The Queen of Philippine Movies, Susan Roces attended a low-key book launch at the Film Center of the University of the Philippines for one of her ardent admirers, the late UP professor Johven Velasco.
At the book launching held last Tuesday evening, September 1, Susan was all smiles at the open admiration of the professor that was narrated by his close friends.
Actress Jaclyn Jose, a close friend of the professor, said "Ang saya-saya ni Johven today dahil idol na idol niya si Tita Susan. Naku, Tita Susan kung alam niyo lang po, feeling niya siya po kayo. Ganoon niya ka-idol kayo, 'ako si Susan Roces.' Everytime na kasama siya, kwentuhan o kahit anong usapan lalo kung tungkol sa pelikula, wala siyang sasabihin kundi siya si Susan Roces. Basta siya si Susan Roces, wala ng iba. Walang artista para sa kanya na pinakamaganda at pinaka-hahangaan kundi si Susan Roces. Kaya tuwang-tuwa po yun ngayon at nandito po kayo."
Jaclyn also added that she misses the professor especially for the love he gave to each and everyone present that night.
"Hindi ka makakalimutan at lalong hindi ka kakalimutan dahil sa laking kontibusyon at laki ng pagmamahal na pinaramdam mo sa amin noong nabubuhay ka," she said heaving sighs to collect her thoughts and stopping short from crying.
A colleague in the film department, Ed Lejano said this about Johven, "In the course of our acquaintanceship, I would discover the many facets of his personality. Not only was he an esteemed member of the academe, but he was also a critic, theater artist, museum curator, screen writer, a PR writer, student, a mentor, a movie maker, a movie fan, a film lover, a lover of life, and posthumously, an author.
"In each of the many hats he wore, Johven showcased being a modern day Renaissance person, someone who led a life devoted to the arts and to everything that is beautiful and innocent that is personified by her idol, living screen legend, Ms Susan Roces."
Coco Martin was also there and told about his friendship about the late professor, "Naalala ko po noon nung nag-workshop kami, gustong-gusto niya po ako. Ako po yung pinakamaliit at pinaka-bata. Tapos, sabi niya na gustong-gusto niya yung mukha ko kasi parang nakikita niya daw sa akin si Ms. Susan Roces dahil ang amo-amo daw ng mukha ko noon. Siguro yun na din po yung dahilan kaya napalapit ang loob sa akin ni Nanay Johven noon."
Coco added that he is thankful for his friendship with the late professor, "Kung anuman ngayon yung mga tinatamasa ko, yung mga blessing ko, part po siya nito. Isa po siya yung naghubog sa akin at nagpalalim at nagpamulat sa katotohanan kung ano yung buhay ng trabahong pinasok ko."
Director Joel Lamangan read an excerpt from the book about Susan Roces titled "Susan Roces: A Very Special Participation."
Direk Joel, reading the words of professor Johven, said, "I was an avid "Susanian"--that was how a devoted fan of Susan Roces, local cinema's queen of the 1960s, was called. I liked her a lot because of her striking resemblance to my mother, and a lot of friends and relatives said that, then, I looked exactly like my mother."
THE QUEEN PAYS TRIBUTE. Ms Susan Roces gave some words regarding the book and about Johven.
"Isang malaking karangalan ang maging bahagi ng book launch na ito at pabalat pa man din. Tunay na nakaka-aliw. At parang nararamdaman ko na nandito si Johven at nakikihalakhak sa atin. It's nice to remember a person like him on his second death anniversary. Nakakapanghinayang na wala na siya," she said.
Susan recounted similarities she had with Johven of being a fan of movie stars.
"Katulad ni Johven ako din ay naging taga-hanga. Malaking bagay sa buhay ng isang tao na maranasan ng isang tao ang pag-hanga. Dahil sa paghanga ko kay Ms. Gloria Romero, talagang inasam-asam ko na makita siya. Ako'y nagtungo sa studio ng Sampaguita noong open day para sa mga fans.
"Dahil sa aking paghanga na iyon, at katulad ni Johven sa kanyang artikulong isinulat tungkol sa akin, madalas ako'y nagmumuni-muni at nangagarap na isusuot ko ang mga gown ni Gloria Romero. Ganoon din ang ayos. At kung minsan, Nida Blanca naman ako," which elicited laughter from the audience.
"Lahat ng pantasya at paghanga na iyon ay siyang nagbigay sa akin ng pagkakataon maging isang ng miyembro ng industriyang pelikulang Pilipino. Dahil habang ako'y humahanga at nakatitig kay Gloria Romero, ako naman pala ay pinagmamasdan ng mga mata ng aking naging producer, na si Dr. Jose Perez.
Susan thanked Johven for the article written about her, "Very interesting ang librong ito. I feel very much honored and it is heartwarming to hear words written about myself. Maraming salamat po sa inyo. Asahan po ninyo, hahanapin ko ang iba pang mga katha ni Johven."
She also promised, "Now that I'm retired from working in the movies, I hope in my small way I can be more active and would want to contribute whatever I can to the University of the Philippines Film Institute, whatever I can do for the University, for the faculty and students, the children of those who have come to watch my movies."
Ms. Susan Roces was accompanied by daughter Grace Poe who read an excerpt from the book. Also, present that night were professor Tony Mabesa, director Maryo J. Delos Reyes, UP College of Mass Communication dean Roland Tolentino, PETA director CB Garrucho and very close friend director Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil who supervised the book as well as the book launch.
Peformers from PETA did two song numbers, from their plays Batang Rizal and Mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang.
Earnings from the book will go the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care (ECPPC) of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) where Rudy Diamante, another close friend of the late author, heads as Executive Secretary.