"They still grieve his death."
With just 35 days to go before Christmas, Filipinos are gearing up to celebrate the coming holidays with colorful Yuletide decor, happy family reunions, cordial gift-giving and much merrymaking and good cheer. In fact, the Christmas season starts early in this country, with Christmas carols already being aired as early as the first week of September.
For the family, friends, fans and supporters of the departed Fernando Poe Jr., more commonly known as FPJ, the acknowledged King of Philippine Movies, this will be a time of reflection and prayer, and without a doubt, no small measure of yearning for the happy times in years past.
Next month, on December 14, which falls on a Saturday, they will mark the 15th death anniversary of FPJ, who died from heart failure in 2014 at age 65 at St. Luke's Medical Center in Quezon City.
On this day, his loved ones and supporters will gather at the Manila North Cemetery to remember the life and times of their idol whom they fondly call Da King. They will pay tribute to his kindness and generosity, and his love for the downtrodden and the oppressed.
FPJ's family as well as his fans and supporters have every reason to grieve over his untimely death. Many feel that his passing had been the inevitable outcome of emotional distress over the alleged rigging of the 2004 election in favor of his political opponent, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who even apologized on nationwide television for calling an official of the Commission on Elections to inquire whether he had acceded to her request to ensure a lead of a million votes for her.
To this day, his family and supporters feel there's been no justice for FPJ, that's why they still grieve over his death.
It cannot be denied that FPJ is part of the lives of millions of Filipinos. In all his films, FPJ epitomized an indomitable spirit, and inspired Filipinos to always stand for what is right and what is just. In various roles, he always fought the powerful and the influential who abused and oppressed the poor and the powerless.
It's not surprising, therefore, that up to now, even in death, FPJ Poe, Jr. commands the respect and even veneration of many Pinoys.
Take the case of Michael Policar, from Karuhatan, Valenzuela City, who said in Pilipino: "Last November 1, we still lit a candle in front of our house for FPJ. I cannot forget the movies that he made. I make it a point to watch his movies on TV that I might have missed in the moviehouses. It's a pity, because he could have been our president."
There's also Dean Ramos of Novaliches, Quezon City: "Up to now FPJ has yet to achieve justice. He died unexpectedly quite possibly because he was cheated in the 2004 presidential election. For me, his fight for justice should be continued by Senator Grace Poe."
Fifteen years after his death, the memory of Da King is kept alive by "Ang Probinsyano" the longest running teleserye hereabouts.
The title of this teleserye is borrowed from an FPJ movie in 1997. In fact, its official name is "FPJ's Ang Probinsyano."
Here, Coco Martin plays the fictional character Ricardo Dalisay, a police officer who fights an unending succession of bad guys, from corrupt government officials to syndicates engaged in trafficking in illegal drugs, kidnapping, electoral fraud and other criminal acts, among others. And like in FPJ's movies, Dalisay endures attacks from his enemies before he exacts revenge not only with his uncanny sharpshooting skills but also with his lightning-fast fists sending adversaries writhing in pain.
And to make sure that viewers do not forget that Cardo Dalisay is the reincarnation of FPJ in the boob tube, Susan Roces, FPJ's widow in real life, is a central character in the teleserye as his Lola Flora, who always preaches restraint and prayer amid the most trying circumstances.
If "FPJ's Ang Probinsyano" serves to remind Filipinos that the memory of Da King is alive and well—at least in the hearts and minds of his family and avid followers—there's also Sen. Grace Poe, FPJ's and Susan's adopted daughter who made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2016 on a pro-poor platform.
Her Senate biography points out that she "made Philippine election history by garnering the highest number of votes of more than 20 million in the May 2013 elections. This overwhelming mandate inspires her to work hard towards her father’s dream of uplifting the lives of the Filipino people."