Tears of Joy at Erap’s starry Seniors Prom

Ricky Lo - FUNFARE - The Philippine Star

Some are dead and some are living

In my life I’ve loved them all

— The Beatles’ In My Life

“I could feel that Ronnie is here,” a misty-eyed Susan Roces whispered to Marichu “Manay Ichu” Maceda as they watched pictures from the so-called Ang Lumang Album being flashed on the monitor that served as the backdrop of the stage at the once-in-a-lifetime reunion hosted by Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada Sunday night at the Sampaguita Events Place.

Susan was watching an old photo of hers from the movie Ang Daigdig Ko’y Ikaw, the first of their series of team-ups leading to their Christmas wedding on Dec. 25, 1968. In another old photo, Da King was dashing, so full of life with so many great expectations, so handsome like a Greek god.

With the Beatles’ song In My Life as background music, the video show was the highlight of the nostalgic evening, drawing tears of joy from most of the “forever stars” that graced, as organizers Erap and Manay Ichu called the event, Seniors Prom. Rightly so, because those who showed up were happily senior, three on wheelchairs: LVN sweetheart Mila del Sol who didn’t look she’s into her early 90s, Josefino Cenizal and Herminio “Butch” Bautista, father of Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista.

In fact, an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia seized the guests as they entered the venue (formerly the bungalow that housed the offices of Sampaguita big boss Dr. Jose R. “Doc” Perez), greeted by their old photos neatly arranged on giant boards that covered one whole wall. Copies of the pictures had been framed and given to them as souvenirs. Was it Divina Valencia spotted wiping a tear as she scanned the “wall of stars?”


















It took Manay Ichu more than three months to accomplish the feat, starting from making the list of stars not only from Sampaguita but from other studios (LVN, Premiere, etc.), carefully checking “who are gone and who have remained,” collecting the photos from Tropicana and other sources, tracing most of the stars’ whereabouts prior to sending them the invitations, dressing up the venue and putting together film clips showing at their prime the likes of Carmen Rosales and Rogelio dela Rosa, Leila Morena and Efren Reyes, Mila del Sol and Leopoldo Salcedo, Gloria Romero in a “balloon” dress, Susan Roces and Amalia Fuentes (in the iconic dance sequence from Big Broadcast, Sampaguita’s anniversary offering back then)…a masterpiece capped by BFF (Best Friends Forever) Erap and FPJ singing the Nonoy Zuñiga classic Doon Lang in split screen.

It was a starry reunion never done before  and that may never happen again, making Manay Ichu choke with emotion seeing that 95 percent of those invited showed up. It was a welcome blast from the past, a testimony to a lasting friendship tempered by time, something that the new breed of stars should emulate.

Old stars don’t fade, they continue to shine??














Over dinner, guests had a grand time swapping stories of yesteryear, asking one another what they’d been up to even as they grieved for those who have gone ahead to a place where stars shine forever and ever.

The Seniors Prom wouldn’t be complete without the SOP “class picture,” so Manay Ichu invited the star guests to the stage to pose for posterity. And as the cameras clicked, I guess everybody blinked more tears to the tune of Those Were The Days My Friend playing in the background — you know: Those were the days, my friend, we thought would never end…Sadly, to paraphrase another song, some good things do end, never last.

As the night wore older and everybody hugged everybody else and kissed each other goodbye, another song kept playing in the soundtrack of my mind: Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind…

Oh well, ‘till then, ‘till they meet again for another seniors prom — that is, if there will ever be one again.

(E-mail reactions at [email protected]. You may also send your questions to [email protected]. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)PHOTOS
















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