The joys of being Gloria Romero

KAPUSO DAY - Angel Javier Cruz - The Philippine Star

At 82, iconic movie queen Gloria Romero still has the enthusiasm to stand under the spotlight.

“I think that’s the only thing at my age,” she reflects. “I’m trying to still work and I love it. Lalo na ngayon, marami na naman akong nakikilalang bagong artista. I think that’s what makes me happy. I enjoy working.”

It comes as no surprise that the veteran actress is still as elegant as she was in the Golden Era. She reveals the secret to her timeless beauty: Proper sleep. “I sleep a lot,” she laughs. “I go to bed eight hours every night if there’s no work. And the next day, if you have work, the night before bumabawi ako.” She’s also used the same make-up brand for the past 65 years.

On her days away from the spotlight, she dabbles in one of two things: Cleaning out her closet or spending time with loved ones. “Yung mga aparador ko na hindi ko nakikita for a long time, nilalabas ko lahat yung laman, aayusin ko lahat ‘yan,” she shares. Gloria says she enjoys finding long-lost trinkets here and there.

Her off-duty habits highlight quality time with family. “We go out, kuwento-kuwento kami sa gabi, magkukumpol-kumpol.” But what happens on set, stays on set, she adds. “Usually I don’t tell much of what is happening on set. Hindi ko inuuwi, I don’t like,” she shakes her head. The moment she steps into her house, she becomes Gloria Gutierrez, mother and grandmother, not Gloria Romero, movie queen.

“I only have one daughter and one grandson,” she talks about Maritess, her lone daughter with late actor Juancho Gutierrez, and her grandson Christopher. “As a mother, marami akong pagkukulang na hindi ko nagawa masyado because I was busy,” she recalls her heyday as one of the superstars of Philippine cinema. “But when it comes to the school activities of my child, I was always present.”

Family is top priority for the iconic actress. “After God, they come in next because we can’t make nothing and anything in this world without God. My family is my most important treasure really. And my No. 3 is my career.”

At her age, the veteran actress holds no regrets. “I cannot look back and say, ‘Sayang, hindi ko ginawa ito, ginawa ‘yan.’ I didn’t expect na hahaba ang buhay ko nang ganito. I thank the Lord.”

If there’s one thing she misses doing, it’s traveling. “I don’t get to traveI, I have vertigo,” she reveals. Gloria did a fair amount of traveling back in the day, even going so far as to personally meet Hollywood actresses Ava Gardner, Debbie Reynolds and Glenn Ford.

“I really love to travel but I’m afraid of riding on planes. Baka mag-faint ako doon. But the good thing is, I was able to do those things in my younger days.”

Family is top priority: Gloria with daughter Maritess and grandson Christopher

Her six-decade-strong career bears witness to her zest for the things she’s passionate about. She strongly recommends letting go of stress. “Pag meron kang problema, ask God to help you, wala namang ibang makakatulong sa’yo eh,” she counsels. “One more thing is, be open with your family.”

“The most important thing is to pursue whatever you want to do in life and don’t give up,” she adds, sharing her own advice to the new generation of stars. “Try and try, as they say, until you succeed. And have patience. Here in (showbiz), you need patience. We are being paid to wait. Minsan tatawagin ka nang seven in the morning, makukuhanan ka hapon pa. But it’s okay, that’s your job. Be professional.”

She segues into her humble beginnings in the industry. “My first dialogue sa isang pelikula, ‘Thank you, Doctor.’ Mine-morize ko ‘yun tatlong gabi,” she recalls, laughing. “Baka kasi magkamali. Biro mo naman, yung ka-eksena ko si Pancho Magalona, the king of the movies.”

There’s always a beginning to every success. “As I say, work hard. If you really love what you’re doing, strive. Pursue your dreams, and be patient because not everything will be given to you. Sa pag-aartista, you have to pass through many people, you can’t do it yourself.”

Her well-chosen words for the young ones: “Always be thankful to those who have helped you along the way. ‘Wag kayong susupla-suplado, hindi maganda ‘yan. Be humble.”

“But you know kung sino dapat mahalin ng mga artista?” she asks. “The crew! They are hardworking. They come early in the morning, they leave late. Tulog na kaming lahat, sila nag-eempake pa.”

It is perhaps this sense of gratitude that keeps her grounded despite her decorated acting career. Sixty-seven years in the industry, and the multi-awarded actress still looks forward to facing the camera. Her newest project: GMA’s primetime offering Juan Happy Love Story, a sexy and naughty romantic-comedy series starring Dennis Trillo and Heart Evangelista-Escudero. In the show, Tita Glo plays loving grandmother Lola Mameng.

The veteran actress has stayed with GMA for half a decade, starting with the Maryo J. delos Reyes-helmed series Munting Heredera in 2011.

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