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Fernando Poe, Jr.

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Fernando Poe, Jr.
Fernando Poe, Jr. (August 20, 1939December 14, 2004) was an iconic and hugely popular Filipino actor. Late in his life he ran an unsuccessful bid for president in the 2004 Philippine election, losing to incumbent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He was also known as "FPJ" and as "Da King".

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Personal background

Fernando Poe, Jr. was born in Manila, the son of actor-producer Fernando Poe, Sr. and Elizabeth Kelley. He was second of six siblings, born after Elizabeth and before Fernando (Andy), Genevieve (Jenny), Fredrick (Freddieboy), and Evangeline. His name at birth was Ronald Allan Kelley Poe; it was his brother Andy who was really named Fernando Poe, Jr. Actor Conrad Poe was his half-brother, son of Fernando Poe Sr. by actress Patricia Mijares.

The original surname was spelled Pou from his grandfather, playright Lorenzo Pou, a migrant from Mallorca, Spain, who ventured into mining and business in the Philippines.

As his father was a famous actor, Poe had small parts in several movies of the 1940s. However, Fernando Poe, Sr. died in 1951 after rabid puppies licked his wounds. His mother, Bessie Kelley, was an American and sometimes called Elizabeth Kelley in some sources especially in Philippine press. [1][2] [3] His mother's parents, Aurthur Kelley (WWI Army Corp of Engineer from Iowa, USA) was an Irish American who settled in the Philippines and Martha Gatbonton, a Filipina of mixed heritage.

Poe finished primary education in 1953 at San Beda College. For high school, he went to San Sebastian College, Mapua Institute of Technology, and University of the East. After the death of his father, he dropped out of the University of the East in his sophomore year in order to work to support his family.

He married actress Susan Roces in a civil ceremony in December 1968. They were later married in a church and among their primary sponsors were then President Ferdinand Marcos and First Lady Imelda Marcos. Mary Grace was their only child, an adopted one.

Although a well-known public figure, Poe had been very reclusive about his personal life. However, in February 2004, during the presidential campaign, Poe admitted to having sired a child out of wedlock. Ronian, or Ron Allan, was Poe's son by former actress Anna Marin.

Acting career

Poe dropped out of high school to work in the Filipino film industry as a messenger boy, and was given acting roles in subsequent years. Starting as a stuntman for Everlasting Pictures, he was given a break and landed his first starring role in the movie Anak ni Palaris (Son of Palaris) at the age of 14. The movie was not a big hit. In 1957, the movie Lo Waist Gang made him popular, and the film was such a big hit that low-waist pants became a fad.

Known also as FPJ from his initials, Poe acted in a number of movies which depicted him as the champion of the poor and downtrodden. He also directed nine movies, under the pseudonym Ronwaldo Reyes. Reyes originated from the surname of his paternal grandmother, Martha.

He established FPJ productions in 1961 and later organized other film companies such as D'Lanor, JAFERE, and Rosas Productions. In 1963, he and Joseph Estrada testified against criminal gangs who extorted money from the film industry. In 1965, he shared the lead in The Ravagers, a film depicting the United States and the Philippines working together against Japanese war time occupation. The film is considered one of the most influential Filipino films, and it helped establish Fernando Poe, Jr.'s status as a movie icon.

Poe became an award-winning actor and garnered the most number of best actor awards at the FAMAS. Among the movies that received awards were Mga Alabok ng Lupa (1967), Asedillo (1971), Durugin si Totoy Bato, Umpisahan Mo, Tatapusin Ko (1983), and Magnum 357 (1987).

Poe was dubbed as the "Da King" of Philippine movies because of his box office hits. He made over 200 films in his lifetime and ran a successful movie production firm. Among his famous movies include the Ang Panday series, Kahit Konting Pagtingin, Dito sa Pitong Gatang and Aguila. His last movie was Pakners which also stars 9-ball billards champion Efren "Bata" Reyes.
FPJ, Action Star

