By Edwin P. Sallan
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
For Nora Aunor’s 60th birthday celebration, the entire Meralco Multi-Purpose Hall was transformed into a virtual museum as posters of her classic films — including “Guy & Pip”, “”Kastilyong Buhangin”, “Andrea, Paano Ba Ang Maging Isang Ina?”, “Atsay”, “My Bugoy Goes To Congress” and “Himala” — adorned the lobby and the hallway leading to the ballroom proper.
Songs recorded and popularized by La Aunor — such as her famous renditions of Hawaiian classics like “Blue Hawaii”, “Tiny Bubbles” and “Pearly Shells”, plus her version of Cinderella’s Manila Sound standard, “Superstar Ng Buhay Ko” — were also playing in the background prior to the start of the program.
Likewise, giant blow-up photos of the prized actress from various stages of her career spanning six decades enveloped the ballroom as well as a full-house of longtime fans, family members, friends, well-wishers and members of the media were on hand to celebrate another milestone in the life and times of the one and only Superstar.
The fast-paced and highly entertaining program dubbed as “Nora at 60: Superstar Noon, Ngayon at Bukas”, hosted by comedian Arnell Ignacio, began with an emotional opening prayer from Ate Guy’s adopted daughter, Matet de Leon.
“Hindi man perpekto ang pamilya namin, nagpapasalamat pa rin kami at binigyan n’yo kami ng isang mapagmahal na ina. Kahit minsan hindi po namin siya nadadalaw, alam naman po niya na kasama siya sa prayers namin. Mahal na mahal na mahal ka po namin,” Matet intoned.
When Arnell finally called La Aunor, she was escorted onstage by “Himala” screenwriter Ricky Lee. Immediately, she thanked TV5 for organizing her birthday celebration. “Sila po ang nagbigay ng ating salo-salo ngayong gabi,” she noted.
As Arnell bantered with Ate Guy, he observed the presence of other reporters from other networks and mused, “Iba ka talaga! Ikaw lang ang makakapagpunta ng representante ng bawat channel sa isang gathering!”
An audio-visual presentation detailing the career highlights of the Iriga-born phenomenon were then presented onscreen covering the many phases of her career — from winning singing contests like the “Darigold Jamboree” and “Tawag ng Tanghalan”, her well-loved loveteam with Tirso Cruz III, her long-running TV show, “Superstar”, her transformation as an award-winning actress all the way to her triumphant return from the US to her new home network, TV5.
Well-wishers who videotaped birthday messages for the Superstar included son Ian de Leon, ex-husband Christopher de Leon, former in-law Pilita Corrales, former leading man Cocoy Laurel, “Superstar” choreographer Geleen Eugenio, former manager Boy Abunda, “Thy Womb” director Brillante Mendoza, Ricky Lee, and colleagues Gabby Concepcion, Gary Valenciano, Eric Quizon, Dawn Zulueta, Alice Dixson, Judy Ann Santos and the hosts of “Good Morning Club”.
“Happy birthday! Senior citizen ka na!,” cracked Ian De Leon. “Huwag mong pababayaan ang sarili mo at ‘yung schedule mo.”
“The reason why I do what I do is first and foremost, tagahanga ako ni Ate Guy,” Abunda confessed.
Curiously, Lotlot De Leon, Nora’s other daughter was neither at the event nor recorded a videotaped message for her. Same with German Moreno, a longtime friend and co-host of Ate Guy in “Superstar”.
The event was also not without its share of entertainment as Kapatid stars Edgar Allan Guzman, Eula Caballero, Vin Abrenica and Nadine Samonte regaled the birthday celebrant and the rest of the audience with an energetic dance number to the tune of Hotdog’s “Annie Batungbakal”, from one of Nora’s famous musical films.
John Rendez, a longtime close friend of Ate Guy, also serenaded the actress with his rap number “There Can Only Be One”, while Morissette Amon, Gerald Santos, “Kanta Pilipinas” champion Chadleen Lacdo-o and Jaya also performed musical numbers.
The trailer from Nora’s latest movie, “Ang Kuwento ni Mabuti”, was also previewed as director Mes De Guzman expressed optimism that his non-traditional approach will be accepted by fans.
“Sana magustuhan po ninyo kahit experimental ang treatment ko dito at hindi traditional,” the director said.
Probably the biggest highlight of the celebration was the presence of Ate Guy’s longtime fans, many of whom are also now in their 60s. Coming from various parts of the country, these fans waited in line at the venue for as early as 4PM and bore gifts which they personally presented to Nora herself in their emotional meeting.
One even gave Ate Guy a big folding bed that prompted Arnell to once again exclaim, “Iba ka nga talaga! Ikaw lang ang artista ang nire-regaluhan ng kama sa birthday niya!”
As the theme of the celebration is about Nora’s past, present and future, director Joel Lamangan and TV5 business unit head JoAnn Bañaga went up the stage and announced a new project that will revive the Guy and Pip tandem.
Dubbed as “When I Fall In Love”, the upcoming series will also star Marvin Agustin, Akihiro Blanco, Karel Marquez and Nadine Samonte and will be directed by Lamangan himself.