Ronaldo Valdez & Janno Gibbs:In the name of the father and of the son
- Ricky Lo () - November 25, 2001 - 12:00am
There’s a little story behind this pictorial/Conversation.

Twenty-eight years ago, in June, 1973, the Martial Law weekly magazine Expressweek featured Ronaldo Valdez ("The All-Around Actor") in a one-spread article written by yours truly (yes, that long ago!). The pictorial was done at the house of Ronaldo’s late father-in-law, director Gerry "Manong" de Leon, somewhere in Mandaluyong City where Ronaldo and wife Baby Ilagan still live up to this day.

When the color photos were printed, the one showing Ronaldo at the ivy-covered gate revealed an "intruder" peeping from behind the wall right under Ronaldo’s arm. That little boy, barely four years old at that time, was none other than Ronaldo’s son Janno Gibbs (Ronaldo and Baby’s other child is Melissa), now married to Bing Loyzaga with whom he has two daughters.

Flash-forward 28 years later: During a recent chance encounter, Ronaldo (who’s turning a year wiser on Tuesday, Nov. 27) recalled how memorable that photo was, how meaningful it was to him, and he suggested that we do a "Take 2." Wish granted. The "repeat performance" was done not in Mandaluyong City but at the Blue Bacon & Green Eggs restaurant, a stone’s throw from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in New York St., Quezon City, where Janno and family live in a cozy condo unit in the same row where such other showbiz couples as Ariel Rivera/Gelli de Belen and Ogie Alcasid/Michelle van Eimeren are.

The "reenactment" was over in a few minutes, with Ronaldo doing the same relaxed pose and Janno, his little "Peeping Tom" act, much to the amusement of Baby Ilagan who watched nostalgic from a table nearby. The second pose – with Ronaldo lifting a now bigger and heavier Janno – was done with some "magic" that made it easier for Ronaldo to do the weight-lifting job.

And then, father and son sat down for separate heart-to-heart Conversations on, among other topics, what they find interesting in each other, what they’re learning from each other and how they beautifully survive in the intrigue-laden showbiz without feeling the fangs of the Green-Eyed Monster called Professional Jealousy.

What’s the best advice that you’ve given to Janno?

I don’t usually give him any advice. What I do is make my life an example to him. I think that’s also what he’s showing his own kids — ‘yung sariling buhay niya as example. Oh, yes, I remember. Long ago, I told him, about sex, "Hangga’t maiiwasan, iwasan mo; kung hindi maiiwasan, mag-ingat ka." ‘Yon. (Very obviously, Janno wasn’t careful because Bing had a baby before they decided to get married. – RFL)

It’s not the advice; my dad never gives me any advice. I think it’s more the example. He’d rather that I solve my own problems. Ang dialogue parati niya, "E, kaya na niya ‘yon." I learn more from examples, such values as respect for everybody, even the children. Pinalaki niya kaming hindi takot sa magulang; he – and our mom – encouraged us to speak our minds, to reason out. When we were kids and they asked us, "Bakit mo ginawa ‘yon?, "We just didn’t clam up. We talked; we explained, "E, kasi Papa, ganito ‘yon…" Pag tama kami, then okay na ’yon. If we were wrong, then we got a little lecture. That was all.

During your prime, could you help it (womanizing)? Naiiwasan mo ba?

Well… hmmm… it’s part of life, isn’t it?

How are you similar to each other?

We are both humorous. We like the same music. Not many people know that I’m more of a comedian than Janno is. My most memorable roles are not dramatic but comedic, such as the Mahinhin series I did with (director) Danny Zialcita. We are both gentle and kind."

Yes, aminado ako na di hamak mas guwapo sa akin ang dad ko. Everybody says so, everybody can see that naman, di ba? (Adding deadpan). But I must also admit na mas may appeal ako sa kanya. Ask anybody. We have similar noses. Look closely, di ba malaki rin ang nose ng dad ko? Malapad pero matangos. Sa height, well, saan pa ba ako magmamana? I think my dad is 5‘6"; I’m only 5’5" tall. ‘Yung character niya, I guess nakuha ko ’yon. I like that. As men, I think my dad and I are a lot more gentle and sweeter than other men. Kung umakting kami, especially my dad, macho ang dating, di ba? Actually, my dad is one of the gentlest men I know. We’re not afraid to kiss other men. We’re secure with ourselves.

And faithful to one?

Ronaldo (Jokingly): Ay, hindi yata kami pareho sa aspect na ‘yon. We are both soft-spoken, mahaba ang pasensya. But once maubos ang pasensya, ay, we can become violent.

