MANILA – Eddie Gutierrez turned emotional as he paid his last respects to Susan Roces, who was his leading lady back in the 1960s.
Delivering his eulogy, Gutierrez recalled one of the fondest moments he had with Roces when they met Elvis Presley in person while they were filming a movie in the United States.
“While we were shooting in downtown Las Vegas, may lumapit sa amin. ‘Hey, are you with us?’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Oh I thought you’re part of a scene with Elvis Presley. He’s doing a film here.’ Sabi ni Susan, 'Elvis is here? Is there a chance we can meet him?’” Gutierrez narrated.
Eager to meet the King of Rock and Roll, Gutierrez said it was Roces who insisted that they wait for him at the hotel lobby where he’s staying.
Although they waited for hours, Gutierrez said they were fortunate that they got to meet Presley.
“Sabi niya, ‘What are you doing here in Vegas?’ 'We’re doing a film,' sabi ko. 'What’s the title of your film?' 'Eddie Loves Susie.' 'Eddie? Susie? Are you married?' 'No! No!' Sabi ko, 'We’re just partners in this movie,'” Gutierrez recalled their conversation with Presely.
He said Roces was really delighted when Presley himself asked if they wanted to have a picture with him.
“Yung cameraman namin, pumuwesto na. Kukunan na kami ng picture. May humawak sa kamay niya. Ibinaba 'yung kamay ni Agra. Sabi ko, 'Elvis, what’s wrong?' Sabi niya, ‘My photographer will take the picture then we'll mail it to you if it comes out good.’”
"So 'yung photographer ni Elvis 'yung kukuha sa amin ng picture. Ako nandito, si Elvis, si Rosemarie, si Susan sa farther right. Nung kukunan na ng picture, sabi ni Susan, ‘Wait! Wait!’ Hinawakan niya si Rosemarie, ibinalibag. Tumabi siya ngayon kay Elvis,” he said laughing.
When Presley mailed them the picture as promised, they were given only one copy and Gutierrez insisted Roces keep it. Aware of how much he also idolizes Presley, Gutierrez said Roces surprised him with a framed copy of the same picture when they got back to the Philippines.
Aside from their encounter with Presley, Gutierrez also recalled about his last conversation with Roces when she turned 80 years old in July last year.
Unable to stop his tears from flowing, Gutierrez said: “Alam ng lahat na si Susan hindi lang maganda, pati puso niya maganda. I will miss her… Nung birthday niya, tinawagan ko siya. Sabi ko, ’80!’ ‘Oo nga 80 na ako!’ Nag-usap kami for almost an hour. Sabi niya, ‘Eddie, wala na 'yung mga kasama natin. Si Bobby, Amalia, Jose Mari, Liberty, Lito Legaspi. Tayo na lang dalawa.’”
They talked about many things, including their respective kids and their past projects together.
As to how they ended their conversation, Gutierrez shared: “Nagpaalam na kami. Sabi niya sa akin, ‘Take care.’ Sabi ko ‘Ikaw rin. Mahal na mahal kita Susan.’ Sabi niya, ‘Ikaw din, mahal kita.’ Yun ang ending namin.”
To end his eulogy, Gutierrez directly addressed Roces and said: “I miss you. You will always be a part of my life. See you in heaven. Bye.”
Dubbed the “Queen of Philippines Movies,” Roces rose to fame in the ‘50s and went on to become the foremost leading lady of local cinema.
As a screen veteran, she remained visible on screen, most recently as the well-loved Lola Flora in the long-running primetime series “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano."