They’re immortals. They’re happiness givers who lived and died bringing the “feel-good” and hearty laughter in our lives.
On All Soul’s Day I light scented candles to resurrect them. Their candles will burn bright, from dawn to dusk, with all the souls whose candles burn bright like the stars in the night.
On top of my mind are three happiness givers. Frank Sinatra, John Wayne and Ading Fernando. They brought me happiness, from my youth to my adult life, and even now in my senior years, by sheer memories. They are superstars. Lighting candles for them is my way of expressing gratitude and paying tribute for touching my life and the lives of millions.
I light a candle for Frank Sinatra. He died in 1998. O’l Blue Eyes sang “I’ve got a crush on you” when I was in first year high, stupefied at the sight of a pretty face next door.
“I’ve got you under my skin” described my first kiss (not with that pretty face next door, but somebody else) at the back row of Ideal theater in Avenida Rizal. I was 17, I think.
Frank sang many songs which captured the thrills and spills of my life’s passages from one age to another.
“New York, New York!” had the verve and bounce of the rat race I was in during my career’s ascendancy in the executive suites of Ayala Avenue.
“My Way” was Frank’s song for the risks I took, the learnings from my mistakes, acquiring self-esteem and gaining confidence.
When I was down and out, Frank’s voice rang in my head, lifting my spirits with the brave words in “Impossible Dream.”
Frank followed the crossroads of my life. Now that I’m a grandfather to four boys, “You make me feel so young” echoes my joy when I take my grandsons for a dip in icy cold swimming holes, near ravines of Dalitiwan river.
O’l Blue Eyes with his baritone jazzy voice and swinging beat still sings to me in my poignant sunset years. Thanks a lot, Frankie, this candle is for you.
The next candle I light is for John Wayne. He died in 1979. John Wayne personified the spirit of the good defeating evil. With John Wayne around, the world was a safe place to live in. No smirking cutthroats, no shady horse thieves, no hooded bank robbers, no rowdy bar room bullies, no heinous killers and rapists dared to cross John Wayne’s path.
He punched them all with his bare fists or with the butt of his Springfield rifle. He chased them out of town, and if they fought back, he finished them off with a burst of gunfire.
I’ll always remember John Wayne’s fantastic movie, “True Grit.” The late Mike Royco, famous columnist of Chicago Daily News, was a big John Wayne fan like me. Royco recalls John Wayne’s best performance. Wrote Royco: “He was alone as a hero should be and he was sitting on his horse confronting Ned Pepper across a long lovely valley. Ned Pepper was accompanied by several villainous friends. Wayne informed Ned he was bringing him, dead if need be. And dirty Ned sneered and said something like, ‘That’s mighty bold for a one-eyed, old fat man!’
“Who can forget the look of thunderous rage that enveloped John Wayne’s face. John in a voice choking with anger snarled, ‘Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!’ And got even better when he stuck the reins between his teeth, drew a pistol with one hand, a repeating rifle with the other, and galloped full speed ahead into the valley, steering his horse with his teeth and blazing away with both weapons.”
Holy smokes! Weren’t we breathless?! John Wayne, this candle is for you. Thanks for being the champ of the oppressed.
Ading Fernando was the genius behind “John en Marsha,” the long-running TV sitcom in the ’70s and ’80s.
Ading, as the idea man, scriptwriter and director, captured the essence of the sociological wonder of why we Filipinos are regarded (and proven by research) as the happiest people on earth in spite of floods, typhoons, earthquakes, lousy government, and poverty.
“John en Marsha” was based on the pluck and luck of a laid-back Dolphy, who survives as a salesman of odds and ends. Nida Blanca is the loving, tolerant wife whose wealthy mom, played by Dely Atayatayan, always interferes with her daughter’s family affairs.
The standard show stopper is Dely’s mocking admonition: “Kaya ikaw, John, magsumikap ka… ”
Ading’s best gimmick is the use of an old used sock as John’s coffee bag which he dipped in hot water every morning to make his coffee. This beats Mr. Bean using the windshield wiper spray for brushing his teeth while he drives his Mini Cooper.
Ading himself is a very funny man. He appears in cameo roles, singing sintunado while his eyes almost crossed, his moon-shaped face covered with little craters from a bout with measles.
I knew Ading personally. He used to drop by our sales office at the former RPN TV. We talked about the silly things Filipinos do, and had a good laugh.
Ading died some years ago, and with him died “John en Marsha,” the sitcom that gave Filipinos a good laugh at themselves for many years.
For Ading, I light a candle to proclaim his genius as a humorist.
We Filipinos are exuberant in celebrating life. During All Soul’s Day, the same exuberance pervades. We hold reunions in cemeteries to pray, sing, eat and laugh. We retell sad and funny stories about our beloved departed who are alive in our hearts forever.
They are our happiness givers. They are immortals. We’ll all be immortals in our afterlife. Let’s all give happiness.
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