Some of the best friendships I have had have been with the opposite sex. It might seem weird that I should write about this so soon after my husband’s crossover, but this was something he understood and never complained about, even if I stayed out from 9 p.m. till 3 a.m. with Leo R.
If I said that tito Leo was picking me up for coffee, the entire household knew that I might not be home until the wee hours, and his wife Bubut knew this, as well.
Our relationship started with the fights we would have on “The Children’s Hour,” which he directed and I produced.
In those days (some 25 years ago), Leo was top gun. He was in such demand that if you wanted him for a project in December, you had to book him in January. He did all the big shows and directed all the big stars—Kuh, Celeste, Basil, Lea, Louie, etc.
Then his wife Bubut, who was an urban planner, was offered a very important position with Unicef in Brazil.
Leo decided to give everything up. He told his wife that all their married life, she had supported him in his career, and that now it was time for him to do the same for her.
Boy, did my jaw drop. This was, indeed, a special man.
They packed up everything, rented out the house they had built, and went to Brasilia. Bubut was boss in the office, and Leo decided to take art courses in the university and check out how they made the art forms used in the Carnavale.
Then Bubut was offered an even better position in New York, so Leo took more painting lessons in the museum, and had an exhibit.
I caught up with him there when we went on a 40-day trip to talk and bring the images of the Lipa Mediatrix of all Grace. He came to some of my talks, and we sat on the steps of the Museum of Modern Art eating deli sandwiches.
Bubut was then offered a position as Unicef representative to Jordan, West Bank, Djibouti, etc. They set up a prayer group with other families, and through their prayers it was made known that the family should go home for a while.
But by then Leo’s career was nowhere. My heart was in tatters for him.
I saw the pain he went through when former friends criticized and put him down. He kept silent, and perhaps it was only because I was so kulit that I learned of his pain.
He went back to acting on stage, then cameo roles in teleseryes, earning a pittance of what he used to make.
In the meantime, Bubut was assigned to India and brought their youngest child Beja, so she could experience the educational system.
Leo and I would meet at least once every two months or so, and the poor waiters at Figaro or Coffee Bean would probably groan inwardly at our arrival, knowing full well that even the water fountains at the Hub would be shut off long before we would leave our table.
We talked of everything: His parent’s love story, show-biz chiz, various art forms, prayer, miracles, what needed to be done to improve television, how Pinoy nationalism, dignity of labor, respect for elders and culture weren’t really incorporated into our lives, etc.
We never ran out of things to share. Even when he brought me home in his worn-out, falling-apart car, we would park in front of my gate and still talk, and talk, and talk.
He was the first to come to the hospital when I was admitted. He prayed over me, and according to Jegs, he cried as he did so.
I am so blessed, God is good. He sends us angels—BFFs (best friends forever)—in unexpected forms.