Nonoy can still ‘break a leg’
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - March 9, 2016 - 9:00am

Forty-two years after he lost a leg at a bombing incident, Dr. Nonoy Zuñiga can now talk about it without a lump in his throat.

As they would say before a show, break a leg, and Nonoy can, figuratively speaking, do it not with the wooden one but with the good one.

“Malayo sa vocal cords,” Nonoy told Funfare in good humor. “The tragedy affected me for a long while, but not my voice.”

During that politically turbulent period back then, Nonoy and the Family Birth Control (FBC) were at the Men’s Room preparing for their set at the Siete Pecados of Philippine Plaza (now Sofitel) on the night of Oct. 4, 1980, when a bomb exploded in their midst. When the commotion subsided, Nonoy was slumped on the floor with his right leg broken, so badly that it had to be amputated.

On Tuesday (March 15) and Wednesday (March 16), Nonoy and the FBC guys (Toots Almazan, Jiji Sanchez, Ferdy Flores, Peachy Murillo, Jess Balmaceda, Sammy Villarin, Gee Carlos, Danny Trias, Dex Ansay, Nilo Villanueva and Edwin Valente) will have their long-overdue reunion at RJ Bistro in Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati City. They will be billed as the Family Rebirth Control.

“All accounted for,” said Nonoy who, like the rest of the boys, grew up on Kamuning Road, Quezon City, the same place where Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno spent her early years. “Even if we parted ways and went our separate ways, we kept in touch until we decided to regroup.” (Trivia: Chief Justice Sereno was the schoolmate of singer-lawyer Dot Ramos Balasbas Gancayco, a contributor to this section, at the Kamuning Elementary School where Nonoy and his friends, and singer Lilet, also studied. Dot is running for representative of the Party List 113 Abiag in the May 9 elections. “Abiag means Mabuhay,” said Dot. “Our advocacy is agriculture.”)

Aside from the reunion concert, Nonoy is busy promoting his first (five-song) album for digital release on Spotify and iTunes anytime this month, consisting of three covers and two originals, one of them Sigaw ng Puso composed by Barney Borja and arranged by Ferdie Marquez. The single will be formally launched in Cebu City where the composer resides.

“Times have changed,” said Nonoy who is readily adapting to advances in technology. “Before, the best way to promote your album was on radio and TV. Now, you must have the right connections to do that, restrictive na ngayon. Before, puede ka mag-lagare, something which you can’t do now.”

The in-thing now is via social media.

“For P10, you can download a song already,” added Nonoy who has a Facebook account but no Twitter or Instagram. “They might not like all the five songs, so they can just choose which one they like. I’m also coming up with a self-titled album soon, composed of 10 songs, with a three-piece band as my back-up.”

On the day Funfare interviewed Nonoy, he was on his way to Puerto Princesa to perform at a show celebrating the International Women’s Day. Last month, he did a Valentine show with Marco Sison who is, like Nonoy, a US resident with their respective families. They come back for shows every now and then.

Asked what happened to the group Hitmakers (with Rico J. Puno, Rey Valera and Hajji Alejandro), Nonoy debunked the belief that they have broken up.

“We still perform together, sometimes just the three of us or the four of us. But it’s hard for the five of us to be together because iba-iba ang schedules namin. I have my own shows and they have their own, too.”

Has he set aside his “doctoring” (he finished Medicine at UST)?

Not at all.

Currently president of Natural & Organic Way, Nonoy has recently completed his diploma as Skin Care Specialist and he practices as such at Piel Skin Center in Makati City. Piel’s main clinic is at Elmhurst, New York City. Every time he’s here, Nonoy treats clients on an appointment basis. He’s also an Ambassador of Brain HQ (a brain exercise to improve memory, intelligence and navigation skills; and prevents Alzheimer’s Disease, clinically proven for ADHD, bipolar, etc.).

Life has been normal for Nonoy minus a part of him.

“It was painful at first,” admitted Nonoy. “I started questioning God, ‘Why did it have to happen to me?’ I prayed hard, nagdasal ako ng todo-todo. But afterwards, I learned to live with it. Support from my family and friends was very important. I have a little difficulty walking but otherwise, okay naman ako.”

For a long time, Nonoy kept that leg in a metal case inside the house until the maids got so uneasy so Nonoy agreed to have the case buried at the backyard.

“When Ondoy got Metro Manila flooded,” recalled Nonoy, “inanod ‘yung case. Good thing the maids were able to retrieve it. Lumangoy sila, hinabol nila.”

Tonight when he gets home, first thing Nonoy will do is remove that leg before he goes to bed and puts it back on next morning after taking a bath.

During his concert with the FBC at RJ Bistro, Nonoy will have that leg on, of course, and before they go onstage he will, like his band mates, “break a leg” with his good one.

(E-mail reactions at entphilstar@yahoo.com. You may also send your questions to askrickylo@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)

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