Bagets Forever
- Ricky Lo () - June 11, 2006 - 12:00am
The movie that became a cultural phenomenon.

How true, how true!

That’s how the Viva Platinum DVD edition of the landmark 1984 youth-oriented flick Bagets is being marketed.

Written by Jake Tordesillas and directed by Maryo J. delos Reyes, Bagets turned out to be such a surprise super hit that before the year was over, a sequel was back in theaters, swamped by fans all over the country like the first one.

Bagets 1
starred (according to how they were billed) William Martinez, JC Bonnin, Herbert Bautista, Raymond Lauchengco, Aga Muhlach (take note: no "and" before Aga’s name, only a comma); with Eula Valdez, and Yayo Aguila and Jobelle Salvador (who were introduced in the movie) as the Bagets girls. Bagets 2 was topbilled also by the four guys (minus Aga), plus Jon Hernandez, Ramon Christopher and Francis Magalona.

And what was Bagets all about?

Growing-up pains, that’s what.

The whole two-hour movie covers one schoolyear during which the bagets experience a lot of "firsts" – kiss, love, infatuation, heartbreak, circumcision, intramurals, junior-senior prom, loss of innocence and other rites of passage. The behind-the-scenes goings-on proved to be just as exciting as, if not even more so than, what went on on screen as you’ll find out by and by.

Conversations
had fun reminiscing Sunday last week when the stars of Bagets 1 and 2 had a reunion during a pictorial at Raymund Isaac’s studio in Makati City. Now 22 years older (it’s up to you to compute how old they are now), the barkada was as noisy as they were during their bagets days, as if time hadn’t passed at all. Yes, Bagets Forever!

Hail, hail, the gang’s all here?

Sadly, not everybody was accounted for. Jon Hernandez died in a car accident in 1994 while JC Bonnin is now spreading The Word as a pastor in London. Aga wasn’t around either (due to a previous pressing commitment) but he sat down for a Conversation two days earlier at a cozy room in Richmonde Hotel in Ortigas Center.

Present were (at random now) Herbert Bautista, William Martinez and wife Yayo Aguila, Raymond Lauchengco, Ramon Christopher, Eula Valdez, Cheska Iñigo, Francis Magalona and Jobelle Salvador who flew in from Las Vegas (where she has just bought three houses) purposely for the reunion.

What brought the bagets together?

Yes, the Bagets Foundation formed recently which aims "to train young people in the performing arts."

"We are giving back what was given us," said Raymond.

Elected president was Herbert, with direk Maryo J. delos Reyes as chairman. The other officers are: Francis, vice president; Cheska, treasurer; Yayo, corporate secretary; and Jobelle, Ramon, Eula, Raymond and William as members of the board of directors, with Aga and JC as honorary members.

"We’re thankful to Boss Vic (del Rosario, Jr. of the Viva Group of Companies) for letting us use the Bagets logo," said Herbert who cooked up the idea of putting up the foundation overnight while shooting the breeze with Francis over one bottle each of beer.

So whatever happened to the bagets 22 years after the movie, which left an indelible mark in the ’80s the way the Lo’Waist Gang did in the ’50s? A lot.

• Aga is now a superstar, a multi-awarded actor, the Commercial King and father of three (Luigi, 19, with Janice de Belen; and twins Atasha and Andres with wife Charlene Gonzalez).

• William married Yayo and they have four children – Patrizha, 20, a Communication Arts junior; Dana, 16, high school junior; Dannielle, 12, grade seven; and Adam, five, kindergarten; all in Miriam College.

• Herbert has a Philosophy degree from San Beda College and has successfully combined showbiz and politics. He was chosen Kabataang Barangay youth representative of Metro Manila in 1985 (his appointment as Youth Sector Representative for the Batasang Pambansa in 1986 was aborted by the EDSA People Power Revolution), elected Quezon City councilor (along with a fellow bagets politician named Mike Defensor) in 1992 and then vice mayor in 1995, ran for mayor (he lost) in 1998 and won again as vice mayor to incumbent QC Mayor Sonny Belmonte in 2001. Herbert has three children (with two different women) but is unmarried.

• Raymond, the recruit from theater, is an accomplished singer, with photography as his other passion. He married writer Mia Rocha two years ago; they have no children yet.

