LT: Golden girl

KAPUSO DAY - Butch S. Raquel - The Philippine Star

Lorna Tolentino seems to be relishing life after 50. Six years since her husband, action legend Rudy Fernandez succumbed to cancer in 2008, Lorna refuses to dwell in the shadows of yesteryear.

The multi-awarded actress, now 52, says she enjoys the goodness of life, basking daily in the company of her family, the solace of a thriving farm business in Cavite and the bounties of a prolific showbiz career.

Her weekly schedule: Alternating between managing produce and livestock for profit, and fulfilling her network commitments in show business.

Lorna’s Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are designated for taping episodes of My Destiny, her latest venture in GMA. “Yung weekends ko naman sa farm kasi kailangan pa rin may titingin sa lahat. It can run on its own, but it’s really different if you’re there.”

Lorna owns a five-hectare property in Cavite called Vera Grace Farm, an expanse lined with rustic cottages, edible greens and a variety of produce. Her countryside property, co-owned with family friends, was recently used as a set during location shootings of the recently-concluded GMA Afternoon Prime remake, Villa Quintana.

Off-duty she’s a hands-on entrepreneur and family woman. But at work, she commits full-time.

In My Destiny, Lorna portrays Agnes, a loving mom to onscreen sisters played by Carla Abellana and Rhian Ramos. The primetime rom-com also showcases a stellar cast including Tom Rodriguez, Sid Lucero, Al Tantay and Kuh Ledesma.

My Destiny reunites Lorna, Rhian and director Joyce Bernal, who first collaborated in the GMA apocalyptic thriller Genesis. “I’ve already worked with Rhian before so it’s more relaxed now,” she tells of her younger co-stars. “Si Carla naman, first time, pero parang matagal ko na siya nakasama, siguro din kasi yung tatay niya is already an actor, so hindi na bago sa kanya yung business. Sanay na sanay na rin siya.”

Carla is the daughter of actor Rey PJ Abellana and the granddaughter of actress Delia Razon, who came to prominence in the golden age of Philippine showbiz.

Working with a new set of rising stars is a delight, says Lorna. “With them, hindi na kailangan turuan pa kasi alam na nila yung role nila. They know their work. They already know what they need as artists.”

Her words are with merit, of course. As a first-rate actress herself, she knows talent when she sees it. 

In 1993, she secured a career-high Best Actress victory for the film Narito Ang Puso Ko in which she earned the “Grandslam” title — a distinction given to industry practitioners who win the same award across all four major award-giving bodies in the same calendar year. Only two other actresses have held the coveted Grandslam Best Actress title in Philippine film history: Superstar Nora Aunor and Star for All Seasons Vilma Santos.

Still, Lorna refuses to be called phenomenal. “All of us are extraordinary,” she justifies, modesty in tow. “Nora Aunor is Nora Aunor, and Vilma Santos is Vilma Santos.”

Lorna lights up when talk turns to her two sons with her late husband Rudy “Daboy” Fernandez. “Si Ralph kasi family man na siya, so medyo iba yung focus niya, nasa business side. Si Renz naman, enhancement of being an actor, walang tigil na workshops and workout.”

Lorna’s granddaughter Leila Victoria, Ralph’s firstborn, also takes up much of her time. Though a loving grandma, she is never one to spoil kids rotten. Her principle in raising children: No means no. “Syempre as lola, hindi mo kokontrahin. Pag sinabing, ‘No’ ng mama, ‘No’ na din.”

Leila Victoria is named after the child’s two grandmothers — Leila, after Ralph’s mother-in-law, and Victoria derived from Lorna’s birth name: Victoria Lorna Perez Aluquin.

At 52, is Lorna ready for a second romance? “I’m thinking more about myself now, more of that,” she answers quickly, brushing off the prospect of love and its ideals. “Kung may dadating, okay. Pero kung wala, it doesn’t bother me.”

Daboy would have wanted it that way anyway — or at least that’s what Lorna presumes. “Malamang ayaw din niya akong ma-in love ulit,” she quips, chuckling. “Sa pagkakakilala ko sa kanya, malamang ganoon na nga.”










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