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Film icon Susan Roces, 80

QUEEN of Philippine Cinema Susan Roces passed away on Friday evening (March 20), her daughter, Senator Grace Poe confirmed on Facebook. She was 80 years old.

“With great sadness, we announce the loss of our beloved Jesusa Sonora Poe, whom many of you know as Susan Roces,” Ms. Poe’s statement said. “Remember her in her beauty, warmth and kindness.”

On Saturday, Ms. Poe confirmed cardiopulmonary arrest to be her mother’s cause of death.

Born Jesusa Purificacion Levy Sonora on July 28, 1941, the award-winning actress starred in more than 130 films over a seven decade-long career.

Younger audiences are familiar with the actress who played the role of Cardo Dalisay’s grandmother Lola Flora in FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, the long-running action series based on her late husband Fernando Poe, Jr.’s 1997 film of the same name.

The actress made her screen debut at the age of 11 in 1952’s Mga Bituin ng Kinabukasan. Her best known films include Dance O’ Rama (1963) Ana-Roberta (1965), Maruja (1967), To Susan With Love (1968), Divina Garcia (1970), Bilangguang Puso (1972), and Patayin sa Sindak si Barbara (1974) and Nasaan Ka Nang Kailangan Kita (1989). Her last film appearance was in 2003’s Mano Po 2: My Home. Her roles on television include John en Shirley (2006-2007), Iisa Pa Lamang (2008), and Walang Hanggan (2012).

Ms. Roces won five Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) awards, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the 2003 Film Academy Awards.

During the Sine Sandaan celebration in 2019 which marked the centenary of Philippine films, the Film Development Council of the Philippines named Ms. Roces as one of the Philippine Cinema Luminaries and gave her and her late husband the Love Team of the Century award.

Ms. Roces’ colleagues in the entertainment industry turned to social media to give tributes following her passing.

FPJ’s Ang Probinsiyano star Coco Martin wrote on Instagram: “Mahal na mahal kita Lola. Maraming salamat po sa lahat ng biyaya, pag-gabay at pag-aruga. Nabuo ako, dahil sa pagmamahal mo. Hindi kita makakalimutan. Nasa puso at nasa isip kita habangbuhay. Mahal po kita. (“I love you very much, Lola. Thank you for all the grace, guidance, and nurturing. I became whole because of your love. I will never forget you. You will be in my heart and mind all my life. I love you.”)

In a resolution filed in the Senate, outgoing Senate President and entertainer Vicente “Tito” C. Sotto III said, “The passing away of a legendary movie star whose invaluable contribution to Philippine cinema is beyond compare and whose sincerity, warmth, guidance, and kindness had truly touched the hearts of her fellow workers in the film industry sector, particularly the young actors and actresses who have just begun their movie careers, will be mourned by the Filipino people and the nation.”

On the Cultural Center of the Philippines President’s Facebook page, Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso wrote: “Her artistry and wisdom have become great sources of inspiration for many. But to those who have worked closely with her, it was her generosity and genuine goodness that truly made a mark. Like a true artist, she has loved her craft to the fullest, a strong pillar of the industry. Ms. Roces may have passed on, but her star will continue to shine for everyone.”

Ms. Roces’ wake is open to public viewing from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. until May 25, at the Heritage Memorial Park, Taguig City. Interment will be at the Manila North Cemetery. — MAPS