Rudy Fernandez passed away today, June 7, at his home in White Plains, Quezon City. He was in the company of family and close friends.
His two-year bout with cancer has finally ended and the 56-year-old actor is now in peace. His remains now lie in state at the Heritage Park memorial chapel, Taguig City. He is survived by wife Lorna Tolentino and their two sons Rafael and Renzo Marion; and by his son with Alma Moreno, Mark Anthony Fernandez.
Friends and family of Rudy will escort him to his final resting place—also in Heritage Park—on Independence Day, June 12. In accordance with Rudy's request, his wake is open to the public for those who wish to pay their final respects. He also wishes that white flowers be given to accompany him on his final journey.
Startalk, where Lorna is a regular co-host, aired an exclusive coverage dedicated to the wonderful memory left behind by one of the most respected actors both in and out of show business.
RUDY WANTED TO SPEAK. Startalk's Butch Francisco covered the wake at Heritage Park and interviewed one of Daboy's best friends, Sen. Bong Revilla. Bong, who looked solemn and composed, tried to keep it together as he talked about his longtime friend and their last few moments together.
"Around seven o' clock in the evening, tumawag sa akin si Senator Jinggoy [Estrada]. Sabi niya, ‘Pare, punta ka na dito, nag-drop yung kanyang [Rudy] blood pressure.' So, takbo kaagad ako sa bahay niya. Pagkakita ko kay Daboy, medyo nanghihina siya.
"‘Tapos sabi ni Jinggoy, ‘Pare, ‘eto na si Senator Bong. ‘Tapos idinilat niya yung mata niya. ‘Tapos noong pagkakita niya sa akin, parang ginanoon niya mata niya [idinilat]. ‘Tapos, pinipilit niyang magsalita. Sabi ko na, ‘Pare, huwag ka na magsalita. Dito lang kami. We're here para sa iyo, hindi kami aalis dito. Laban ka, laban ka,'" Bong recalled.
According to Bong, the ever-positive Rudy answered back, though weakly, a distinct "lalaban ako." As Bong related, Rudy was teary-eyed but he was still fighting.
"We stayed there until five o'clock in the morning," Bong added. "Sabi ng doctor, ‘Mukhang stable si Daboy, puwede na kayong magpahinga muna para relyebo kayo.' Umuwi ako sa bahay, magpapahinga ako. Pero pagdating na pagdating ko sa bahay, may na-receive na akong text na ‘Bumalik ka na dito.' ‘Tapos tumawag si Senator Jinggoy, so balik na ako doon."
Rudy was already gone by the time he arrived at 6:20 a.m. "Five minutes late ako," Bong said in a downcast voice. "Si Senator Jinggoy nandoon na, inabot niya pa. Sila yung nagsabi na, according to Senator Jinggoy, na binulungan niya na, ‘Pare, sige na, go ahead. Sige na, kami na bahala dito.' So after five minutes, naputulan na siya ng hininga."
DEFYING PROGNOSIS. Looking back on his experience with Daboy, Bong related how it affected him, from the days everything looked fine to the day he has to accompany his friend to his final resting place.
"Nasaksihan natin na since the beginning... Naglalaro kami ng badminton niyan, very healthy, talagang...he doesn't even smoke, doesn't drink. Napakaingat niyan sa katawan. Nilagnat lang ‘yan, e. Then after that, nagpa-check-up siya, siguro one week siya yata nilalagnat. Hindi alam kung trangkaso ba or what. Ayun pala, mayroon na siyang cancer. So yun, it turned out na yun nga, may cancer siya."
But Rudy defied his doctor's prediction that he would only have six months to live. Rudy said that he didn't believe his doctor, saying that he should change his doctor. The next doctor they went to gave the possibility that Rudy's cancer is curable. That gave Rudy hope.
Rudy persevered and surpassed his former doctor's prediction of six months. This year, however, Rudy's strength began to wane and it was now all up to the Almighty.
DABOY'S LAST WORD. Bong said that, according to those who were with Rudy in his final minutes, Rudy's blood pressure dropped to 60/40 in the final 30 minutes of his life. When this happened, everyone in the Fernandez household feared the worst.
