Christopher de Leon: A season of grace

- Mario E. Bautista -
He was only 17 when the late Lino Brocka introduced him in Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang in 1974, the coming-of-age story of a young man who befriends their small town’s outcasts, a lunatic and a leper played by Lolita Rodriguez and Mario O’Hara. He won the FAMAS Best Actor award for his very first film and now, 31 years later, Christopher de Leon remains the top dramatic actor in our country.

At a time when most actors have stopped doing movies, particularly our action stars, Boyet continues to be active on both the big and small screens. Last year, his Mano Po 3 with Vilma Santos harvested most of the trophies in the Metro-Manila Filmfest, including the Best Actor award for him. On TV, after doing soaps like Ang Iibigin Ay Ikaw and Hanggang Kailan, he played a villain, Dr. Zombie, in the recently-concluded Darna and currently topbills Agos in GMA 7’s Now and Forever. Boyet attributes the continuous success of his career mainly to the Lord. "Everything is grace," he says. "If He didn’t will for me to go on, perhaps I’ve retired a long time ago."

In return, he remains an active elder of the Oasis of Love Catholic Community, serving in their Mass every week and sharing his testimony of conversion in their Life in the Spirit seminars that aim to spread the word of God. He also gives 10 percent of whatever he earns back to the church.

Off camera, Boyet is a very devoted husband to Sandy Andolong and dedicated father to his six kids. Ian, his son by Nora Aunor, is 29 and separated from his wife, Izza Vicente. His eldest with Sandy, Rafael Sandino, is now in college. After him come Miguel, Gabriel, Maria Angelica and Micaela.

It was only after 19 years of living together that Boyet finally got the annulment of his 1976 beach wedding to Nora Aunor. He and Sandy were finally married in church at the beautiful chapel in Caleruega, Nasugbu, overlooking scenic Taal Lake on March 27, 2001.

"Sandy is one of the best things that ever happened to me," Boyet declares.

He is glad to be involved in another filmfest entry this year, Blue Moon, Regal’s Metro Manila filmfest entry. "This is an epic romance about family relationships," he says. "I’m glad to be Eddie Garcia’s son once again. When I started my film career in 1974, he was also my father in Lino Brocka’s Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang. After that, we also played father and son in Sa Ngalan ng Ama. Blue Moon is our third time as father and son. Through the years, we also worked together as co-actors like in Minsan Pa Nating Hagkan ang Nakaraan and Mano Po 3, or with him as my director, like in Sinasamba Kita, Paano Ba ang Mangarap and Imortal, all big hits and all with Vilma Santos. It’s always a pleasure working with him as he’s a true professional at talagang gaganahan ka kapag siyang kaeksena mo. We just worked together also in Darna."

Blue Moon
is the story of three generations of men. Eddie is the grandfather, Boyet is the son, and Dennis Trillo is the grandson. "My father and I are alienated from one another," says Boyet. "I’m a widower and Dennis is my son who often sides with his grandpa. When my father learns he’s dying of cancer, he decides to search for his one true love, Corazon. He goes from Luzon to Mindanao searching for her and this becomes a road movie na kasama niya kami ng apo niya. During the trip that takes us to Laoag, Vigan and Baguio then to Bicol and Cebu, we get on each other’s nerves, but we also get to understand each other better. In the end, he’d finally get to see his long-lost love, played by Boots Anson Roa, and there will be a big twist in the story that will touch the viewer’s heart."

Boyet is also embarking on a new career as a singer. Viva is releasing his first solo album next month containing 12 theme songs from his past films, including Bituing Walang Ningning, Sana Ay Ikaw na Nga, Beloved, Iduyan Mo from Agila, Sinasamba Kita and more.

He just returned from a series of shows in the US. Did he get in touch with ex-wife Nora Aunor? "No, I was so busy all the time. But people there say malakas daw ang laban ng case niya. Pero siempre, ibang justice system doon, walang palakasan. I’m really praying she’d get acquitted and that she’d be able to come home. Hopefully, this is an eye-opener for her and everybody. Lahat naman ng ganitong nangyayari should help make us better persons who learn from our mistakes."











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