Susan Roces on ‘urban legends’ concerning Grace Poe

WILL SOON FLOURISH - Wilson Lee Flores (The Philippine Star) - August 22, 2015 - 10:00am

At the Aug. 18 “Tapatan with Ms. Susan Roces” luncheon at EDSA Shangri-la Hotel, where the movie queen signed a contract renewing her Champion detergent celebrity endorsement agreement for the ninth year, the media reported her emotional and angry defense of her daughter, Senator Grace Poe’s, Filipino citizenship and residency status. Roces derided critics for “bullying” and spreading lies about her daughter.

Poe’s family believes a black propaganda campaign is now being orchestrated by her potential political foes in the 2016 election. After the press conference and contract signing, I was invited onstage to have an exclusive interview with Susan Roces. Here are excerpts of our no-holds-barred “tapatan.”

PHILIPPINE STAR: One of the attacks by your daughter Senator Grace Poe’s political rivals suggests that she once abandoned her Filipino citizenship to become an American citizen, insinuating that she prefers to be a US citizen. What is the truth about her going to the United States? How did you feel about your only child going there?

SUSAN ROCES: Grace went to the US initially when she pursued her political science degree at Boston College. Of course, as a parent, I at first experienced separation anxiety, but Ronnie and I, we understood that, in a way, Grace wanted her own independence, too. With both of us having our movie careers, we all live a very public life and our privacy is often intruded upon. Grace wanted a normal life. She wanted her own personal and family life, not always living under the shadows of her showbiz parents, not a life always under the limelight.

There is another story which has been going around and even told to me by top national politicians claiming that your younger sister, actress Rosemarie Sonora, and the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos are the real parents of Grace Poe. Your reactions to this?

Oh now, we just take it as an urban legend.

When did you first hear this urban legend?

Nagpasalin-salin na ‘yan (It has been passed on and on). How can you explain to people that there’s absolutely no truth to that story?

I heard that DILG Secretary announced his presidential candidacy just before the start of the Chinese folk belief of “Ghost Month.” Is it true that Senator Grace Poe will declare her presidential bid in September after “Ghost Month” as well?

(Laughs) Your guess is as good as mine... Whether in public service or in private life, whatever Grace wants to do to help the people, I will always be there to fully support her. When my daughter first ran for the Senate, I helped in some ways. I believe in her character, her advocacies.

Senator Grace Poe gained much respect for her katapatan or honesty even over controversial issues like the Purisima/PNP case, Mamasapano, her advocacy of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, etc. even if her views were not the same as those of our government leaders, how did you and your late husband Fernando Poe, Jr. teach her?

Well, we always teach the younger generation in our family that honesty is very important, that honesty is the best policy. Hopefully we can have more emphasis on this in our schools. I believe katapatan is very important for our lives, for every individual. We need to be tapat (honest) as a mother or father, we should be tapat to our spouse, to our children. Leaders should be honest to us, the citizenry whom they serve; people at work should be honest to their colleagues. People in mass media need to be honest to us readers of newspapers, viewers of TV news or listeners of radio shows, because we know if your tapat or not.

With the rise of the social media phenomenon, how do you think this has affected the moral values and the sense of katapatan of the so-called millenial generation?

I think the younger generation are tapat, I value their being honest, even if minsan masakit aminin (even if sometimes it hurts to admit the truth). It’s hard to lie now, because with just a click on the Internet, all the data will come out. I just turned 74 years old and I’m proud of it, I’ve experienced and observed various generations, I value the youth of today and their honesty.

So you believe that even with complaints about the supposed erosion of traditional moral values in today’s modern world, honesty as a virtue is still upheld by our youth?

Yes, I still believe that honesty as a moral value is upheld by our Filipino youth. Honesty is constant, but the challenge is how to gauge honesty especially in our modern world where many people now do not have the luxury of time, because of the fast-paced lifestyle of this Internet generation... Maybe this was how honesty was also upheld during the time of Jesus, the same with how most of us cherish honesty now...

I really appreciate the present generation, they will express in social media if they believe (something is) pangit (ugly or awful), they will just say it: “Pangit.” If they think nagparetoke (someone had cosmetic enhancement), they will say “Nagparetoke.” Young people are honest.

By the way, do you have Instagram, Twitter or Facebook accounts like many of us do?

Susan Roces, little Grace Poe and Fernando Poe, Jr.

(Laughs) On those things, medyo laid-back (I’m a bit laid-back). I have cell phones, but I depend mostly on my pamangkin (nephew) and some friends due to lack of time... I still keep in touch (on social media), like recently I did a Facebook chat through my friend Baby Jimenez. The good thing about modern technology is we can now be in many places at the same time, unlike before.

What are your success secrets? Why, after all these decades, are you still in demand as a celebrity endorser and as actress? What were your earliest endorsements?

(Laughs) Wilson, you do your own accounting na lang of my years in showbiz. Seriously, I’ve been an actress since June 1956 with Sampaguita Pictures. I was asked then to endorse products like Lux, Kodak, Blend 45 coffee, etc. I’m still at it now and I’m grateful for the opportunities and I only endorse products and companies which I believe in for their katapatan (honesty) to us, the consumers. On how I’ve continued all these years in my profession, well, to put it in one word, “passion.” I just love being in cinema.

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Thanks for your feedback! Email willsoonflourish@gmail.com or follow WilsonLeeFlores on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and http://willsoonflourish.blogspot.com/

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