AMIDST a cheering crowd, huge streamers, popping flash bulbs, grinding movie cameras and glaring kleig lights, the eventful reunion of local filmdom's two queens took place. Before the happy happening took place it had been dubbed as close to impossible to get them together, considering that the two had been conducting a keen rivalry since their Sampaguita days. Amalia Fuentes and Susan Roces appeared the sweetest of friends that night of September 19 when FPJ Productions launched Cover Girls, their first picture together after five years. (Their last movie together was Amaliang Mali-Mali V. Susanang Daldal at Sampaguita studios.)
A Rousing Welcome
On FPJ's billboard at the Philam Film Industries compound a message was written. What proved a real eyecatcher was the way the names of Susan and Amalia were cautiously billed in the form of a crisscross. In such manner both of them have a fair share of the billing.
Across the facade of the building was a white streamer that welcomed the members of the press and the Philippine Couture Association. A yellow-silver thin material was spread at the stairs leaving a narrow path strewn with pots of flowers and plants at the sides. At the dining table was a three-tiered giant cake with the caption Cover Girls at the topmost of the cake where two dolls stand side by side. The two dolls obviously represented the two stars of the picture.
As the cameras began to grind the reporters and some of the stars like Tita Muñoz, Eddie Garcia and Tito Galla were asked to make their entrance to the decorated receiving hall. Couturiers Pitoy Moreno and Rudy Dandan confirmed the news that both Susan and Amalia will be wearing twelve gowns each designed by them.
After thirty minutes of chit-chat a red and cream-topped Rambler approached the compound to the delight of enthusiastic fans who clogged the gateway. Flashing that familiar sweet smile Susan Roces, glowingly attractive in a baby-pink chiffon dress, alighted from the car and went around greeting everyone. Then she retired to a private room at the ground floor. Barely had Susan taken her breathing spell when shrieks of admiration heralded the arrival of a white combi. Stunning in a pastel-colored long-sleeved, above-the-knee outfit Amalia Fuentes emerged from the vehicle after whispering adieu to her hubby, Bobby Vasquez, who waved his hands before the combi retreated.
Tito Galla, Amalia's leading man in the picture, escorted Amalia and she mixed with the guests to say a hello or two. Then she directed her course to the same room where Susan was stationed. At this juncture photographers elbowed each other to get inside the room.
Sensing that the photographers were creating a turmoil in that not-so-spacious room Susan and Amalia finally went out together -- looking like two persons who have found long-lost friends in each other. They posed together for the photographers, who recorded their every move. For a few minutes the two took refuge in the rest room after which they came out whispering sweetly into each other's ears and with their arms locked intimately. They raved about the cake as movie cameras whirred and for the nth time they posed before it.
Almost everyone was asking where the producer himself was. But according to his PRO, FPJ was having his hands full with his Erap's (Joseph Estrada) candidacy in San Juan, Rizal and had to be at the headquarters to attend to some important matters.
"I know why Ronnie isn't around. Perhaps he doesn't want to take the limelight away from us," Amalia jestingly told me after which she kidded Susan about it, and later the two broke into sheer laughter.
Bob Soler, Susan's leading man, was the last to arrive and he moved to Susan's side in an apologetic manner. the four of them -- Tito, Amalia, Susan and Bob -- made a toast together to wish luck for their picture.
As I write this, the manner of billing hasn't been resolved yet but that doesn't mean that Amalia and Susan care much about it. Professionals as they are, they seen no reason why this matter could not be solved to both their satisfaction.
However, the film company is in a dilemma about it. There was a suggestion that the names of both be spread all over in a circle form with title of the picture placed at the center; another suggestion was the crisscross billing with two versions, one bearing Amalia's name first, the other Susan's.
A Happy Reunion
Prior to the affair, Susan and Amalia, after some years of "separation", met at th LVN compound where Susan was shooting Maruja with Amalia's hubby, Bobby Vasquez, as her leading man. Amalia visited Bobby on the set and it turned out that Susan was doing a scene with him. Since Amalia and Susan had never been "enemies" in the first place, both were equally happy to see each other again. This was the first time that they really had time to talk to each other again although during the FAMAS awards, Susan approached Amalia to congratulate her. They had a very limited time together. And so they had not seen so much of each other until Ronnie Poe thought of casting them in a picture.
On the set of Maruja, Amalia gave Susan a sample of her Kentucky chicken product (Amalia is a stockholder of Kentucky chicken) and a glass of orange juice. They reminisced about their capers at their home studio, their happiest moments together. The duo thought that their having attended the cursillo in the same locality -- Cabuyao, Laguna -- was such a coincidence.
And so, in one way or another, the two more or less hinted that there had never been any misunderstanding between them. And whilt it looks that all's well with Susan and Amalia, will it ring true for their devotees? The fans of both Amalia and Susan have yet to reach a sort of peace talk. Anyway, their fans' rivalry only points to one thing: that Susan and Amalia ar still "it".
SA taong ito, marahil marami ang masisiyahan, lalo na sa panig ng mga maka-Susan, sapagkat ang hinahangaan nilang bituin na dili't iba na si Susan Roces ay muli nilang makikita sa pelikula. Ito ay sa pelikulang ADIOS MI AMOR. Kaya lamang hindi nasunod ang nais nilang ang makatambal ni Susan ay ang isa pa nilang idolo na walang iba kundi si Ronald Allan Poe o ang kilala at hinahangaan ng lahat na si Fernando Poe, Jr. Sa nasabing pelikula, ang katambal ni Susan ay si Eddie Gutierrez.
