It's the year 2000 and Fernando Poe Jr.'s star continues to shine brightly in
the new millennium.
His last movie, Isusumbong Kita sa Tatay Ko, was 1999's biggest
blockbuster. He now welcomes the new year with another surefit hit, Ang
Dalubhasa, for Millennium Cinema.
"I'm optimistic that this will be a good year for local films," says Da
King. "Judging from the good box-office results of the Metro Manila
Filmfest, I'd say things look very encouraging."
The recent holiday season has been a very hectic one for FPJ.
"All my relatives from the States came home to spend Christmas here," he says.
"That's the request of our late mom (Mrs. Bessie Kelly Poe), that we welcome
the coming of the new millennium together as a family. Lahat ng mga kapatid
ko from Los Angeles and San Francisco, including their kids, came home. My
daughter Grace also came with her two kids, Bryan, who's six, and Hannah, who's
one year and two months. All in all, there were 28 of them, so it was truly a
joyous holiday season for all of us. Some of them were housed in our home in
Antipolo, while the others stayed in our home in Greenhills. It's a grand
Christmas reunion for the whole clan."
How does his grandkids call him, Grandpa?
"No," he laughs. "They call me Papa Ronnie. Bryan is allergic to milk so we
cannot feed him any dairy products. He can't eat milk chocolate like other
kids. I'll miss them when they leave. They're here for more than a month."
While FPJ was attending to his relatives, he was also busy with the shooting
and post-production work for Ang Dalubhasa, which he not only stars in
but also directs under his pseudonym, Ronwaldo Reyes.
"This is the second time for me to play a doctor on screen. The first one was
in Apollo Robles, directed by Manong Gerry de Leon. I was a
doctor there who was also a boxer. In Dalubhasa, I'm a military doctor
naman. Dalubhasa means two things: that neurosurgery is my speciality as
a doctor, and that I'm also an expert gun enthusiast."
Whatever happened to the other project he started last year, Dugong Busabos,
which pairs him with Daisy Reyes and Glydel Mercado?
"We're half-way through with it but I felt there was something in the project
which isn't right, so I decided to shelve it. Sometimes, you have to follow
your instincts. It's not like the movie I did with Juday. First shooting day
pa lang, I could feel the good vibes that it will be a hit, and I was
He feels the same way for Ang Dalubhasa, which has three parts.
"The first part concerns the revenge angle. My entire family was killed by
hired assassins headed by Johnny Vicar. That's why in the film's trailer, you'd
see me cornering Johnny, telling him that I waited for eight years for my
showdown with him. The second part is about my being a doctor in Cebu. Maritoni
Fernandez, a socialite there, plays my girlfriend, and her niece, Cris
Villonco, is very close to me. Cris confides her dream of becoming a good
singer someday to me. When it turns out that she has brain tumor, I operate on
her. She's well on her way to recovery but she mysteriously dieds after going
into a coma. I blames myself and this sends me into a deep depression.
Eventually, it will be discovered that her death is not really my fault, but
that of a rival doctor, Ricardo Cepeda. The third part of the movie shows me
moving to Manila. I become a drunkard and refuse to practise my profession.
This is where I meet a social worker, Nanette Medved, who helps me put my life
in order again."
He feels very lucky to have Nanette and Cris in the cast.
"Nanette is a damn good actress and she deserves a second chance. Also, may
kissing scene kasi kami rito, just like in our first two movies,
Dito sa Pitong Gatang and Isang Bala Ka Lang 2," he laughs. "I'm
sure it's just fine with her husband because our family names are somewhat
Nanette's husband is Chris Po.
How would he rate Cris as an actress?
"She's very good for someone who's acting in her very first movie. On a scale
of 10, I'd give her an 8.5. She also sang the theme song of the movie, Ikaw,
and she did a very good job of it. Sharon Cuneta and Regine Velasquez have
used the song before in their own movies, but Cris has a totally new and
different interpretation, at ibang-iba rin ang pagkakagamit ng kanta in
Ang Dalubhasa. My only complaint about Cris is that she kept on giving
me chocolates that's why I gained eight lbs. while shooting this movie."
We notice that he rides a horse once again in some scenes in the movie, making
it look like a western. It's been quite sometime since we last saw him on a
"That's true. May mga nagre-request kasi na mapanood uli akong
mangabayo. And the horse that I got in this movie was so big and tall that
I have to use an applebox to get on top of him."
Once and for all, it's about time he sets things straight about the rumor that
he will run for President after the term of his good friend, President Erap
Estrada. Is he running or not?
"Since 25 years ago pa, so many people have already been trying to
persuade me to run. First as Mayor of Quezon City, then as governor of
Pangasinan, and later, even as a Senator. I have only one answer to all of
them: politics is not for me. A lot of people think I'm running because they
saw me on TV last year while I was visiting some patients in a hospital. They
thought I've started my campaign. But I've been doing that all my life, helping
the needy. I guess it was just magnified by the media because I was with the
President's daughter, Jackie, at that time."
Erap's approval rating plunged five percent to a new low. Does he give his
friend advice on how to improve his government?
"I don't give advice, I just make suggestions. Some people think the President
and I always see each other. Not at all. At the most, once a month lang
kaming magkausap. Usually, sa phone pa. I get a lot of
invitations to state dinners in Malacañang, but I seldom go. Some people
even thought he was assigning me to a cabinet position after he won the
presidency, but he'll never do that because he knows na hindi ko talaga
gusto. It hurts me when he is censured, lalo na kung alam kong hindi
totoo. Honestly, I think that deep inside, he is trying his best to do a
good job and he's now doing his best to improve his rating, so let's give him
another chance. I don't know about the other politicians around him. Most of
them were introduced to me only during the campaign. Basta ako, I helped
him during the campaign, but I never asked for any favors from him in
What FPJ wants to do is make more movies this year.
"I want to be more productive and perhaps do up to three or four films this
year. Right now, I'm already developing the scripts for my next projects.
There's a project on the exploitation of miners in Diwalwal Mining in Mindanao.
There's an action-comedy, Ayos na ang Kasunod, which will pair me with
Ara Mina. Then, there's the sequel to Isusumbong with Judy Ann Santos,
Magpaalam Ka Muna sa Tatay Ko."