How McDo changed Lolo Rudy’s life
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo () - May 20, 2002 - 12:00am
You can never imagine how that 30-second McDo commercial entitled Lolo has drastically changed the life of the lovable grandfather who plays the 80-year-old senile title-roler, making a paper doll out of a napkin while waiting for his favorite granddaughter Karen whom he mistakes for his other apo, Gina, even when Karen is seated in front of him.

is none other than former Sampaguita actor (circa early ’50s) Rudy Francisco who quit showbiz after barely three years and 10 movies in favor of lawyering, serving as legal counsel of Sampaguita Pictures for more than 40 years until his retirement in 1997. No wonder he was credible and plausible in his portrayal of the lolong ulyanin. Somebody who didn’t have any acting experience wouldn’t have done it as well.

The irony of it all is that that McDo commercial, done only in more than fours hours, made Rudy much, much more popular than his brief years as a movie actor ever did, turning him into an overnight sensation. Now, Rudy is everybody’s lolo, never mind if, he smiled, "Ako ang lolo na walang apo," not one of his three sons having gotten married.

"Everywhere I go," said Lolo Rudy, "people recognize me; everybody calls me Lolo, especially the kids and even their parents. Some people jokingly ask me for one half of a McDo sandwich. ‘Yung iba naman, tinatanong ako, ‘Lolo, nasaan si Karen?’ I would tell them, ‘Hinahanap ko pa, e!’ One girl approached me in the mall and said, ‘Lolo, ako po si Gina.’ I smiled and said, ‘Baka ikaw si Karen?’ She answered, ‘Si Gina po ako sa araw; si Karen sa gabi!’ I’m happy with all the attention."

And McDo must even be far happier. For sure, that Lolo commercial has propelled the McDo sales to astronomical heights and has earned, more than just sales, honors for McDo. The commercial, directed by Swiss-American Thierry Notz of PROVILL Production House, has already won four TV Ad of the Year awards (from, among other groups, the Philippine Association of National Advertisers, the Creative Guild of the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific Advertising Awards).

Except for their being both octogenarian, Lolo Rudy is not senile/ulyanin like the grandpa in the McDo commercial.

"He has sharp memory," smiled Marietta Yulo delos Santos, 60, a native of Bacolod, Lolo Rudy’s wife of more than 40 years. (They have three sons – Peter who’s an advertising executive; R.S. Francisco, the movie-TV actor who also directs commercials, among them for Close-Up featuring Leandro Muñoz; and Rac who’s a computer programmer).

To "test" his memory, I asked Lolo Rudy to recall his early years as an actor and he did, complete with details.

"It was my brother Fred Francisco (screen name: Fred Montilla) who started ahead of me at Sampaguita Pictures. He’s my only brother; he later became a five-termer councilor in Quezon City.

"I did only about 10 movies from 1951 to 1954 when I passed the bar. I finished Law at FEU and I got an average of 86 at the bar exams. I quit showbiz because of conflict of schedules. Hearing of court cases were scheduled weeks in advance and shooting of movies oftentimes only days ahead. If I arrived late on the set, I’d be fined P100 which was a big amount at that time; if I missed a hearing, I’d be fined a bigger amount and risked contempt of court.

"So Judge Jose O. Vera, one of the founders of Sampaguita Pictures, told me, ‘If you were my son, I’d advise you to concentrate on being a lawyer.’ I followed his advice and became the legal counsel of Sampaguita while at the same time handling cases (legal separation, custody of children, etc.) filed mostly by my female fans."

Among his films were Batas ng Daigdig (directed by the late Temyong Marquez), Sinderela (starring Lolita Rodriguez), Buhay Pilipino (with Lolita Rodriguez and her former husband Eddie Arenas), May Araw Pang Darating (with Gloria Romero and Carmen Rosales), Dalagang Ilocana (with Gloria Romero, Dolphy and Ric Rodrigo), Binibining Kalog (with Lolita Rodriguez), Camp O’Donnell and Tres Muskiteras (with, among others, Myrna Delgado).

The Lolo commercial is his first ever, an acting "comeback" after nearly five decades.

"I was excited doing the commercial," said Lolo Rudy. "It felt like my first acting job."

It was his son R.S. who pushed him into auditioning.

"One day, R.S. invited me out; kakain daw kami. That was in Oct. last year. ‘Yon pala he was bringing me to the audition. I asked him, ‘What will I do?’ He said, ‘Basta, act as if you’re ulyanin.’ So I did."

To make a long story short, Lolo Rudy got the role, even if he was the last to audition following more than 70 other aspirants.

While waiting for his turn during the shooting, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the McDo Commonwealth outlet, Lolo Rudy started making a paper doll out of a napkin and direk Notz saw him and said, "I like that!" Later, direk Notz heard Lolo Rudy singing Leron, Leron, Sinta and he said, "I like that!" So both ideas were included in the final cut. Veteran (of more than a dozen commercials) Glomi delos Reyes playing Karen, a name Glomi has decided to adopt when the commercial became a smash hit.

Rudy welcomes with open heart the radical changes in his life brought about by the commercial. (He is now shooting his second McDo commercial.) He donated one-third of his talent fee (confidential) to caring for kids ("I love kids") via the Club 31 at the Cubao area (Quezon City) where he and his wife live. He’s active in Club 31’s regular free dental/medical projects and he usually brings along McDo sandwiches (bought with his own money) and McDo giveaways for the children.

Yes, he’s aware of his being the subject of text jokes, including the obscene ones which amuse him – and his wife and children – no end. Belatedly, he has embarked on a TV career, guesting in such shows as Talk TV, Daddy Di Do Du, Pipol, Extra! Extra and others.

As usual, Lolo Rudy starts his day by working out on his treadmill, sometimes ballroom-dancing with his wife right in their room. He stands 5’10" and weighs 150 pounds, a trim figure he maintains with a low-fat diet and lots of water. He sleeps early and wakes up early.

"He’s a loving husband," said Marietta, planting a kiss on Lolo Rudy’s cheek. "Everytime we pray, he always thanks God for giving him a loving wife and loving children. He always ends our prayer by saying ‘I love you’ to me."

Said R.S., "He never raises his voice. He has never spanked any of us kids. We never saw him and Mom fight."

Very gentle, just like everybody’s lolo in the McDo commercial.

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