Big names in showbiz, and even in the political arena, spent their last night with Action Prince Rudy Fernandez at the chapel of Heritage Park in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, on June 11, 2008.
It started with a 5:00 p.m. mass officiated by Fr. Arthur Yap, followed by the necrological service—with Pastor Ed Lapiz giving the special message. The gathering, which was exclusive to family and friends after the first mass, culminated in a program that featured the songs relevant to Daboy and speeches from the people who figured prominently in his life.
THE SPEECHES. The room overflowed with gratitude and good words for Daboy. The first to share her fondest memories about Rudy was his sister Marie Fernandez.
She recalled the five-year-old Rudy who lost his mama at that early age, the struggling actor who was supporting his ailing father—Dr. Gregorio Fernandez—and the famous action star who always made an effort to extend help to his siblings. “Wala po akong hiningi kay Rudy na hindi niya binigay,” said Marie tearfully.
His bosom friends—Senator Jinggoy Estrada, Senator Bong Revilla, Phillip Salvador—including Daboy’s “tanging babaeng best friend sa showbiz” Sharon Cuneta and his feisty talent manager Lolit Solis all talked about Rudy being a good friend and a “peacemaker.”
Sharon cried buckets of tears for her leading man in Kung Kailangan Mo Ako. “Bakit si Daboy pa?” she asked upon learning about her friend’s death. “Maraming masasamang tao sa mundo, bakit siya pa?”
She also recalled how her friendship with Jinggoy was revived because of Daboy’s help. She ended her message with a promise that she’ll be there for Daboy’s family whenever they need help. "Ate [Lorna], tawag ka lang ha."
Lolit’s anecdote elicited chuckles from the crowd. “Isa ako sa mga publicists ni Alma Moreno no’n. Nung nanliligaw si Rudy sa kanya, natural, kinaibigan din ako ni Rudy,” her story began. “Nung naghiwalay sila, lahat ng babaeng na-link ke Rudy, siniraan ko.” And this included Lorna Tolentino. The TV host-columnist went on to recount how her ward became responsible for the beautiful friendship she has now with Lorna. In fact, Manay Lolit also manages the career of Daboy's wife.
Bong was on the verge of tears when he narrated how his rift with Jinggoy and former President Joseph Estrada ended because of Rudy’s efforts. He used the word “peacemaker” to describe his kumpadre. “Ating bigyan ng masigabong palakpakan ang isang taong matulungin, maaasahan, at isang tunay na kaibigan.”
Phillip looked back at the term of Rudy as the president of KAPP (Kapisanan ng mga Artista ng Pelikulang Pilipino). “Siya yung Pangulo, at ako naman po ang nagsilbing pangalawang pangulo niya.” He was all-praises to Rudy’s dedication as a leader. And when it came to describing the Action Prince as friend: “Walang sapat na salita upang mailarawan ko ang isang Rudy Fernandez.”
Jinggoy became emotional when he remembered those times he was detained at the Veteran’s Hospital with his father. Almost everyday, Rudy would pay him a visit and bring “siopao, siomai, at mga pagkain.” When he started gaining weight, his kumpadre brought him boxing gloves, a punching bag, and even an instructor.
He also admitted that Rudy was his confidante. “Bakit mo ‘ko iniwan? Sino’ng pagsasabihan ko ng mga sikreto ko? Delikado kasi ako dito sa dalawa [referring to Bong and Phillip].’ The room roared with laughter.
He continued, “Pare, kung bibisitahin mo ako, okay lang, pero huwag ka nang magsama ng iba ha. Kung puwede, mag-text ka muna pa rin hindi naman ako magulat.”
Towards the end of his speech, he asked everyone to give Lorna Tolentino a standing ovation for being a good wife to his best friend.
THE SONGS. Concert Queen Pops Fernandez and singer-songwriter Ogie Alcasid were the first to render a song for Rudy. They performed Josh Groban’s “You Raised Me Up.”
“Seasons of Love,” one of Daboy’s favorite songs was sang by The Company. A member of the press commented that the song mirrored Rudy’s outlook in life: “525,600 minutes, 525,600 moments so dear/ 525,600 minutes—how do you measure, measure a year?/ In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee./ In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife/ In 525,600 minutes—how do you measure a year in the life?/ How about love? How about love? How about love?/ Measure in love. Seasons of love.”
Tirso Cruz III let the audience hear the song he composed for Rudy. He said the lyrics echo the thoughts of Rudy about his family and friends. He had everyone close to tears.
Jamie Rivera rendered "In My Life," a Beatles original, while Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez gave her heartfelt rendition of Barbra Streisand’s “Somewhere,” the theme song of the first Rudy-Lorna movie.
Heart-rending, gratifying, and touching are the words to describe the evening.
The widow of Rudy was very composed while listening to the songs and speeches of her husband’s friends. In her message, she revealed how she endured her moments of sadness: “Alam ko, ramdam ko, hawak mo ako ngayon.”
Today, Rudy will finally be laid to rest. And he will go with immeasurable love from his family, a great degree of admiration from his friends, and countless thanks from the fans and people in show business.
Indeed, Lorna was right—Daboy’s life was “well-lived and well-ended.”