The crowd hushed the minute Susan Roces emerged on stage.
Reciting a few lines from GMA-7's first Christmaserye, Sana Ngayong Pasko, the widow of the late Fernando Poe Jr. gave the press people a glimpse of her character Remedios.
It's her reunion with the drama genre after almost six years; her last project was the film Mano Po 2: My Home (2003).
But she has not lost her touch with acting. The Queen of Philippine Movies attacked the role with perceptible sensitivity and intensity.
Susan still has it all—the commanding presence and, obviously, the talent that she nurtured for more than five and a half decades.
When asked how she prepared for the role, she told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) that time and experience made the preparations easier.
"Marahil, kung ito ay inalok sa akin many, many years back, I'd say, 'Baka hindi ko magampanan. Pero dahil nanay na ako, lola pa ako, ganitong edad ko, nakaka-relate ako sa character. So, hindi mahirap na paghandaan," Susan said.
She clarified that she's not under contract with GMA-7. Prior to Sana Ngayong Pasko, she appeared in ABS-CBN's Maligno, a part of Susan Roces's collection, last year.
"In a way, I am Kapuso because of this project. On the other hand, for as long as there is a good project, why not...why not do it? Gusto kong magkaroon din ng pagkakataon na makasama, katulad ng nangyayari ngayon, ang mga artista ng GMA-7," was her brief explanation.
How is it working with the Kapuso stars so far?
Susan replied, "Itong mga taping na nagawa ko ay maganda, maayos, very cooperative lahat. Wala na akong mahihiling pa. There is much respect on the set, everybody is cooperative, wala na akong mahihiling pa."
HOW TO AGE GRACEFULLY. Aside from her talent, another hard-to-miss thing about this 68-year-old actress is her beauty. She blushed at our compliment, "Naku naman, maraming salamat..."
Then, she added, "Maraming salamat na you think of me as such. However, age has caught up with us."
Though most ladies now elude topics that pertain to their age, Susan is not diffident about it at all. She seems to have this "it's inevitable" outlook towards aging, and doesn't contest the natural course of life.
In a regal way, she stated, "We cannot fight it. Although I respect the new technology, however, it's not for me because I'm not resisting my aging. That's why I'm being cast in the role for, if I am younger, I would not fit in the role."
Doing this Christmaserye obviously gives her a high. She continued, "Somehow, I thank my wrinkles and my lines and my [eye]bags because I become credible for the role of Remedios."
And she has a very fuss-free beauty regimen, just two must-do's before she goes to sleep: (1) Malinis sa katawan (2) Tanggal ng makeup dahil hindi puwedeng nakababad ito sa mukha."
Lastly, we asked Susan about her Queen of Philippine Movies title, but before we could finish our question, she interjected, "Let me correct that, yung sinasabi nila, the title that they attribute to me, is just a sign of respect, it doesn't mean..." Then she laughed.
But who will likely become the next queen?
She chose not to drop any name. "Maraming salamat sa respeto. Tungkol doon sa tinatanong mo, it would be wrong for me to mention anybody because I have not been closely viewing all the works. Mali na magbigay ako ng opinion. Isa pa, hindi ko pa sila nakakatrabahong lahat. Pangalawa, yung mga ginawa naman nila, ang iba nakita ko na, ang iba hindi pa."
Our interview was brief but enlightening. And one good thing we learned from her: To age gracefully, you should treat and teach yourself beautifully.