Direk Danny: All in God’s time

LIVE FEED - Bibsy M. Carballo - The Philippine Star

One of the most colorful personages we had met in the world of show business was Danny Zialcita. He was entertaining, interesting, unique and friendly. Yet, we never could really claim to have been his friend. At best, we could be an admirer, and we gave tribute to him in the best way we knew — by watching his movies.

Which is why we were most surprised when people were calling us when he died, asking for information as to where the wake was, the whys and the wherefores of his passing.

Perhaps, it was because we were his most recent contact from media if one could call five years recent. At that time, he agreed to an interview, asked that we see him at his home and spoke of a project for Gabby Concepcion, which we filed for The Philippine STAR. At that time, we wrote: “Gabby’s father Rolly was on the phone talking with Danny and he hands us the phone. Apparently, Rolly has a story for Gabby he wants Danny to direct. Zialcita’s mind was not only as sharp as it was in the past; his excitement at reappearing once again on the scene was infectious. He told us of how God had been guiding his every move in the past. Man starts and God finishes, he stated. He felt this during the peak of his career when he was churning out movie after movie… Nine hits in a row? That couldn’t have been possible without Divine intervention,” he interjects.

Upon his death Sunday, we were  told his body was cremated and no wake was scheduled. It seemed to us that Danny had directed his final movie. And we remember “Man starts and God finishes.”

We contacted some of his favorite actors for more recent information. Janice de Belen had appeared in Nagalit ang Buwan sa Haba ng Gabi, Menudo at Pandesal, Bakit Madalas ang Tibok ng Puso? but best recalled her first starrer Bakit Manipis ang Ulap (1985). She had lost touch with Danny, was shocked to hear of the news. We even called Digna Santiago of Premiere Productions for possible information from Danny’s wife, Leonor Vergara, who was a Premiere star. They apparently hadn’t spoken in years. Gabby himself had no information.

We spoke with Laurice Guillen who could only recall how Danny had gone to her husband Johnny Delgado’s wake in 2009, how well and healthy he looked, and no one had said he had been bedridden for a year. She then recalled the films she had done with him which included Nagalit ang Buwan sa Haba ng Gabi, Bakit Manipis ang Ulap?, Bakit Madalas ang Tibok ng Puso, how their locations were only in Danny’s house on Lee Street in Mandaluyong, how they spent time eating and chatting after which he would shoot a sequence. “Danny apparently probed our minds, got ideas from all our kuwentos,” she said. He also sprung weird surprises like one time he handed Laurice a painting saying, “This is your talent fee for the day.”

The most recent info we gathered was from Gloria Diaz who said Danny had gone to her house several times with her daughter Beth just to visit. “He looked good and not at all sick,” she observed. Gloria had appeared in Palabra de Honor, which she claimed as her favorite, Nagalit ang Buwan sa Haba ng Gabi, May Lamok sa Loob ng Kulambo, Menudo at Pandesal and Lalakwe.

Chanda Romero was another favorite actress of Danny who won Best Supporting Actress, 1982 FAMAS, for Karma with Vilma Santos, Tommy Abuel and Ronaldo Valdez.

And of course, Philippine Cinema will never forget the film that started it all — Dear Heart and the pairing of the biggest teen stars of Filipino movies, Sharon Cuneta and Gabby Concepcion.

Indeed, “Man starts and God finishes,” as the maverick filmmaker Danny Zialcita would say.

(E-mail me at [email protected].)









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