Action superstar Rudy Fernandez is no novice when it comes to big celebrations prepared especially for him. But two years since he was diagnosed with cancer, every birthday becomes more meaningful; much more, a testament of Rudy's strong determination to overcome the odds.
Turning a year older, Rudy announced once more that he's here to stay for his family, friends, supporters, and the movie industry that he loves wholeheartedly.
If last year was a modest surprise affair, his 56th birthday party held last night, March 3, at the William J. Shaw Pavilion of the Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club in Mandaluyong City was one huge gathering that assembled all of Rudy's close relations and friends in various fields.
Looking fit and still very handsome, Rudy was obviously overwhelmed by the turnout of guests that continued to arrive until the wee hours of the morning. Joining Rudy, of course, was his lovely wife Lorna Tolentino and their children Ralph and Renz. Even Mark Anthony Fernandez, Rudy's son with former actress Alma Moreno, was present and stayed late.
Last year, a determined yet emotional Rudy told his guests, "I ain't gonna die yet!" This time, the respected action star did a mellower battlecry: "More birthdays to come."
CELEBRATION OF LIFE. "Every birthday ko very meaningful," reflected Rudy, "kaya ‘yon ang wish ko, another birthday or more birthdays to come."
Although the discomforts brought by the disease are still there, he happily announced that he's been feeling upbeat the past few days. "Most of the time okay naman," he assured everyone with a smile.
Some of the early well-wishers were newly appointed president of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Network Charo Santos-Concio, Donita Rose with husband Eric Villarama, Bayani Agbayani and wife Lenlen, singer Jamie Rivera, veteran actress Gloria Romero, Johnny Delgado, Tirso Cruz III, Senator Loi Ejercito, Amy Austria, former MTRCB Chairman Armida Siguion-Reyna, Fanny Serrano, and a whole lot of others.
Proving that they had indeed put their political differences aside, Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla arrived together in a show of solidarity for good friend Daboy. GMA-7 executives Wilma Galvante and Redgie Magno-Acuña were also spotted by PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal).
As the night deepened, other friends of Rudy started arriving led by Phillip Salvador, Jestoni Alarcon, Ai-Ai delas Alas, Gina Alajar, Annabelle Rama with husband Eddie Gutierrez, Gretchen Barretto, Pops Fernandez, Willie Revillame, Joyce Jimenez, Regine Velasquez, Ruffa Gutierrez, Ara Mina, Megastar Sharon Cuneta, and former president Joseph "Erap" Estrada. Sexy comedienne Rufa Mae Quinto arrived past midnight.
Sharing Rudy's happiness was, of course, his beauteous wife Lorna Tolentino. When Rudy and his family were presented on stage after the candle blowing, program host Tirso Cruz III revealed that Lorna and Rudy are due to celebrate their 26th wedding anniversary this coming June. The couple tenderly kissed, to the cheers of everyone who filled the airy ballroom.
"Salamat sa aking mga kaibigan, mga nagmamahal, sa aking asawa si Lorna, thank you sa inyong lahat," said Rudy.
"Tinatanong sa akin kung anong wish ko. Sabi ko, more birthdays to come. May sumagot naman ‘many more and many more birthdays to come.' Sabi ko, kahit na few birthdays to come, okay na rin sa kin ‘yon."
With his typical fighting spirit, Rudy excitedly said: "I'll see you again next year, same time... I'm sure magkikita pa rin tayo."
Repeating the line he mentioned last year, Rudy punctuated his speech with the promise, "Hang on ha, huwag kayong malulungkot, I'm not going to die."