Ronnie Henares: One of him
STAR BYTES - Butch Francisco () - August 9, 2011 - 12:00am

The more recent generation knows Ronnie Henares to be a talent manager to singers: The man responsible for repackaging Regine Velasquez and turning her into the fine songbird that she is today.

Very few probably are aware that Ronnie was once a matinee idol in the music profession. He was the other half of the famous singing duo called The Two of Us. His partner was Jojit Paredes, the cousin of Jim Paredes, who was also a kilabot ng mga colegiala as part of the Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society, now better known as the APO. Ronnie and Jojit were schoolmates in La Salle grade school, while Jim and his then large group were from rival Ateneo.

That time, The Two of Us (as managed by Ronnie’s younger brother Atom Henares) was more popular than the APO since the duo was more visible on TV than the APO (although both groups made a killing doing campus tours). I actually was more familiar with Jojit because his dad was the classmate of my parents in law school. The older Paredes, from Abra I was told, was a very good-looking man — as my parents pointed out in their school annual.

My mom delighted in teasing me about how Atty. Paredes courted her. Of course, that was a mere fabrication to annoy me since children always have this fantasy about their parents’ pristine love for each other — that no one else got in the way of their romance.

What they didn’t know was that I had secretly wished my mom had married Atty. Paredes instead so that I’d have a famous older brother in Jojit — or maybe I could have been Jojit in short pants. But really, there was nothing between my mom and his dad. In time, my parents clarified that and that they were just being playful with me. Besides, I was never gullible — not even as a kid. I knew from the start that they were just pulling my leg.

After The Two of Us, Jojit eventually disappeared from the scene (he is now in L.A. married to an American and works as an assistant administrator in a hospital), while Ronnie’s popularity lingered, especially when he and Vilma Santos began dating. Ronnie also joined Penthouse 7 as executive producer/dancer and also part of the group was Ida Ramos, who many years later would become his wife. (Ida Henares now heads GMA Artist Center.) In between, he also hosted his own variety shows on TV, primarily in the Broadcast City stations.

Today, I am glad to see Ronnie doing well as a sitcom actor in Pepito Manaloto where he is cast as the unscrupulous Tom Diones, Michael V.’s assistant, who can never be trusted — not even with a moth-eaten old pair of socks. But he is very effective playing the character.

Actually, Ronnie has a rather solid background in acting — having caught the tail end of June Keithley’s reign as queen of the St. Paul College stage (they both starred in a local production of West Side Story). He also used to appear as guest in various TV programs in the past and had done parts in the films of Lino Brocka and Maryo J. de los Reyes. Pepito Manaloto, however, is his first sitcom.

In last Sunday’s Pepito Manaloto, he was a riot, especially in those scenes where even in his sickbed in the hospital, he kept flirting with a pretty nurse. It is in this sitcom where I first got to see Ronnie as a comedian and it is regrettable that he wasn’t discovered earlier for comedy parts because he is good at it.

Although most of Pepito Manaloto’s humor is lowbrow — with the more sophisticated viewer always several steps ahead of the punch line, I still find the show relevant and useful because along with the comedy are scenes interjected with public service.

In this particular episode where Ronnie ends up in the hospital due to stress and an unhealthy lifestyle, some of the causes of stroke are spelled out — smoking, too much alcohol and fatty food. Of course, those who read the lifestyle section of newspapers already know the aggravating factors that lead to heart problems.

 But what about those who do not have access to newspapers and the Internet? A program like Pepito Manaloto that caters to the CD crowd is the perfect vehicle to help disseminate these pieces of information to the masses.

Most relevant, however, was the interview with a doctor who talked about organ donation and how this is done. That was truly most useful and informative.

Ronnie Henares may have started his comedic acting career a bit late, but I’m glad that when he finally did, he chose a show that provides both entertainment and information to the viewers.

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