By Ricardo F. Lo | The Philippine Star
The multi-colorful former First Lady Imelda Marcos pulled a surprise appearance at the lunch presscon hosted by friends for her son, Ilocos Norte Gov./Nacionalista Senatoriable Bongbong Marcos, at Annabel’s restaurant yesterday, clad in a long, black gown with her hair made up like a huge ensaymada as usual, unruffled by the sweltering summer heat, singing a bit off-key before launching into a monologue, whining why she was not invited to the event.
The crowd blinked and when they looked again, they broke into a laughter as they recognized who the “intruder” was — Jon Santos doing an Imelda Marcos, that’s who!
It’s showtime, folks!
Dressed casually in a red-black striped T-shirt, a visibly sun burned Bongbong came with his wife, the brilliant lawyer Liza Araneta, and their three sons, Sandro (16), Simon (14) and Vincent (12), all in flaming red, on a break from Worth Abbey in Sussex, England, where they continued their schooling from Ilocos Norte where they got their early education (that’s why they speak more fluent Ilocano than Tagalog).
“The Marcoses don’t know how to make daughters,” joked Bongbong. All the Marcos grandchildren are boys: Imee has two and Irene has three. “So we call the boys the Marcos Monsters because they were magulo and makulit when they were young, running around the house like horses.”
Bongbong has showbiz in his blood.
In the ’50s, Imelda passed a screen test at Sampaguita Pictures in a movie starring Fred Montilla (the very first “FM” in her life) but her showbiz career was nipped in the bud when Ferdinand Marcos swept her off to the altar after a whirlwind courtship.
“I didn’t know that,” said Bongbong, well aware, however, of her mom being a patroness of the arts who has groomed Filipino artists (Cecile Licad, etc.) to international stardom.
And what many people probably didn’t know is that Bongbong played himself in Iginuhit ng Tadhana, produced by Sampaguita Pictures as a campaign pitch for Ferdinand when he first run for president in 1965, with Gloria Romero as Imelda, Luis Gonzales as Ferdinand, (now reelectionist Batangas Gov.) Vilma Santos as Imee and Gina Alajar as Irene (now Mrs. Greggy Araneta).
A few years later, a sequel, titled Pinagbuklod ng Langit, was produced also by Sampaguita, directed by Eddie Garcia, with Gloria, Luis, Vilma and Gina reprising their roles and Jose “Jonjie” Aranda (first husband of Bongbong’s fellow Nacionalista, reelectionist Sen. Loren Legarda; their marriage was annulled in 1986) playing Bongbong.
Like his sisters exposed to the limelight since he was a three-year-old toddler, Bongbong the public persona is an open book (that includes glimpses from his love life to the wild rumor that he was killed and taken over by a “clone”...funny that one, wasn’t it?)
Away from the maddening crowd, Bongbong relaxes by being with his family whom he entertains with soothing music on his flute (he also plays the saxophone), a talent he has shown on TV guestings. He enjoys listening to the music of The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Ella Fitzgerald, Wynton Marsalis, Eric Clapton, Pepe Smith and Cecile Licad.
How is Bongbong as a father and a husband?
“As a father,” said Liza (who is related to the Aranetas, one of them Mar Roxas [running mate of Liberal Party standard bearer Noynoy Aquino] whose mom, Judy Araneta-Roxas, is her ninang), “he’s hands-on. He would help change the diapers of our kids when they were babies.” Liza and Bongbong met and matched in New York. “As a husband, well, he’s the best.”
Asked if he would allow any or all of his kids (whom Tempo’s Ronald Constantino described as “artistahin”) to join showbiz, Bongbong said, “If that’s what they want, I won’t stop them.”
After all, as I’ve been saying, showbiz runs in the family. It was Imee who spearheaded the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines in the early ’80s and who produced the TV kiddie show Kaluskos Musmos (where Quezon City mayoral candidate, incumbent Vice Mayor Herbert Bautista, started his acting career).
Asked to give a one-word description of their father, the boys smiled.
The Imelda Marcos “clone” would have given a kilometric description had she not come late, “uninvited.” Hehehehehe!