Poe gets National Artist medal on his birthdayBy Erika Sauler
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The late Fernando Poe Jr. often cooked gambas and adobo, his daughter Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares fondly recalled.
Aside from his taking time to cook for them, Llamanzares said Poe’s warm embrace and fatherly talks were also among her fond memories of the late actor who was conferred the National Artist award on August 16 by President Benigno Aquino.
“Those were simple things but we deeply felt his love,” Llamanzares told the Philippine Daily Inquirer after the mass held at the Manila North Cemetery to mark Poe’s 73rd birth anniversary, which was attended by hundreds of fans and supporters.
Showing her father’s National Artist medal, Llamanzares said she was thankful to accept the award from a credible President. Poe’s family had declined the award from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006 to protest what they considered as fraudulent election results.
“It’s worth the wait (for the award) to be conferred by a truly-elected President,” Poe’s wife, actress Susan Roces, had said during the award ceremonies in Malacañang Thursday last week.
The formal rites were witnessed by National Artists Eddie Romero, Virgilio Almario, Napoleon Abueva and Abdul Mari Imao, officials of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts.
“Walang bahid pulitika ito [This has nothing to do with politics],” Roces said in her speech.
Proclamation No. 435, signed by President Aquino on July 20, 2012, confirmed Proclamation No. 1069, signed by former President Arroyo on May 23, 2006, which declared Poe as National Artist (posthumous).
FPJ, or Ronald Allen Kelley Poe in real life, was born on Aug. 20, 1939 and died of a stroke on Dec. 14, 2004, amid an electoral protest questioning the result of the 2004 presidential election, where he lost to Arroyo.
“The people will continue to remember Poe not as a presidential candidate but for the kind of life he led, which continues to inspire his fans (who) are still there to show their support for him,” said Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, who led the wreath-laying.
Lim also announced that a monument in honor of Poe would be installed along Roxas Boulevard to “(perpetuate) his memory as a true and sincere champion of the masses.”
Rez Cortez, former chairman of the National Council of Concerned Volunteers that supported Poe’s candidacy, said they would not stop until Poe was declared winner of the 2004 presidential election.
“It should be put in history that (Poe) was the true winner even if he could not be proclaimed anymore, to give justice to his service to the country,” Cortez said. He added that since Arroyo could not be jailed for an electoral fraud case in 2004, the Commission on Elections and Department of Justice had instead pursued the electoral sabotage case in 2007.
Cortez said Poe’s case underscored how cheating has progressed from retail to wholesale election fraud.
Llamanzares said that people should know that the real winner of the 2004 presidential election was someone honorable who had helped a lot of people.
“That is our belief… I hope something (would) be done to complete the investigation,” she said.