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Celebrating Amalia Fuentes’ legacy

JUST A THOUGHT: ‘Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.’ – Anne Frank

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AMALIA FUENTES in her prime

AMALIA FUENTES in her prime

AMALIA TURNS 76: Philippine Movie Queen Amalia Fuentes celebrates her 76th birth anniversary tomorrow, Aug. 27. Although sidelined by a stroke in October 2015 that left her partly incapacitated, Amalia is recuperating well at her New Manila, Quezon City home.

During a recent visit, we noted how her condition has improved immensely. She introduces herself to guests as Amalia Muhlach, presses their hand as a sign of thanksgiving and friendship. The retired actress and film producer continues to undergo therapy.

As a toast to the ’60s movie queen, we allow contributor Job Gosamo to pay tribute to one of the biggest box-office superstars of Philippine movies, the legendary Ms. Amalia Fuentes:

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GETTING TO KNOW AMALIA: Amalia Muhlach may not be, at the moment, in the pink of health, but be assured that she is on her way to recovery.

Perhaps now is a good time to hark back to bygone days spent in her company. It is also an opportunity for her loyal followers to know her even better.

I can safely claim that I am among the fortunate few who know the legendary queen of Philippine cinema, up close and personal. After all, our association has spanned three decades of in-house talkathons, out-of-town trips, food adventures, shopping sprees and partying.

Intellectual discourses are the stuff that Amalia goes for, which makes talking to her truly stimulating. It is always a joy listening to her engrossing reminiscences of her past, incisive observations of the present, and profound discernment of the future.

She gets her highs from discussions of current events, world affairs, history, arts and philosophy.

Far from being mere glamor and glitter, she can discuss the merits and demerits of a painting with a certain amount of authority.

She can slice and dice past and current architectural styles, can reckon whether a writing possesses lip-smacking morsels of literature that must be consumed for intellectual and spiritual nourishment or if it is but a trashy mental peregrination penned by some pretentious, rambling wordsmith.

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GREAT CONVERSATIONALIST: In conversations, she does not exhibit a know-it-all attitude. She gives everybody the chance to say their piece. She is all ears to anybody who has something smart to say, to the point of remembering sharp one-liners she hears.

Because her standards are high, her circle of informed gabfest buddies is understandably restricted. Although condescension is not a vice she is guilty of, she has little time for those whose common sense is forever on vacation.

Candor, confidence, courage, brains and fun are the quintuple attributes that unambiguously define Nena. She speaks with candor, ever ready to fire when provoked and never mind if all hell breaks loose.

Best is to get out of the way. When intensely aggravated, her scathing reactions have little respect for political correctness as she is in the business of securing ethical, not political points.

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In the past, she had been the blight of careless adversaries who, due to reckless bravado, found themselves dead on wrong in antagonizing her because not one of them could challenge her sharp tongue in eloquence and her sharp mind in intelligence. She has the uncanny ability of shoving her toxic antagonists into untenable defensive positions, making them look dimwitted each time she delivers her parting words.

A natural livewire, Amalia brightens up gatherings without exerting effort. Her gift of wit and humor makes her the center of attraction. Unlike the publicity-chasing celebrities, she merely has to be herself to be the focus of attention wherever she goes.

That she has remained hot copy all these years is no surprise at all. Someone like her just can’t be ignored.

Francis Marcelo, one of Amalia’s loyal friends, attributes this to her star presence. “Exactly the same trait Elizabeth Taylor had,” said he.

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AS NATURAL AS CAN BE: Amalia is comfortable in her skin. Pretending to be something else is simply not her cup of tea. Hence, her personal lexicon does not include the word masquerade and charade, games she does not play.

Her reign of more than 30 years as Queen of Philippine Movies, hallmarked by blinding razzmatazz, had not beclouded Amalia’s cognizance of reality. The cinematic fantasies that hovered above and around her movie persona failed to transport her to the state of everlasting stardom, the reason why her life after retirement has been stress-free.

From the moment she went on a self-imposed hiatus from showbiz, she decided to put a premium on personal comfort which often makes some people uncomfortable. But I understand those people. Most of them are fans who won’t settle for less than the perpetuation of the glamorous, regal and exquisitely beautiful movie queen they have idolized for so long.

When seen walking in the malls in loose, simple clothes and toting extra pounds, many cannot or do not want to believe that it is “The Amalia Fuentes” they are looking at.

Occasionally, brows are raised and eyes widen, but she is unaffected. She will amble along self-assuredly, oblivious of the gazes. She will, however, acknowledge with a smile those who greet her. At the height of her fame, that smile was enough to send fans into fits of delirium.

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LOYAL FRIEND: How is Amalia as a friend?

Amalia’s friendship is non-negotiable. She treasures her friends. In fair and foul weather, she can be depended on. Just ask her closest friends. There’s Liberty Ilagan, Amalia’s contemporary at Sampaguita Pictures and her BFF.

Liberty genuinely likes Amalia the way she is – no conditions, no qualifications, no reservations.

Amalia Muhlach’s life story has a great deal of interesting details and exciting twists which she intends to reveal in “No More Tears For Me,” the tentative title of her long overdue autobiography. Her narrative, she promised, will contain “warts and all, no embellishments.”