I had to accompany him to the set because he started being forgetful,” Johnny told Funfare Update. “That was when symptoms of his Alzheimer’s started manifesting.”

As cross-dresser in Tia Loleng, shown 30 years before Dustin Hoffman played the same role in Tootsie (1982) and 40 years before Robin Williams also did in Mrs. Doubtfire (1992).

Monday night, Armando complained of breathing difficulty, so he was rushed to the hospital.

But before Alzheimer’s could totally rob him of his memory, Armando started writing letters to his children and other loved ones, enumerating his worries, his concerns and his wishes.

“As a joke,” recalled Johnny, one of the only three Revillas who followed in their father’s footsteps to showbiz, “he said that he wanted to be driven in a Cadillac for his last ride. He also wanted to be cremated.”

Wish granted. Armando’s remains will be driven in a Cadillac to the crematorium on Saturday, March 12, after a morning Mass at the Santuario de San Jose in Forbes Park, Makati City where the wake is being held. Paquita died on March 13.

“Our mom probably came down to fetch our dad,” surmised Johnny to whom Armando entrusted his clothes which Johnny can’t wear because he’s a few sizes bigger than his father’s.

“My dad belonged to the old school,” added Johnny, “and every time he went out, he was always posturyoso.”

Born Jose Teodoro Iruyetagoyena Revilla, Armando graduated with a Commerce degree from La Salle. He was discovered by Doña Narcisa “Sisang” de Leon, the grand old lady of LVN Pictures, who introduced him in Puting Bantayog (1949) and launched him in his first-starring role in Maria Beles (with Celia Flor, 1949).

He starred in several pictures, the most memorable of which included Pagtutuus (1951), Mr. Talisman (1951), Tia Loleng (1952), Hawayana (1953) and Kidlat Ngayon (1954), all with Tessie Quintana; Pag-asa (1950, with Priscilla Cellona); Banda Uno (1955, with Nita Javier, Nenita Vidal and Manding Claro); and Anak ng Berdugo (1955) and Laging Ikaw (1956) with Cecilia Lopez.

Three of Armando’s eight children who followed in his footsteps to showbiz: Maritess Revilla, Johnny Revilla and Tina Revilla.

Aside from his eight children, Armando is survived by his 29 grandchildren (two of them actors Bernard Palanca and Mico Palanca) and 12 great-grandchildren.

(E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph or at entphilstar@yahoo.com)