In what sense? You hit the wall with your fist?

Well, something like that. Janno’s sister, Melissa, is like Janno and me when it comes to temper. Parang Italian magalit! Explosive!

And how do you differ from each other – aside from height?

Height-wise, hindi kami nagkakalayo. I’m 5’7" and Janno is 5’6". When Janno met my father, James Gibbs (An American who died a few years ago and whom Ronaldo found when he was already an actor and in his late 30s. – RFL), who visited the Philippines, sabi niya, "Wala naman pala akong pagmamanahan, e." My dad was only 5’5" tall.

Definitely, my dad is more… hindi nga more, e… Definitely, my dad is professional pagdating sa trabaho. I must admit na late ako palagi. Notorious ako for being late. I want to tarry a bit; I don’t want to be hurrying up all the time. It makes me tense. I’m not naman as late as, say, Aga Muhlach. Sabi nga ni Regine (Velasquez) sa akin, "Ikaw, Janno, late ka pero mas late sa ’yo si Aga." (Again, adding deadpan). But I’m not really very late. Mga one to two hours late lang ako.

I could believe it because now, you’re more than one hour late for this pictorial/interview.

Pero galing naman ako sa shooting, e.

Okay, you’re excused. Alibi admitted.

From here nga, I’m going pa to the rehearsal for my concert (The Vivas and I, staged two Sundays ago at the Araneta Coliseum. – RFL)

Any more differences?

I can’t think of any other. We are alike in many ways.

Many people say that, okay, when it comes to work attitude my dad is more professional than I am. But my dad says na ako daw, I’m more into my work. I’m more career-oriented daw than he is. Siya daw kasi, it’s his occupation, it’s his job. Pero ako daw, kina-career ko talaga."

What’s your best trait?

As much as possible, I try to be nice to everybody. When I was younger, I was an introvert, a loner, so people mistook me for being suplado."

Janno (Joking… with a straight face): Babaero. A, hindi, hindi! My dad is not babaero… ‘Yan ang isa pang difference namin. Oo, hindi siya nagtsi-chicks. With me, I admit that I’m a flirt. Pero hanggang doon lang. Hindi talaga ako naggi-girlfriend. The truth is that mas malapit ako sa girls kaysa sa boys. Ang boys kasi, they talk only about one thing – girls. Very limited ang range ng topics nila. With girls, puwedeng tsismis, kung anu-ano. Marami silang napag-uusapan."

And your worst trait?

Yon na nga ’yung tardiness.

Were you really a trapeze artist when you were young (and not yet in showbiz)?

That was my childhood dream – to be a trapeze artist or a jet pilot. I was fond of acrobatics. I must have been inspired by Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas’ movie Trapeze. Why a jet pilot naman? I guess because of my being a Sagittarian. May pagka-adventurous ang mga Sagittarian, di ba? Mahilig sa thrills at challenges. In school (Philippine Christian College), I was known as the trapeze artist. I would put a bamboo pole between fences and imagine myself to be a tight-rope walker.

features naman, ano ang nakuha sa ‘yo ni Janno?

I think pareho kami ng katawan, we have the same measurements, although mas maganda ang shoulders ni Janno kaysa sa akin. Gifted siya with hanger shoulders. Janno is smaller in build than I am pero proportioned ang katawan niya. Our eyes. Pareho ang mga mata namin, di ba?

We look almost alike, don’t we? Ang build naman, the same.

What do you think is Janno’s best side?

He has always been mild-mannered since he was a child. He’s sweet. He’s a perfectionist, like Baby’s father (Janno’s lolo).

You’ve never heard anybody say something bad about my dad, have you? He’s very friendly with everybody. In real life, he’s more of a comedian than I am. Makulit ’yan!

Do you watch each other’s movies?

I make it a point to watch his movies. His mom records his TV shows at ‘yon ang pinapanood ko. I like his movies, such as Pedro Penduko and Honey, Nasa Langit Na Ba Ako? which is a comedy na may halong light drama. May puso. His forte is comedy but he’s also good in drama.

I’m a big fan of my dad. When his old movies are shown on cable TV, pinapanood ko uli. Sa mga TV mini-series, I like him best in Kung Kailangan Mo Ako (ABS-CBN). Sa movies, maganda ’yung nagbabading-bading siya, ’yung Mahinhin movies niya. Ang husay-husay niya doon! Those bading-bading movies by Danny Zialcita are my favorites among my dad’s works.

Did you say that Janno is also a good drama actor (even if he had a happy childhood)?

(Joking with a serious look in his face): I’m also good in drama. Does that mean that I had an unhappy childhood?