Selected filmography

  • Pakners (2003)
  • Alamat ng lawin, Ang (2002)
  • Batas ng lansangan (2002)
  • Ayos na ang kasunod (2000)
  • Dalubhasa, Ang (2000)
  • Alyas Lakay (1999)
  • Isusumbong kita sa tatay ko (1999)
  • Pagbabalik ng probinsiyano (1998)
  • Eseng ng Tondo (1997)
  • Probinsyano, Ang (1997)
  • Hagedorn (1996)
  • Ikaw lang ang mahal ko (1996)
  • Isang bala ka lang, part II (1996)
  • Kahit butas ng karayom (1995)
  • Minsan pa (1995)
  • Walang matigas na tinapay sa mainit na kape (1993)
  • Hindi ka na sisikatan ng araw (1990)
  • Kahit konting pagtingin (1990)
  • Ako ang huhusga (1989)
  • Agila ng Maynila (1988)
  • Gawa na ang balang papatay sa iyo (1988)
  • One day, isang araw (1988)
  • Kalibre .45 (1986)
  • Muslim Magnum .357 (1986)
  • Padrino, Ang (1985)
  • Partida (1985)
  • Panday IV (1984)
  • Isang bala ka lang (1983)
  • Panday III (1983)
  • Roman Rapido (1983)
  • Umpisahan mo, tatapusin ko (1983)
  • Panday, II (1981)
  • Panday, Ang (1980)
  • Aguila (1980)
  • Durugin si Totoy Bato (1979)
  • Bato sa buhangin (1976)
  • Batya't palo palo (1974)
  • Esteban (1973)
  • Alamat, Ang (1972)
  • Santo Domingo (1972)
  • Asedillo (1971)
  • Santiago (1970)
  • Divina Gracia (1970)
  • Perlas ng silangan (1969)
  • Alyas 1 2 3 (1968)
  • Barbaro Cristobal (1968)
  • Baril at rosario (1968)
  • Dayuhan, Ang (1968)
  • Dos por dos (1968)
  • Magpakailan man (1968)
  • Mangliligpit, Ang (1968)
  • Pagbabalik ni Daniel Barrion, Ang (1968)
  • Sorrento (1968)
  • Tanging ikaw (1968)
  • Tatlong hari (1968)
  • To Susan with Love (1968)
  • Alabok sa lupa, Mga (1967)
  • The Ravagers (1965)
  • Intramuros (1964)
  • Sigaw ng digmaan (1963)
  • Dito sa pitong gatang
  • Kapag lumaban ang api
  • Kapag puno na ang salop
  • Mabuting kaibigan...masmang kaaway

Presidential bid

Fernando Poe Jr., was the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP)'s candidate for the 2004 presidential election. A well-respected public figure in his movie career and known for his charitable but unpublicized endeavours, he targeted his candidacy at the same poor and downtrodden class whom he championed in his movies, promising to deal with the problems of the Philippines' large lower class society.
FPJ and his wife, Susan Roces, during campaigning.

Poe accepted the nomination in December, 2003 and was to be the standard opposition bearer for the Philippine's 2004 presidential election. Some accounts portray him as a reluctant candidate who was only prevailed upon to accept the nomination by his best friend, deposed former President Joseph Estrada. But other accounts say he was convinced to cast his bid for the presidency because of the overwhelming crowd that gathered for the first rally of the FPJ for President Movement at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

One of the primary issues that Poe faced during the campaign period was the disqualification case filed before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and later elevated to the Supreme Court about his citizenship. Even though he was born in the Philippines, lawyers who filed the disqualification case argued that Poe was not a natural-born Filipino, a requirement for a presidential candidate, because he was an illegitimate child who should have followed the citizenship of his American mother. They argued that Poe's father was not a Filipino either because records indicate that Poe's father was Spanish. The Supreme Court voted 8–5, with one abstention, in favor of Poe. The high court upheld the previous Comelec ruling and declared Poe was a "natural-born citizen and qualified to run." Supreme Court Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. said a preponderance of evidence established that Poe's father was a Filipino because Poe's grandfather, Lorenzo, had not declared allegiance to Spain by virtue of the Treaty of Paris and the Philippine Bill of 1902. Davide said that, in the case of an illegitimate child whose father is a Filipino and whose mother is an alien, proof of paternity is enough for the child to take after the citizenship of his putative father.

Political critics charged Poe of being heavily linked to political interest groups, and tried to compare his candidacy to that of Estrada, who ran on a similar platform, but was deposed from office and put under house arrest after numerous corruption scandals. While he was initially seen as the frontrunner in the presidential campaign, he ended up with only 9,158,999 tallied votes, against incumbent Gloria M. Arroyo's 9,674,597 votes. Poe's supporters, which include the deposed Estrada's supporters, viewed the election results as flawed, and were still under legal protest by Fernando Poe Jr and his vice-presidential running mate, former Senator Loren Legarda. Eventually, his poll protest was thrown out by the Supreme Court acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal. Legarda's protest is still pending in the tribunal.

Death

Poe's coffin amidst adoring fans.

Poe was admitted to Saint Luke's Hospital in Quezon City on the eve of December 11, 2004, after complaining of dizziness at a gathering in his production studio premise. He suffered from a stroke and slipped into a coma while being treated for a brain clot. Doctors described his condition as cerebral thrombosis with multiple organ failure. Movie fans across the country held a vigil around the hospital after news of Poe's sickness came out. He died on December 14 at 12:01 am, without regaining consciousness. Friends and allies from the movie and political worlds were at his bedside. He left behind his wife actress Susan Roces and daughter, Mary Grace.

His 9 day wake was attended by over 3 million Filipinos many of whom travelled for days and waited for hours in line for a glimpse. His funeral procession drew tens of thousands who crowded the streets of Quezon City to pay their last respects. He is buried in his family plot along with his father and mother in North Cemetery, Quezon City.

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