Late last week I received a text message from Jackie Aquino, which was forwarded to me by director Joel Apuyan from his turf at Mowelfund. Jackie’s text read: “Please pray for Director Brother Emmanuel “Maning” Borlaza who is down to 98 lbs. He only takes in like 3 spoons of food. He does not want any visitors and told his nephew Roy that he is ready to go. Let’s storm Heaven with prayers for Bro. Maning Borlaza. May the Good and Merciful Lord grant him recovery. Amen.” Director Maning, like Jackie, also serves as current MTRCB board member.
My reflex action almost like Jackie (a Christian) was to storm all the saints and God in heaven with a silent prayer to grant fast and full recovery to Director Maning Borlaza, and perhaps for whatever He wills: whatever will be, will be! The fact that Director Maning is ready to go is an affirmation that he is not holding on to dear life. But we mortals afraid of losing someone dear to us even if it’s high time to go would rather move mountains with prayers to lengthen life, as if death is not part of human nature. Makes me ask myself if it’s moral to pray to extend someone’s life who thinks otherwise. Director Maning is in his ‘80s.
I have had some personal connection with Director Maning to share, but allow me yet to wander into a most recent death and some issues on lives extended through the technology of a machine of some friends I knew back in the milieu of the mainstream movie industry which has long gone kaput whether you agree or not.
The week before, a colleague of mine, a senior member of the PMPC (Phil. Movie Press Club) and an entertainment editor of about three popular tabloids to his credit, Cesar Pambid passed away after about two years of going through a bout of dialysis for kidney and heart condition. He was laid to rest at his hometown Candaba. A graduate of Journalism with a minor in English from Lyceum, Cesar was a sharp-witted, lovable person, and was one of our closest friends in the industry. He was 65, single, and an avowed gay.
Toward the end of the past week, another colleague Richard Pinlac almost kicked the bucket. He was found unconscious, bowed down before an online gaming machine in the company of entertainment writer/radio host/talent manager Jobert Sucaldito who rushed him to Capitol Medical Center. Richard is now comatose; his life is virtually under a life-prolonging machine. Richard is co-host of Cristy Fermin in her radio show at TV5. Not leaving any word to friends and relatives should death come to him like a thief in the night, I pray for his fast recovery. He will turn 46 on Aug. 30.
Another showbiz popular character Tita Angge who is the current manager of Sylvia Sanchez, son Arjo Atayde, Gary Lim, etc., and good friend to the dear departed Inday Badiday was released a month ago from the hospital where she was declared comatose: she is exactly in the same condition at her home now under an artificial life-prolonging machine.
As regards director Maning, I had the opportunity to work with him as production designer for a monster hit movie billed Kampus with Vilma Santos in a triangulated role with Bembol Roco, and Matt Ranillo Jr., and in one story that I wrote for him billed Hatulan Si Dodong Diamond with Jay Ilagan in the lead. It was under Agrix Film outfit which eventually folded up after churning out blockbuster movies including the debut movies of directors Laurice Guillen (Kasal) and Maryo delos Reyes (High School Circa ’65).
From the throwback of the unchallenged Queen of Showbiz Death Harbinger director Arman Reyes, Maning Borlaza was the screenwriter of the memorable Iginuhit Ng Tadhana, the biopic of the late president Ferdinand and former First Lady Imelda Marcos whose screenplay he shared with directors Luciano Carlos and Chito Tapawan.
In said movie, Sen. Bongbong Marcos played himself with Vilma Santos as young Imee, and Chona Vera-Perez as young Irene. Director Maning played elder brother to president Marcos portrayed by Luis Gonzales. He did scores of movies at Viva Films, mostly Sharon Cuneta starrers, including Charlene Gonzales’s Dyesebel and one with April Boys, etc.
Director Maning who is ready to embrace his Creator in a recent deliberation from an award-giving body for a Lifetime Achievement Award lost to a peer a few years his junior by a couple of votes. Meanwhile, Tita Angge and Richard Pinlac struggle to live under the mercy of artificial breathing machines which when pulled out will surely take their breaths literally away.
But no one would dare do it for them: brings me to the notion of “active euthanasia” in which physician-assisted suicide is legal in some states of America like Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and California. In one of these States now lie in wait a famous Filipino playwright whom we have lost touch with for quite some time now in the throes of Alzheimer’s and almost about ready to take his own life, but this is an entirely different if not upsetting story twittered to us by New York-based film and theater actress Lorli Villanueva.
I suppose relatives of terminally-ill patients in this country have a different take on guilt-ridden, physician-assisted death which is to leave everything to God.