From Twofus to Oneofus

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star
From Twofus to Oneofus
Jojit Paredes (left) and Ronnie Henares as the duo Twofus then and now: More like brothers, their friendship is deeply rooted in their childhood and has endured through the years across thousands of miles

“It was so unexpected.”

Ronnie Henares heard the sad news about Jojit Paredes’ passing in Los Angeles very early Tuesday morning, Sept. 24 (Manila Time), due to massive stroke. He was 69.

“This month last year,” added Ronnie, Jojit’s partner in the popular ‘70s duo Twofus, “Jojit came for a long-delayed homecoming and we had a reunion concert at Solaire. I didn’t know that would be our last time together.”

Added Ida Henares, Ronnie’s wife who produced the reunion concert, “Jojit was extremely happy with the reunion show. It was God’s gift to him. It was his heart’s desire to perform again in the Philippines and to be with his friends, classmates, family and fans who all came to celebrate with him and Ronnie.”

Jojit in the early ’70s when he starred with Gina Alajar in Sampaguita Pictures’ Cofradia

From Twofus (Two Of Us), there’s now only Oneofus (One Of Us). The friendship of Ronnie and Jojit is deeply rooted in their childhood and has endured through the years across thousands of miles. They kept in touch even after Jojit migrated to the States in 1985.

It was also this time last year when Jojit and Ronnie sat for an exclusive interview with The STAR. It was Jojit’s last interview, portions of which are generously excerpted here.

“The Paredes Family lived in a compound next to ours in Pasay City,” recalled Ronnie, eldest of six children (three boys and three girls). “As a kid, Jojit would sit on top of the fence that divided the two compounds and would hit me with the paper bullets of his slingshot. Ginagawa niya akong parang dart board, hahaha! So we were really not friends yet when we were kids.”

“But soon, as we became teenagers,” Jojit, eldest of four all-girl siblings, “Ron and I became friends. I would jump over the fence into the Henares Compound to play basketball with Ron at the court in their driveway. Before long, I became known as the other Henares boy.”

They were such bosom buddies, so close like brothers, that when they started courting girls, they observed a pact — “Some kind of a code of ethics,” according to Jojit — that if they fancied the same girl, the other would give way to the first who expressed an “interest.” Jojit preferred demure girls (“De-mure, the better,” he quipped with a laugh, confessing, “I had a terrible crush on Alma Moreno, Lorna Tolentino, Marian dela Riva and Hilda Koronel”) and Ronnie, “Ladies who looked like ladies but deep inside may fire.”

They both courted Vilma Santos (during her post-Edgar Mortiz period), one after the other, of course. After Jojit, related Ronnie, “I asked him, ‘Pare, puede na ba ako pumasok dyan?’ I was asking for a ‘right of way,’ you know.”

Imagine what happened one day when Ronnie went to fetch Vilma at home (in Dasma, a few minutes drive from where the Henareses lived). He was gentleman enough to call Vilma and ask permission to drive her to a shoot.

“I am talking about this for the first time,” swore Ronnie. “It was my first time to visit Vilma. I pressed the doorbell and waited in my car outside. Guess who would arrive after several minutes...Jojit! Since he was already close to Vilma, he went inside her house. After a while, he and Vilma drove off, leaving me in my car. A few years ago, I asked Jojit how it happened para may closure,” Ronnie added laughing. “He said, ‘I don’t remember!,’ hahaha!!!”

They were schoolmates at La Salle from grade school, together with APO Jim Paredes as their co-vocalist in a high school band called Les Violents formed by the Paredes cousins to compete in Battle of the Bands sponsored by the De La Salle High School, bagging the second prize. (According to Jojit, his Lolo Jesus Paredes and Jim’s Lolo Jose Paredes were brothers.)

Said Jojit, “The band was the start of my musical partnership with Ron. We were invited to perform at all sorts of parties and gatherings. It was fun!”

One of those gatherings was a weekend at the Laurel beach house in Matabungkay, Batangas, upon the invitation of Lynnie Laurel. In the midst of the merriment, Ronnie and Jojit grabbed their acoustic guitars and started singing for the guests who were impressed by their harmonious vocal blending.

Soon, the Twofus was born. They became part of the TV show D’Sensations hosted by Vilma Santos and Edgar Mortiz. Jojit starred in some movies, Tok Tok Palatok, Fantastica vs Wonderwoman (with Pinky Montilla) and Sampaguita Pictures’ Cofradia with Gina Alajar who was being groomed as Jojit’s love teammate.

Into their second marriages, Ronnie has two children ages 38 and 35 with first wife Merce Catibayan (now living in the States with her new family). Jojit had only one child, a 38-year-old lawyer who lives in Canada, with his first (Filipina) wife and none with his second (American) wife. Ronnie has quit managing artists and is having a high as a TV comedian (GMA sitcom Pepito Manaloto, etc.).

Their friendship has endured, surviving thousands of miles between them. Thanks to social media, they have kept in touch.

“When I go to the States,” said Ronnie, “I would invite Jojit out but he would rather stay in my hotel room and we would jam the whole afternoon. That’s how much he misses singing and performing. We would play the guitar the whole time and never get tired.”

Said Jojit, “I would come to visit but this is the first time I’m here for a concert.” (Their first concert as Twofus was at the Tavern on the Square, produced by Ida.)

Said Ronnie, “In 2007, we did a concert, Twofus the Reunion, in California. I told Jojit, ‘Next time, ako naman back home’.”

 “It will be a nostalgic show,” promised Ronnie. “Our repertoire includes our own songs and those of the ‘70s like Chad & Jeremy, Cascades, Lettermen and others of that era. We just love the Cascades songs.”

A part of the Cascades song There’s a Reason should serve as a fitting farewell to Jojit:

There’s a reason for a snowfall

A reason why a tree is tall

A reason why a star is bright

A reason why the moon glows

A reason why the wind blows

A reason why it’s dark at night

But I don’t know why I should cry

Just because you said goodbye

There must be a reason

I like to know why

Oh why, oh I like to know…

Postscript from Ronnie: Jojit’s remains will be cremated and his ashes will be brought back here by his two sisters abroad to have a one-day celebration of life before laying him to rest beside their mother.

(E-mail reactions at [email protected]. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)


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