Sunday, February 18, 2007


Despite becoming a colony of the United States in the aftermath of 2 successive wars for independence, many Spanish expatriates opted to settle in the Philippines. Among them was a Catalan playwright from Majorca named Lorenzo Pou. One of his children is Fernando Poe, Sr. who later married Bessie Kelley who is the daughter of an Irish-American army engineer who married a Filipina and also settled in the Philippines. They have 6 children one of which is Ronald Allan Poe (the reason for the “Ronnie” nickname) who became the famous Fernando Poe, Jr. (AKA FPJ and Da King) of Philippine moviedom. Actually, FPJ borrowed the name from his brother Andy (as the nickname again implies) who is also an actor. As a film director, FPJ used the pseudonym Ronwaldo Reyes that was taken from his paternal grandmother’s surname. He made more that 200 movies in his lifetime.

In 1963, he and actor Joseph “Erap” Estrada who became his bosom buddy testified against gangs who extort money from the Philippine movie industry. Thirty-five years later, FPJ helped Erap became the 13th president of the Philippines. After Erap was deposed in what became known as EDSA 2, FPJ became a reluctant presidential candidate in the 2004 election which many believed he won. During a guided calesa tour of Intramuros, we passed by a row of metal sculptures depicting all the Filipino presidents. Our guide whom I believe to be a little bit mentally challenged said that FPJ should be there. I did not vote for FPJ but I agreed.

On 12:01 am of 14 December 2004, his excellency Fernando Poe, Jr. died of cerebral thrombosis with multiple organ failure at Saint Luke's Medical Center. He was 65 years old. He could have been the 15th president of the Philippines.

Precy is a big FPJ fan. But she can’t go to the theaters to watch his movies. Abet has been taught that such enjoyments are un-Sabadista. Neither can’t she watch FPJ on television because they don’t have one; Kid Buntal was never able to buy the one he promised many times. Many years later, they will have their first television --- a hand-me-down from Precy’s soldier nephew in Fort Magsaysay. One night, Abet went home to their house with crooked posts and slated bamboo walls in Almaguer, and found Precy and Kid Buntal trying to watch “FPJ sa GMA” in that old black-and-white portable yellow television with a picture that keeps sliding down. It was a hell way to watch a movie but they have no choice. Abet has just finished college and his first job don’t pay much. But he promised himself right that night that Precy and Kid Buntal will a have a new television. It will be a 14-inch Sony colored TV and it will take him one year to pay for it. But he did not care.

FPJ considered San Carlos City on Pangasinan as his hometown. I’ve been there as a 3rd or 4th grader but can’t remember much of the place. I decided to drop by during one of my trips from Manila. We had lunch in a carinderia that serves kaleskesan (pinapaitan without the pait) and pigar-pigar (fried fresh lomo). I asked the young waitress about FPJ’s place and what she thought if he could have the president. She had a sweet smile (and big boobs for her age) but she seemed not to know or to care. From there, I paid a visit to the city’s church that was built 4 times by the Dominicans in different locations. The first structure was razed by fire in 1587, the second one again burned down in 1718, and the third building was also destroyed by fire during a local uprising in 1763. The present church is actually the fourth building that was built between 1770 and 1763. The church was lowered in height and strengthened after suffering damages from the earthquakes of 1796, 1798, and 1799. Fire again razed the church in 1822 and was rebuilt probably in the 1860s.

Another favorite Pangasinense --- journalist Al Mendoza --- hails from the nearby town of Mangatarem that he periodically featured along with the infamous Valentin “VD” Dakuykoy in his column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. I like the way he writes with drama especially on topics related to my and the Philippines’ favorite basketball team (i.e. the fabled and legendary Ginebra of old). The first parochial buildings of what will be Mangatarem’s Church of San Raymundo de Penaforte were built under the supervision of Fr. Joaquin Perez (OP) from 1835 until 1844. These were burned down in 1862. Fr. Manuel Alvarez del Manzano (OP) initiated the building of the present church that was continued by Father Suarez (OP) until 1875, and completed during the term of Fr. Vicente Iztequi (OP) from 1875 until 1886. Father Iztequi also had the convent built during his term. Once upon a time, the church was the largest and the most artistic in the whole Philippines.

If I remember it right, ball player Marlou Aquino first played for Ginebra San Miguel in the Philippine Basketball Association. He hails from the nearby town of Sta. Barbara.

PHOTOS (top to bottom):
1) Da King as in his younger days.
2) A poster of one of his recent films.
3) People waited for almost 4 hours for FPJ’s caravan to pass by. Photo was taken in Bacal 2 in front of our house.
4) FPJ’s entourage passing in front of our house in Nueva Ecija during his 2004 presidential run.
5) San Carlos City’s church.
6) Mangatarem’s church.
7) Sta. Barbara’s Church of the Holy Family.


Anonymous said...

Wala lay Wikipedian Pangasinan ya naanap ed . Komon mila ka ed ayan ulupan.

FPJ fan from San Francisco USA said...

Thank you for your research. I especially appreciate your inclusion of the Philippine-American war. Personally I was offended by your descriptions of your "mentally challenged" and "big-boobed" local hosts. I thought the Filipino way was to receive hospitality with grace. Then again, if you voted for GMA I'm not surprised if you look down at your own kababayan.