Basyang role not new to Luz

Tet Defensor - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Veteran actress and radio talent Luz Fernandez is every inch a loyal employee. For 64 years, she has been reporting to work at Manila Broadcasting Company, lending her voice to the different characters in the station’s daily radio dramas.

“Sixty-four years and I never changed radio stations,” the actress articulated in a full and resonating voice. For the exceptionally talented, age is just a number. 

Luz remains lean and energetic at 80, making her one of the most sought-after artists to portray villain roles. “Pang mga salbaheng role ako, yung palengkera, nang-aaway, laging ganun, o kaya witch, pang horror. I’m in-demand during Halloween,” she joked.

Her memory is still sharp as ever recalling the days when she commuted from Marikina to the MBC studios at Plaza Cervantes in Binondo. She did as many as 30 different dramas a week, “the pay is minimal, but it’s my passion, radio (acting) is my first love. As long as I live I will stay here.”

Aside from radio, Luz is well-loved by TV and movie production outfits. Most memorable were her roles as Lola Torya, the old lady who reads stories from a big book in the series in Ora Engkanta and the villain Luka Reyna ng Kadiliman in Okay Ka Fairy Ko.

Back in her younger days, Luz was also very active in theater. “I did all 13 plays of Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero,” she shared, instantly reciting lines from the play Deep In My Heart.

A true artist who values her craft, Luz never turned down acting assignments, unless it comes in conflict with a previous commitment. “I always do my best in every project being offered to me.”

A couple of months ago, she accepted a project that lasted till the early morning of her 80th birthday. She only had a few hours of rest before the evening’s celebration. Her children cannot help but frown at the thought, but when it comes to their mother’s work, they are powerless.

Lately, however, Luz has been begging off from physically taxing assignments. And while she enjoyed being part of the series Forevermore, the cold weather in Baguio and the long shooting hours affected her health. “Hindi sa ayaw kong magtrabaho, I just don’t want to get sick and become a burden to my family,” she said.

As the family breadwinner and a single parent, Luz knows the value of hard work. “Maagang nabiyuda ang mother ko, my father was a member of Manila City police. I had only finished high school because I worked right away to support my siblings’ education. I stood as the ‘father’ of three generations — first, to my brothers and sisters when my father died; second, to my three children, when I became a single mother and now, to my wonderful grandkids.”

Luz plays Lola Basyang in the Ballet Manila’s Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang, three captivating dance productions of love, fantasy and adventure tomorrow, Aug. 28 and on Aug. 29, 8 p.m., and on Aug. 30, 3 p.m. at the Aliw Theater.

“It was in the ’50s when I first became part of the cast of Lola Basyang on radio. We dramatized different stories during that time. And the response from the young listeners was overwhelming,” Luz said.

Back then, she enjoyed capping each story with a short lesson on values. “Pinakagusto ko talaga ay yung pagkakataon mangaral sa mga bata, na ipaalala sa kanila ‘yung mga Filipino values na nakalimutan nila.

Severino Reyes’ Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang marks Ballet Manila’s 20th performance season. Tickets are available at Ticketworld outlets (891-9999) and Ballet Manila marketing department (552-7502). For details, log on to www.ticketworld.com.ph.

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