The legacy of the Laxa family in show business had remained intact despite the death of their forebears.
First, it was the amiable entertainment industry leader and producer Atty. Esperidion Laxa, organizer and manager of Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions who bid the local film industry farewell at the time moviemaking business was at its ebb in the late millennium after his company had made considerable unforgettable and iconic screeners especially in the 1960s and 1970s.
Atty. Laxa was also the Director-General of the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) when the unity in the industry was at its height.
Then, last week, the family was visited anew by an angel of death to snatch away Atty. Laxa’s younger brother, Antonio D. Laxa, better known as Tony Ferrer, the most famous and bankable box-office star in TIIP’s film factory’s production history.
Tony made history in Philippine cinema when he portrayed on the big screen the local version of the English crime buster James Bond in the eponymous Tony Falcon alias Agent X-44. Ferrer raked in millions of receipts at the tills in the action capers “Mastermind,” “Sabotage,” “Frame Up,” “Code Name: Octopus” etc.
One of his daughters, Maricel Laxa, posted in her social media territories these notes: “On 23 January 2021, our beloved father, friend, and Philippine movie industry treasure…joined our Creator quietly in his sleep and in the comfort of his home. He was 86 years old.
“Our Dad became an action movie superstar… He appeared in 203 movies.
“During his last days, he was surrounded by the care of his San Antonio family, the love of his children, and the joy and songs of his grandchildren. He was a remarkable, selfless man who always thought of others first, impacting a lot of lives on and off screen. We shall all remember him with fondness.
“Following his last wishes, there will be no public viewing of his remains. In lieu of flowers and cards, an online mass and memorial shall be announced to family, relatives and friends shortly.
“We will always thank God in remembrance of our father. To all who have loved him and cared for X-44, we shall be forever grateful. We appreciate all the messages we have been receiving. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.”
Maricel is the daughter of Tony and veteran actress Imelda Ilanan.
Meanwhile, Ferrer has another daughter, Mutya Crisostomo, a beauty-queen-turned-actress (Mutya ng Pilipinas 1990) who is one the actor’s kids with erstwhile wife, a beauty queen herself, 1970 Mutya ng Pilipinas winner Alice Crisostomo who also had a short-lived acting career.
Tony’s wake, indeed, was very private as after he breathed his last, his remains were cremated. After the occasion, ashes were held vigil at the Laxa house in San Antonio Village, Pasig City. “Masyadong mahigpit ang guwardiya sa bahay nina Tony. Buti na lang at lumabas si Nick Romano, ‘yong bunso niyang kapatid na artista rin kaya pinasok ako. Sabi ni Nick, ‘kaibigan ‘yan.” Kaya nakapasok ako (The guards in Tony’s house were strict in letting in mourners. It was good Nick Romano, his younger brother who’s also a movie star went out and he saw me. Nick said, ‘she’s a friend. Let her in),” informed veteran entertainment news hen Alice Vergara who was with her adopted son Michael.
After two nights of vigil in Pasig City, Tony’s urn was transferred to the clubhouse of Mutya’s residence village in Alfonso, Cavite. According to movie director Ariel Henson, Maricel was present in the last night of her dad’s wake in Alfonso. Maricel was with her husband Anthony Pangilinan and son, matinee idol Donny Pangilinan.
“Dumating din si Joseph Estrada. Malakas pa si Erap. Kayang-kaya pa niya sa pulitika. Si Jude Estrada, nando’n din. At si Gloria Romero raw, nando’n din pero hindi ko nakita (Joseph Estrada attended the wake. Erap was still up and about. He could still make it in politics. Jude Estrada was also there. I learned Gloria Romero also came but I didn’t catch her anymore),” gushed Ariel, a friend of Tony.
“Natandaan ko no’n, nagsuntukan sina Erap at Tony nang dahil kay Imelda (I vividly remember, Erap and Tony hit each other because of Imelda),” volunteered Henson. Movie writer Vir Gonzales also came to condole with Mutya and Maricel, two of his protégées who grieved for the loss of their father.