No. Mahusay ka lang talagang artista.

I remember the first time I met my dad, my sister (who grew up with the old man) videotaped that meeting; kunwari siya ang host and she was interviewing me. She asked me, ‘Did you have an unhappy childhood? Did your father beat you up?’ With a straight face ’yan, ha. Lintek din naman ang sense of humor ng sister kong ’yon.

What sort of childhood did you have?

I was lucky that even if I grew up without a father, I was brought up well by my mom. Masaya naman ang childhood ko. Sabi ko nga kay Janno (at Melissa), "You’re lucky na mayroon kang guidance from your father, not only from your mother."

Spoonfed talaga ako. Mama’s Boy. Medyo spoiled. Lahat ng gusto namin naibibigay. I have a happy childhood. Isa lang ang hang-up ko. I was the ugly duckling. Hindi ako mestiso samantalang si Melissa ay maputi. I was thin while Melissa was healthy.

Didn’t you look for a father figure?

Siguro I did, subconsciously. I notice that during location shooting, ang mga nakaka-barkada at nakaka-roommate ko ay mas matatanda sa akin, like (the late) Ruben Rustia. I can relate better to people older than I am.

Do you think Janno (and Bing) are bringing up their kids the way you (and Baby) brought up your own kids?

Well, Janno said ganoon nga ang ginagawa niya.

Yes, I pattern the way Bing and I are bringing up our kids to the way my dad and my mom brought us up.

How did you bring up Janno (and Melissa)?

May freedom sila. We encouraged them to speak up, to express their ideas and opinions. They’re disciplined. I mean, you could bring them to the neighbor’s house and you could rest assured that they wouldn’t break anything. Behaved sila… noong maliliit pa.

Have you ever spanked Janno (or Melissa) when he was a kid?

There was never any reason for me to do it.

Did you, so to speak, "meddle" in Janno ang Bing’s affairs when they were still living with you?

Sometimes. We couldn’t help it. ‘Yan si Janno, may pagka-burara. He’s a Lola’s boy. He’s used to having other people fix his things. Kaya ‘yan si Bing, kawawa kay Janno because she’s the one fixing everything, including Janno’s wardrobe. Dependent ‘yan si Janno – sa Lola niya, sa mom niya at ngayon naman, sa asawa niya.

That’s the good thing about my parents. They don’t meddle, hindi sila nakikialam. When Bing and I stayed with my parents, ipinanganak na si Alyssa. One year kami nakatira sa parents ko. At first, I must admit that Bing and my mom went through some adjustment period. It’s common naman, di ba? You know, the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law hindi kaagad nagkakasundo. Parang nagko-compete sila, di ba? But Bing and my mom are okay now.

When Janno and Bing fight, who do you side with?

Neither. Wala akong kinakampihan sa kanilang dalawa. Pero itong si Baby, maka-Janno ‘yan. Baby niya kasi si Janno until now.

Now that Janno and Bing are living apart from you, do you still mind them?

Not anymore. Hindi na dapat – unless they ask for our advice or opinion.

They don’t. Strong ang ties namin; hindi nasisira. Sometimes, I don’t like the food at home, or hindi kami nakapagluto, what I do is go to my parents’ home to eat anytime, kahit walang pasabi. Or sometimes, I call, "Ma, may ulam pa ba kayo? O, sige, makikikain ako diyan." Sometimes naman, we all go out to eat.

Janno and you were together in a few movies. (I Love You, Sabado and Pedro Penduko where Ronaldo was only guest star). How is it working together? Does the father-son factor get in the way?

Okey lang kami.

Masaya kami together. No problem.

If you had a choice, what kind of movie would you like to do?

 Ronaldo: A light comedy, with Janno and I playing father and son na para lang mag-barkada – you know, nagbibiruan at naggigimik together.

I have a project in mind for us noon pa. Ang title Anak ni Mahinhin. Dad will play the father who has given up his kabadingan, pero closet queen pa rin. He doesn’t know that his son, ako ’yon, ay ganoon din pala so every now and then they’re surprised when they bump into each other sa gay bar.

Did Janno grow up the way you expected and wanted him to?

Oo naman. I think so, I think so! There are a few things na, you know, sana magbago… But as it is, okay na okay siya. He’s an ideal son. I think Janno will improve as he grows older. Like his being a slow mover, kaya madalas ma-late sa appointments. He always takes his own sweet time, as if he has all the time in the world. But in fairness to Janno, he’s punctual naman sa shootings at tapings, sa mga rehearsal.

Honestly? I think so. (Addressing Ronaldo who was seated with Baby five tables away) Di ba, Dad?

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