ON MY way to the Fil-Am Film laboratory on Del Monte Avenue, Quezon City I made an embarassing discovery. My signature skirt was showing signs of tear. Should I go back and change?
Not on your life. Fernando Poe, Jr., the screen's virile gift to women, was shooting Tatlong Hari at the Fil-Am compound and I'd rather be there than any place else in the world.
His back was turned to me when I entered the set. Shoulders up to there...hair vaguely reminiscent of his late father's...
I popped up like a jack-in-the-box from behind. He turned around and saw me. He did not question my presence out of politeness. Although I was an intruder he said nothing.
My heart leaped. So this is Fernando Poe, Jr. whom I saw in Magpakailan Man. His singing was marvelous. I heard they pressed an album of his songs.
At the moment I thought of myself as the luckiest girl on earth to merit sixty seconds of his full attention.
I wanted to introduce myself but how does one go about saying, "I am the writer with more rejections than accepted materials?"
I did not even say "Good afternoon." I was tongue-tied.
The wornout skirt bothered me no more. The idol's checkered green and gray shirt with long sleeves wasn't any newer either. Or does he don it for luck?
Ronnie moved around the set, hands on hips, taking stock, checking everything, giving instructions. Many were the times when he gave out to good-natured laughs when someone cracked a joke.
I imagined that it was Fernando Poe, Sr. in his place and little Ronnie was only seven years old prowling around the set tinkering with the props.
It is not easy to connect the seven-year-old tot with the 26-year-old Ronnie who is doing a man-sized job as producer, director and Star. He looks so cool and free, alert. Simply professional. Always in command of himself and the situation.
He injects jokes while he works. While on a trial take of Jose Garcia, Ronnie cocked an impish eye on him. "Das how the old actors do it," he remarked and grinned.
This man really deserves the honor and prestige that fans have given him. He strove, sweated, dug new techniques, left no stone unturned to reach the place where he is at present.
He did not relax to rest on his father's laurels. He made pictures to suit extraordinary talents.
I hope someday they give him a plaque with this inscription: "To Fernando Poe Jr., who so painstakingly built a name for himself."
Like father, like son. That's what they say. But I think there's something more to it.
A portrait of Fernando Poe, Jr. as movie director.
By Baby K. Jimenez
LIPS PRESSED, eyes cast low, hands on hips, he moved about the camera and kleig lights. Rubbing his nose, he ordered the crew to prepare for another take.
"Quiet!" a voice boomed out. Everybody was held in a standstill.
"Motor!" he signaled. The take was on.
Now he was approaching a huge mirror near the stairs. But before he could take a glance of himself he decided to make his way to the dining room and explained something to the old man seated there. Later he bade him goodbye....Then he was completely out of the picture leaving the old man in focus.
"Cut it!" from the adjoining room rang out the distinct clear voice that had ordered the crew to put on the motor a while ago.
Then he came out. The take was over.
At the snap of a finger the silent spell was broken. Everyone was all smiles.
The leading man, who was also the director and the producer, was once more rubbing his nose and smiling in his usual shy manner.
To the movie audience he is Fernando Poe, Jr. To his intimates he is just Ronnie. A darling. Friendly. Samaritan. His real name: Ronald Allan Poe. Unknown to many, known to few, he is also D'Lanor. It is Ronald spelled backward. Producer. Director. Writer.
Although Ronnie was said to have directed almost ten pictures already, the first movie that really had him billed as the director was San Bernardo, the fourth anniversary offering of his outfit, FPJ Productions. He also directed Hanggang May Buhay and Langit At Lupa, his latest.
All the movies mentioned were box-office hits. Like other Tagalog movies, they are not flawless -- but the directorial job in those three photoplays is competent.
Ronnie is a conscientious director. He sees to it that his actors play their roles to the hilt and makes them rehearse their lines often. He also asks for retakes when necessary. And there are times when he has to miss his lunch or dinner when shooting a most important scene. He kids his associates and co-players. His friendliness is unquestioned yet the same guys look up to him as a real boss when it comes to business. They arrive on the set promptly, do their work devotedly and do their best to please him.
The Same Humble Guy
Whenever reminded that he has achieved greater glory than his father (the late Fernando Poe, Sr.), Ronnis has this to say: How can I be greater than my father when I'm only his junior in the movies...The fact that I was named after him is enough proof that my father is greater and I will always take my hat off to him."
An NBI instructor who used to tutor Ronnie in self-defense says, "You may think that what Ronnie does on the screen -- those heavy punches -- are just camera tricks. But I tell you, they are real. What I taught him was only intended for the movies but Ronnie has come out a genuine master of these techniques...Now I won't even risk tangling up with him. I know I'll be the loser."
Ronnie also writes. He has a rich and vivid imagination. Some of the stories that have been shown by his studios were his own brainchilds, like his latest production, Langit At Lupa. But Ronnie keeps mum about it.
Ronnie had two stories for Langit At Lupa. The former plot is about a European princess who comes to the Philippines for a vacation. During the course of her visit, she meets with an airplane accident and the public thinks she is fatally injured.
Though an amnesia victim, the princess is lucky enough to be the lone survivor of the crash, thanks to the natives of the remote crash site who do their best to make her live again. Here she falls in love with a farmer. Later an incident leads him to discover the identity of the princess, who at this time has recovered from her sickness.
A scene follows with the princess being crowned as Queen of her kingdom. How the Queen (she surely personifies Langit) would live happily ever after with her poor sweetheart (who of course represents Lupa) provides the highlight of the story.
But since this story would require more time to shoot and a location abroad, Ronnie had to shelve it. And well, considering that tongues keep wagging about the Ronnie-Susan romance, others could easily jump to conclusions should Susan and Ronnie decide to go abroad for shooting. Hence, Ronnie had woven meticulously another love story. By this time you must have seen the movie already. Langit At Lupa has chalked up another first -- box office-wise and quality-wise.
There are reports going around that Ronnie will be building his own studio compound soon somewhere in Quezon City.
Shakespeare once said, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them."
I think Ronnie, or rather D'Lanor, is a combination of all this.