In life as in death, FPJ was a kind soul.
Movie people saw him, in reel and real life, as the knight in shining armor and the savior of their lives—from emotional to financial woes. He was larger than life and the quotidian saw him as the other god.
In his turf, he was one of the prime movers of the local Actors Guild as he sat as one of its early leaders.
Among his objectives was to raise the talent fees of his fellows and to alleviate the condition of the poor and marginalized stuntmen, extras, stand-ins etc in his ranks, a dream he in his own little big way was able to achieve a pittance many of his own money he put where his mouth was.
Showbiz people called him Manager as if he was the owner and administrator of the whole film and television businesses anyone could easily reach out to his helping hand.
Later, in the larger context, he dreamt of delivering the whole nation from pilferage and abject poverty so he ran for the highest post of the land and lost. It shattered his dream of serving the people in his simple whims. It was more complex in the public service arena.
In my forty three years in movie journalism, I had the most memorable and thought provoking even absurd encounters with him. At first, I was just an outsider looking in to the barrages of his exploits.
According to veteran entertainment writer Alice Vergara, FPJ was a friend not only during drinking sprees and other celebratory moments but more so, in times of need. “We would drink beer the whole night. When the dawn broke, we would disperse but before we parted ways, he would share his pamasahe (fare) with us,” recalled Alice.
Vergara would always stay with FPJ as one of his retinue if not as a drinking buddy or a member of the movie press. She would always pamper herself when he was around.
Small movie and TV people would swarm around him especially after he was done with his work. He would be approached of any kind of request—donation for a project, alms for the dead, financial support for a sick person, standing as sponsor in a wedding, baptismal or debut or just a special guest in a party etc.
I was with the late Helen Vela when we went to FPJ’s shoot of a Ben Hernandez film somewhere in Quezon City. He was just sitting in one corner his face being made up. Afterwards, he would huddle with the crew. He was kind of elusive especially to a newbie like me. He would talk to Helen straight to her eyes without looking elsewhere.
After the shoot, he would gather all the production personnel even outside his own and at least, give them a piece of his professional thought if not a penny from his pocket.
He knew it was hard for the working class to make both ends meet and the only way he knew was to share his blessings.
This trait however impulsive and emotional was rubbed in to one of his sisters-in-law Zeny Marcelo-Poe, the common-law wife of FPJ’s half-brother Conrad Poe. Zeny just as a simple lady would share her life with the most underprivileged in our society like her feeding programs in Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Palawan, Metro Manila and a lot more places.
During our outreach project of Lopez, Quezon International’s Gift-Giving in San Rafael Elementary School in Barangay San Rafael in Lopez, Quezon last June 2, 2018, Marcelo-Poe shared her kind heart by giving the kids and the parents t-shirts and ballers from Grace Poe.
Aside from Coca-Cola and Wilkins which also supported the gift-giving, Zeny gave her thoughts on the current wave of Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR, a civic consciousness among big companies and multinationals.
Zeny is thankful for FPJ’s influence on her.