The Manila Times

Coco’s ‘pamana’ from Susan Roces

Magtanong...” “Wag mahihiyang

“Ang sabi ng lola ko, ‘wag mahihiyang magtanong…”

STOP any Filipino on the street and say the words, “Pag kailangan ng gamot,” ten to one — no matter the age — that person will burst out singing,

[All together now] “Kung may RiteMed ba nito? May RiteMed ba nito?”

Lyrics to the jingle of the country’s most affordable pharmaceutical line, the catchy ditty is very much ingrained in local pop culture and permanently so with its original singer — the late but forever beloved Queen of Philippine Movies, Ms. Susan Roces.

The beautiful, talented and famously kind-hearted Tita Susan quietly passed on last year on May 20 at age 80. Spared from a lingering illness, she succumbed to cardiac arrest only a day after being hospitalized for chest pain and difficulty breathing. Wife of the late and legendary Fernando Poe. Jr. — the king to her queen — she is survived by her daughter Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares, and her brood in real life.

In show business and more so in the eyes of the public, Tita Susan is also survived by the day’s reigning King of Philippine Prime Time TV, Coco Martin. To him, her loss is as heartbreaking as real life, tightly bonded as Cardo and Lola Flor on and off-cam, thanks to the longest-running series on TV, “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano.”

Perpetually humble despite all his success — a significant part perhaps owed to “Lola Flor’s” wisdom and guidance — Coco will never assume he has the right to any legacy Tita Susan had built and left behind, despite their closeness.

Case in point, on a very special day last Monday, Coco, still mourning Ms. Susan’s death, recalled how he — just like every motorist or passenger whizzing by the Quiapo area — wondered in longing whose face would eventually replace the veteran actress’ picture with the famous RiteMed checkmark on the billboard that seemed to be hers forever.

“Palaisipan sa akin kung sino ba ang papalit sa kanya? Kasi mahirap siyang palitan. Wala akong maisip, wala akong idea kasi nag-iisa talaga siya, eh. Parang siya lang ang puwedeng magsabi, ‘Gagaling ka, giginhawa ka,’ na maniniwala ka sa sasabihin niya,” he recalled.

The story explained why a somewhat emotional and jittery-looking Coco Martin walked through the doors of Luxent’s ballroom before his speech, where the entire team of RiteMed executives waited to welcome him. That Monday, he was officially named Tita Susan’s successor for the brand and advocacy she dearly loved.

Coco clarified, however, that he cannot regard himself as a successor but as someone who has been fortunate enough to be part of Tita Susan’s life and deeply honored with the task of carrying on her devotion to empowering quality and affordable healthcare for the masses.

“Alam naman natin kung gaano kabigat ang responsibilidad na aking kakaharapin. Siyempre po dahil ito sa aking lola, kay Tita Susan. Alam naman natin kung gaano nire-respeto at minamahal ng lahat ng Pilipino si Ms. Susan Roces. Kaya nakakatakot kasi isang napakalaking obligasyon ito para sa akin,” Coco confided in the audience.

Involving Ms. Susan in every way he considers and approaches the ambassadorship, he always keeps in mind that the revered actress would never endorse any product or line she did not trust.

“Alam [ni Ms. Susan] ‘yung responsibilidad niya sa mga Pilipino. Kaya ngayon, bawat galaw ko pinag-iisipan ko talaga na ayokong makasira sa napakagandang reputasyon na iniwan ni Tita Susan.”

Valuing the RiteMed endorsement not as a project but as a challenging and meaningful “pamana” from Ms. Susan, Coco added, “Hindi ako nangangako, pero gagawin ko ang lahat para maitama ko ang sarili ko at maging karapat-dapat sa pagtitiwala niyo sa akin.”

Such then goes RiteMed’s new TVC and, eventually, an adjustment to Ms. Susan Roces and RiteMed’s contribution to pop culture, courtesy of this generation’s hero of the masses, Coco Martin:

Entertainment & Lifestyle




The Manila Times