MANILA — With a career spanning 70 years and countless portrayals onscreen, film icon Susan Roces also had flair for memorable lines in real life, both as a public figure and a mother, going by the fond recollection of her only daughter, Sen. Grace Poe on Wednesday.
In her eulogy on the final night of the wake, Poe first recounted a constant reminder from her mother which inadvertently made it to the senator’s campaign ad in 2013, the first time she sought the elected post.
“I’ve been agonizing over the past days how to give a tribute to a remarkable woman. It’s not easy. But then, I remember and I’m returning to that time when I was first running for senator. Iniisip namin, ano ang magandang mensahe in our commercial?
“Ginawang simple ng nanay ko. ‘Simple lang ‘yan: bakit mo gustong maging senador?’ Oo nga naman, that’s what you convey to the public,” Poe said.
The 30-second ad saw Roces and her daughter in a brief conversation about running for office, and her broad goal of easing poverty.
In the original script, the ad would end with Poe promising to do as she said, in the process realizing the dreams of both her father, the late presidential candidate and screen veteran Fernando Poe, Jr. (FPJ), and her mother.
During the actual take, however, Roces added another line — which they ultimately decided to retain.
“Susan will say, ‘Promise, ha?’ And I’m supposed to answer, ‘Promise po.’ So, take. Ginawa namin ‘yung commercial. Dinagdagan niya. Wala sa script. Sabi niya, ‘Pagbutihan mo.’
“Perfect, ‘diba? Iyan ang palagi niyang sinasabing banta sa akin — ‘Pagbutihan mo,’” Poe said.
Those weren’t the only memorable words of Roces for Poe, who recalled that it was after FPJ’s passing that her mother came out of her shell anew, with her acting comeback becoming her outlet to “express herself” while in the process of healing.
“Mula nang mag-asawa siya, ang naging prioridad niya ay ang aking ama,” Poe said. “Ang kaniyang career ay isinantabi niya. Ang ginawa niya, inalagaan niya ang kaniyang asawa.”
“Si FPJ ay larger-than-life. Maraming tumitingala kay FPJ. Pero si FPJ ay FPJ dahil sa likod niya ay mayroong isang matapang at maalagang asawa na mahal siya. But she was always on the sidelines, and it was FPJ who reaped the recognition and the awards.”
FPJ and Roces got married in 1968. The would later legally adopt Poe, who was foundling as a newborn.
“Noong namatay si FPJ, doon nag-umpisang umusbong muli ang katauhan ng tunay na Jesusa Poe. Doon muli lumabas kung sino talaga siya. Jesusa Poe blossomed again in her career, in television. That was another outlet for her to be able to express herself, because she was really distraught when my father died,” Poe said.
FPJ passed away in 2004, only months after bowing in the presidential race which elected Gloria Macapal Arroyo. The polls would become controversial amid allegations of electoral fraud, in relation to the so-called “Hello Garci” scandal.
Roces’ statements regarding the allegations made a mark in electoral history, with Poe echoing those words on Wednesday.
“Nakita ng mga tao — si Susan Roces pala, hindi lang maganda, hindi lang magaling umarte; ang tapang pala niyan. Doon lumabas ‘yung mga salita na, ‘Hindi ko tinatanggap ang iyong sorry.’ ‘…Not once, but twice!’ ‘Ang sinungaling ay kapatid ng magnanakaw.’”
But beyond those “feisty, acerbic” lines, as Poe described them, Roces was also sagely in her words of advice, full of wit in her self-deprecating humor, and painfully honest when it was needed.
Here are some of Roces’ memorable, real-life dialogue with her daughter, as recalled by Poe in her eulogy:
- On Poe expressing frustration about a certain situation: “Anak, mga responsableng tao ang nangungunsumi (nakukunsumi).”
- On Poe being the target of criticisms: “Anak, mahirap mawalan ng kaaway. Mas okey na may kaaway ka, para palagi mong binabantayan ang ginagawa mo, tinatapangan mo ang loob mo, at ginagawa mong mas mabuti ang sarili mo para tama ka at hindi sila.”
- On Poe’s suggestion of dating again: “Aanhin ko when love blooms, wala na akong ibu-bloom.”
- On her decision not to trim her weight, as long as she was healthy: “All of this in my body, that’s my body guard. Walang titingin sa akin ‘pag ganito ang hitsura ko!”
- On flirting: “Lahat tayo, may tinatagong kalandian. Huwag lang tayong magpapahalata, at lalung-lalo nang huwag tayong mapapahuli.”
- On living a simple life: “Kaya malapit kami sa tao, lalo na ang tatay mo, dahil hindi namin kinalimutan kung paano maging mahirap.”
- On work ethics: “Kung may gagawin ka, gawin mong maayos. Ang trabaho mo, tapusin mo.”
- On being authentic and principled: “Magpakatotoo ka, huwag mong walain ang sarili mo. Huwag kang matakot ‘pag ikaw ay tama at naniniwala ka sa ginagawa mo. Mas madali kung kakampi mo ang katotohanan.”
- Cautioning Poe against being embroiled in certain political situations: “Ayokong magkaroon ng anak na bayani, dahil ang mga bayani ay mga bantayog na lang at mga statwa. Hindi ko sila makakasama.”
- Responding to Poe urging her to see the doctor, if not for her, for her concerned family members: “I’ve been putting the feelings of other people before my own ever since. I’m already 80 years old. I’m ready. This time, I will think of me.”