LEGENDARY actress Susan Roces (Jesusa Purificacion Levy Sonora-Poe) passed away on Friday, May 20. According to news reports, Susan died of cardiopulmonary arrest. She was 80 years old at the time of her death.
A statement released from the office of Senator Grace Poe, her daughter, read: “With great sadness, we announce the loss of our beloved Jesusa Sonora Poe, whom many of you know as Susan Roces. She passed away peacefully on a Friday evening, May 20, 2022, surrounded by love and warmth, with her daughter Grace, her nephews Joseph and Jeffrey and many of her family and close friends. She lived life fully and gracefully. Remember her in her beauty, warmth and kindess. She is now with the Lord and her beloved Ronnie — FPJ. We will miss her sorely but we celebrate a life well-lived. Susan Roces — daughter, mother, grandmother, a true Filipina and a national treasure.”
Susan, regarded as the “Queen of Philippine Movies” after a string of blockbuster hits, was last seen in the long-running TV series “FPJ’s Ang Probinsiyano” where she had a recurring role as Lola Flora, the titular character’s grandmother. She was last seen in the silver screen in 2003 in Erik Matti’s “Mano Po 2: My Home.”
In her illustrious career, Susan starred or participated in more than 130 films and countless TV appearances. She was twice named FAMAS Best Actress (1977’s Maligno and 1978’s Gumising ka…Maruja), among the five trophies she won from the award-giving body. Susan was also honored in 1959 with the Dr. Ciriaco Santiago Memorial Award, as well as Lifetime Achievement Awards from the FAP Awards (2003) and FAMAS (2017), in addition to a Cinema One Legend Award in 2009 and Outstanding Star of the Century in 2019 from the Star Awards for Movies.
According to a Manila Bulletin article, Roces was immediately offered a movie contract by Sampaguita Pictures founder Dr. Jose Perez, who reportedly saw her and was stunned by her mestiza features. Susan was in the Sampaguita compound hoping to get a glimpse of her favorite movie star, Gloria Romero. She was 15 at that time.
Years earlier, Susan started her acting career at age 10 in the movie “Mga Bituin ng Kinabukasan” from Nepomuceno Productions where she had a supporting role.
One other monicker that Susan was associated with was “The Face That Refreshes.” Her good looks and clean image made the actress/producer one of the most sought-after celebrity endorsers, featured in ads for products like Coca-Cola, Lavoris, Lawanit, U-TEX, Lux, Blend 45, RiteMed and Champion.
Susan was married to the acknowledged King of Philippine Movies, the late Fernando Poe Jr. (Ronald Allan Kelley Poe in real life). They wed on a Christmas Day at the Santuario de San Jose in Greenhills, San Juan where Susan was resplendent in a Pitoy Moreno wedding gown. Both actors had gotten married in civil rites in Bulacan on December 16, 1968. Both actors played each other’s love interest in a total of 17 movies.
In a PEP.ph interview in 2018, Susan Roces shared her secrets to beauty and health. “It’s accepted, lahat ng tao, tumatanda pero, siguro, salamat na lang sa Panginoon, at kung anong wrinkles meron ako ay happy wrinkles,” she said.
Aside from being careful with her health, she also knew the importance of getting enough sleep. “Maingat tayo na kung hindi naman kailangang magpuyat, importante rin ang pahinga,” she revealed.
As for her diet, she had this to say: “Like our diet, I don’t go for fad diets. I just taste. At my present age, I taste everything. I do not indulge… Puwede kang kumain ng kahit gaano karaming seafoods, pero alisin mo ang aligue ng alimango. Huwag mong kakainin yung ulo ng hipon. Huwag kong kakainin ang taba ng tiyan, ng bangus. Ang lechon, hindi na tayo natuto [sa] lechon…”
While many people associate Susan Roces with her movie/TV career and endorsements, they also see her as a proud and fierce supporter of her husband and adopted daughter, who both ran for President of the Philippines (FPJ in 2003, and Grace Poe in 2016).
In 2019, Grace Poe wrote a touching tribute to her mom Susan on Instagram: “Mom, thank you for the sleepless nights, the band-aids, the nourishing meals, the shoulder to lean on. You have shown me that the love of a mother — biological, foster or adoptive — is unconditional and beyond measure.”
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Talent manager Ogie Diaz revealed in a recent Philippine Star article that Liza Soberano is interested in pursuing a Hollywood career.
While Liza still has career opportunities in the Philippines, Ogie sees his ward wanting to go a different route.
“What I know right now is, Liza will be pursuing a different career. She still has a career here but she wants to get that opportunity in Hollywood,” he said.
“What’s important to Liza right now is her inner happiness, and that’s what I see with her – she is happy inside, that’s what’s important,” he added.
The talent manager also flagged down rumors that there’s anything romantic going on with Liza and James Reid as both were spotted at the first annual Gold Gala in Los Angeles.
“I believe that it is still them,” Ogie said, referring to reel and real life sweethearts Enrique Gil and Liza Soberano. “It just so happened that Quen had a family affair in Spain, and he has an ongoing tour there as well.”
“I believe that Liza and James Reid are just friends,” he added as clarification.