"Nag-iyakan na sila," said Bong. "Hysterical na si LT, umiiyak siya na ‘Papa...papa...!' ganoon. ‘Tapos dumilat mata ni Daboy, ‘tapos sabi niya, ‘Mama...' ‘Tapos, yun yung huli niyang salita.
"Maganda na marinig din sa kanila [Lorna and the rest of the family], but makikita mo talaga yung pagmamahalan ng mag-asawa. Yung care sa bawat isa na ayaw iiwan ng...parang pelikula, e. And yung pagmamahal niya sa anak niya, makikita mo, e, kasi yung mga anak niya lagi nandoon every time na may dadalaw sa kanya."
MORE THAN BROTHERS. Senator Jinggoy Estrada, probably the closest friend of Daboy, was less composed than Bong when Startalk's Lolit Solis interviewed him by phone patch from the GMA-7 studio. The quavering voice of Jinggoy was a barely audible whisper as he recounted the final minutes of his dying friend.
"Tinawagan ako ni Lorna ng mga bandang five-thirty ng umaga," Jinggoy's croaking voice said. "Sabi niya na punta ako kaagad sa bahay. So, dumeretso na ako sa bahay nila sa White Plains. Buti naman at naabutan ko pa si Rudy na humihinga..."
Lolit asked if it was indeed Jinggoy who told Rudy that everything was going to be okay. Jinggoy confirmed this by saying, "Noong nakita ko yung monitor kasi, medyo flat line na. Tinanong ko ang doctor na ‘Bakit ganito?' Sabi niya sa akin, ‘Wala na.' Sabi ko kay Daboy, ‘Pare, pahinga ka na. Ako na ang bahala sa iyo at sa pamilya mo dito.' Yun lang yung sinabi ko sa kanya. "
Lolit observed how close Rudy and Jinggoy really were. They were more than brothers.
"Higit pa sa kapatid ang turingan namin ni Daboy," whimpered Jinggoy. "Twenty years ago, bagamat superstar siya noon at hanggang ngayon, he remained a humble person. Very down to earth. ‘Tsaka madali siyang pakisamahan."
Jinggoy then continued to relate how pivotal Rudy was in his life, especially if he was having problems, or whenever there arguments between him and Bong Revilla. Rudy was the peacemaker, Jinggoy said.
"Siya gumagawa ng paraan para magkaayos," Jinggoy sadly said. "Ayaw niya ng may away sa aming mga magkakabarkada."
Jinggoy's dad, former president Joseph Estrada, visited Rudy before, even if Erap himself could not bear to see Rudy suffer. Like Jinggoy, he was greatly affected.
"Mahal na mahal ni daddy si Rudy," Jinggoy said, giving way to tears. "Nung na-confine daddy ko sa Veterans, siya lang ang kaibigan ko na dumalaw sa akin araw-araw, gabi-gabi...nagdadala ng pagkain...hindi niya ako iniwanan. Noong bumaba kami sa Malacanang, siya po ang lagi naming kasama. Siya po ang laging sumusuporta sa amin. Hindi ko po makalimutan ang mga panahon na yun...na inalay po niya sa pamilya namin. Kaya mahal na mahal namin si Rudy..."
Now that Rudy is gone, will the bonds that the four of them shared continue? Will the remaining three friends—Jinggoy, Bong, and Phillip Salvador—act as fathers to the sons left behind by Rudy?
"Alam mo, sa pagiging tatay lang ng mga anak ni Rudy, e, walang problema yun," said the still quavering Jinggoy. "Nandito naman kaming tatlo. Alang-alang kay Rudy dahil napakasakit ng kanyang pagkawala."
What is his message to the grieving Lorna?"Tibayan niya ang kanyang loob," Jinggoy said. "Magpatatag siya. Sa mga anak naman niya na si Rafraf at si Renz, at si Mark, ay huwag nilang pabayaan si Lorna, lalo na ngayon na talagang napakasakit na mawalan ng mahal sa buhay. Ano man ang kailangan nila, dito lang kami...Handang handa kaming magbigay ng tulong hangga't kailangan nila kami."