Di pa man ay mayroon ng mga panghihinayang at katanungan na bakit daw hindi pa si Ronnie ang katambal ni Susan? Bakit daw si Eddie pa, hindi naman sa sinusukat nila ang kakayahan ni Eddie bilang isang artista. Kaya nga lamang, kilalang no. one love team sa pelikula ang mag-asawang ito. Bukod sa nasubaybayan ng madla ang kanilang private life, at batid nila kung gaano katamis ang kanilang pagmamahalan. Alam na naman ninyo ang mga tagahanga, mapaghanap at masyadong seloso at selosa.
Kung sabagay, maraming privileges kung sina Ronnie at Susan ang magkasama sa ADIOS MI AMOR. Halimbawa: Sila ang producer ng sariling samahang FPJ, at nangangahulugang bilang mga pangunahing tauhan, malaking halaga ang mame-menos nila, sapagkat hindi na nila babayaran ang kanilang mga serbisyo. Sapagkat kung talagang babayaran sila, mahigit sa P100,000 ang magiging rate nila. Hindi rin mahihirapan sa pagsasapelikula, sapagkat sila, bilang mga producers ng sariling pelikula, mas madadali ang paggawa nila, sapagkat magkasabay sila ng dating at alis kung may shooting. Ika nga, ultimo maliliit na oras ay ginto sa kanila at hindi masasayang.
Ngunit bakit nga ba hindi pa sila ang nagtambal sa pelikulang ito? Ang totoo, walang naiibang dahilan, sapagkat bago pa ito isapelikula, napagkasunduan ng mag-asawang Susan at Ronnie ang casting ng ADIOS MI AMOR. Hindi sa ayaw ni Susan o ni Ronnie na ang alin man sa kanila ay magkatambal. Lamang, ipinaubaya na nila sa kanilang best friend na si Eddie Gutierrez ang nasabing role. At hindi lang si Eddie ang maaaring itambal kay Susan kung sakali ma't masundan ang pelikulang ito. May mga naka-schedules ang FPJ na mga pelikulang gagawin nila sa loob ng taong ito. Ang gusto ng mag-asawa ay tulungan naman nila ang mga kapatid nila sa pelikula sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay sa kanila ng gagampanang mga papel. Sabagay, may pahintulot din naman si Ronnie kay Susan na makipagtambal sa ibang leading lady. Gaya halimbawa ng DAMPOT, PUKOL, SALO na si Pilar Pilapil ang kanyang partner. Sa SANTIAGO naman ay si Boots Anson Roa at sa gagawing STA. QUITERIA ay maaaring si Helen Gamboa kung di magbabago ng plano si Ronnie. Ang mag-asawang ito ay masasabing uliran, mayroong pagbibigayan sa isa't isa, kaya naman madadama ninyo ang malaking pag-ibig na nakalukob sa kanila. Sila ang ehemplo ng pag-ibig na hindi ningas kugon.
SINO si Susan Roces sa likod ng kamera? Maniniwala kaya kayo kung sabihin namin na ang superstar na ito, kung hindi artista sa harap ng kamera ay kusinera naman sa harap ng kalan? Well, ganyan si Susan. Isang plain housewife doon sa mansion house nila ni Ronnie sa White Plains. Maraming househelp si Susan ngunit siya ang naghahanda at nagluluto ng ulam na paborito ni Ronnie. Baka matikman ninyo ang niluto ni Susan, hindi kayo maniniwalang ganoon pala siya kasarap magluto, pati na ng paggawa niya ng cakes at pastries. Marahil itatanong ninyo sa inyong sarili na baka nag-aral siya ng culinary arts or cooking. At ang isa sa mga weakness ni Ronnie ay ang masarap na pagkain.
Hindi lamang iyan, interior decorator pa rin ng sariling tahanan si Susan. Siya ang nagsu-supervise ng mga palamuti, gaya ng mga draperies, kung ano ang tamang kulay, mga knickknacks at iba pang decoration kung saang sulok dapat ayusin. Maging ang mga paborito niyang roses ay mga kamay ni Susan ang namamahala kung kaya't makita naman ninyong malulusog ito at patuloy ang pamumulaklak. Siya pa rin ang nag-aayos ng mga sariling gamit sa katawan ni Ronnie mula sa medyas, panyo, underwear at kung paano niya pingtutugma-tugma ang mga kasuotan ni Rnnie sa mga lakad nito. Okay, alright ang lahat sa loob ng bahay nina Ronnie at Susan. Kanya naman itatanong ninyo kung gaano kapalad ang isa't isa sa kanila, bagama't kulang ng isang baby ang mansion na yaon. Kung sabagay, mayroong isang Divine Grace na siyang pinagkakaabalahan sina Susan at Ronnie. Kaya hindi masasabing hungkag ang loob ng bahay ng mga Poe, sapagkat mawisyo na si Divine Grace at marunong na itong makipaghabulan.
NGAYON naman ay masisiyahan na marahil kayo, sapagkat natugunan na ang inyong pananabik na muling makita sa pelikula ang inyong idolong superstar na si SUSAN ROCES. At umasa kayo na hindi ang ADIOS MI AMOR ang kanyang nag-iisang pelikula, sapagkat masusundan pa ito at maaaring sila ng kanyang hubby na si Ronnie ang magtatambal. Samantala, hindi lamang sa pelikula abala ang mag-asawang ito, sapagkat mayroon na rin silang mga sinehan sa ilang lalawigan at ang pinakamalayo ay ang nasa Hawaii, ang Zamboanga Theater. Ayon sa pagkakabatid namin isa ito sa pinaka-class at hindi lamang local films ang laging ipinalalabas nila. At sa tuwing mayroong mga artistang Pilipino na nag-aabroad, hindi maaaring hindi mag-stop over sa Hawaii at tiyak na daraan sa sinehan doon nina Ronnie at Susan. Maligayang-maligaya si Susan, hindi lamang bilang artista, kundi bilang housewife pa rin.