A glorious day for Gloria

Baby K. Jimenez - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - ‘Tis like a scene from a teleserye. What’s a seemingly murky dark and dead quiet compound instantly turns into a dreamland as a vehicle crawls into a halt. On queue, all dazzling lights turn on as music simultaneously blares — Happy birthday to you! Gloria Romero, regal and every inch a movie queen, gets off the car and glamorously enters  — shocked and overwhelmed.  Surprise! The Vera Perez garden is lit up again just like the old times. 

Director of the segment, only child Maritess Gutierrez proudly beams as she walks by her Mom while cameras start rolling to record the moment. Marichu Vera-Perez Maceda (whose parents were Sampaguita filmmakers Doc Perez and “Tita Nene”) welcomes mother and daughter amidst a gushing crowd peopled by Glo’s associates, friends and colleagues. Indeed, a grand befitting birthday celebration for Gloria who is turning 79. It’s a wrap!  Stunningly perfect, take one.

“Maritess told me we’re going to a function in Makati and on the way, will pick up Marichu. I had no idea! It’s so dark and I said, ‘Ano ba naman si Marichu, dilim dilim, walang ilaw, ang kuripot!’ Glo quipped with a laugh as a long line of well-wishers in a meet-and-greet mode awaited their turn to hug and buzz the royal celebrator clad in a red Paul Cabral dress. 

Strewn on every table were collector’s items of Glo’s still photos from all her films. Lollie Mara, holding one pic, quickly dashed to ask Gloria for an autograph. Robert Arevalo staring at a costume pic of Glo with Cezar Ramirez asked Celia Rodriguez and wife Barbara what could be the title of that team-up (we found out later it is Palasig). Likewise, at another table, Pempe Rodrigo and Minda Morena were wondering who was the other lady singing with Glo in the glossy pic they were holding. An inch away, Susan Roces reacted with amusement as someone easily deciphered it was her with Glo in the film Anong Ganda Mo. As a choice buffet catered by Marichu’s sisters Lilibeth and Chona was starting to attract the guests, Boots Anson-Roa was clicking her pocketsize digital nonstop to get a vantage view of Gloria and other guests as well. Amalia Fuentes begged not to be photographed, “was rushing, did not have time to put on some make-up.”

The program was entertainingly short and crisp but most of the audience reached for the hankies towards the end.  Punctuated with good humor and timing, Tirso Cruz III sang as well. The other performers included Mabuhay Singers, Edgar Mortiz, Ricky Davao and Jamie Rivera.  Glo’s only grandson Chris read a personal poem that tugged at everyone’s heart. The finale was Maritess’ vocal rendition of Through the Years as tears flowed her cheeks. 

Glo’s thank-you speech was marked by utmost gratitude and appreciation — she, from the grand school of good manners and right conduct. 

Happy birthday, Glo. You are a class by yourself. There’s no one like you!

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