• Francis, the country’s foremost rap artist, married Pia Arroyo and they have eight children (Francis himself comes from a big family; his parents, Pancho Magalona and Tita Duran, bore nine children) – Unna, 22, a B.S. Psychology graduate from Ateneo de Manila; Nicolo, 20, an Electronics Engineering Communications student at AMA; Maxenne, 19, an actress, a Theater Arts student at Ateneo; Frank, 18, a Fine Arts freshman at UP; Isabella, 17, a Creative Writing freshman at Ateneo; Elmo, 12, a high school freshman at Montessori Antipolo; Arkin, six, grade one, same school; and Clara, five, kindergarten, same school. Besides co-hosting the GMA 7’s noontime show Eat, Bulaga!, Francis is also a record producer for Sony BMG and runs his own Filipino Pictures, Inc. (which produces, shoots and edits movies). He’ll sit as one of the judges of ABC 5’s Philippine Idol talent show.

• Ramon, son of Pilita Corrales and Eddie Gutierrez, married and separated from Lotlot de Leon with whom he has four children (names and schools where they study withheld upon Ramon’s request to protect the kids’ privacy).

• Cheska, daughter of Bayanihan dancer Lina Iñigo, married businessman Tiu Laurel by whom she has three children – Kai, 18, a pre-med student; Bea, 12, who studies at a Chinese school; and Miko, 10, who studies at another Chinese school. In 1986, Cheska quit showbiz and stayed in the US for two years. Back home, she finished B.S. Psychology at the Assumption Convent and, for a while, helped run the family’s insurance business (aside from the fishing business), and became a Pilates instructor until she broke her knee and retired. She resumed acting last year when direk Maryo cast her in the ABS-CBN soap Mga Anghel na Walang Langit and was in the cast of the just-concluded GMA teleseries Encantadia.

• Eula, granddaughter of Fernando Amorsolo, has metamorphosed into one of the country’s finest soap villainesses who also shines on stage, recently playing the title role in the hit musical Zsa Zsa Zaturnah (which Regal Films is filming, with Zsa Zsa Padilla as lead star). She is married to Richard Litonjua by whom she has a year-old daughter, Juliana. She finished AB Asian Studies at UST.

• Jobelle, who’s from the Salvador clan (daughter of the late actor-director-producer Leroy Salvador), is semi-retired. She has two children, Jeremiah, 17, and Juliana, five. Based in Las Vegas, Jobelle sometimes stays in Japan where she worked as show promoter and where she met the father of her younger child, from whom she’s separated.

What do the original bagets remember most about those carefree, happy-go-lucky days?

• Aga: "My first shooting day when direk Maryo asked me to drop my pants. ‘Huh?’ I said. ‘You’ll jump into the pool,’ he told me. In that scene, I was in my trunks and all I did was kiss the feet of Baby Delgado (now based in New Jersey), the older woman I was supposed to be infatuated with. I even did a scene imitating Michael Jackson who was my idol at that time. There was camaraderie among the group (Bagets 1). Herbert used to be my neighbor on New York St. in Cubao, Quezon City and we would go to the set together and hang out together."

• Herbert: "Being the oldest in the group, William was our kuya. Siya rin ang promotor ng mga kalokohan. We all had a crush on Yayo but we gave in to William bilang respeto kay Kuya. Si Aga, napakalalim ng taong ‘yan; akala ko guwapo lang. I remember our lakwatsa sa Baguio. We enjoyed all the foolishness together."

• William: "The idea of doing the movie came from me and Douglas (Quijano, his manager then). The word bagets was coined by Alona Alegre, derived from bagito (new/greenhorn). Regal Films turned down the project so we approached Viva Films. I also remember that everytime I would bring Yayo home, I would warn her, ‘Huwag kang maniniwala sa kanila; lolokohin ka lang ng mga ‘yon. Sa akin ka maniwala.’ That’s how I got Yayo’s trust. O, di ba tama ako? After all these years, we are still together!"

• Raymond: "I was different from the other bagets because they were all actors and I was a singer. When the movie made money, we were all surprised. The theaters were bursting with fans who trailed us anywhere we went. We couldn’t believe it. We wondered, ‘Bakit!?!’"

That’s also what Aga vividly remembers – the thick crowd that met the Bagets in theater tour. As he looked at the screaming fans from inside the van, Aga turned to Herbert with frightening excitement and said, "Our lives will never be the same again!"

His words proved to be prophetic.
* * *
E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph

AGA ATENEO BAGETS CHESKA CHILDREN EULA VALDEZ HERBERT HERBERT BAUTISTA JOBELLE YAYO
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