Manay Ichu Maceda sure knows how to throw a surprise birthday bash—especially if the clueless honoree is her best friend for decades, Gloria Romero.
In cahoots with Gloria’s daughter, Maritess, Manay Ichu and her siblings, who all consider the former movie queen “family,” whipped up a fun evening at the famous Vera Perez Gardens that Gloria later tearfully described as one of the happiest moments of her life.
When we got to the venue at 7 p.m., the place was dark—but, it was already “secretly” full of Gloria’s friends and well-wishers!
Later, from Gloria herself, we got the lowdown on how the “birthday party plotters” had managed to trick her into believing that her 79th birthday outing would be a private one, just for her “close-in” family:
“I was told to dress up—but, what for? We were just going out for dinner! Still, I did as they said, so we went to Makati, but then they said that Manay had asked them to pass for her at the Vera Perez’s Valencia residence, so we did as she had requested.
“But, when our car entered the gate, I saw that the house was so dark. My goodness, I thought, I’m all for economizing, but couldn’t they have at least put up some Christmas lights?!
“Then, the lights all went on, everybody shouted and sang ‘Happy Birthday’—and I finally realized that I had been successfully, completely tricked!”
A highlight of the evening’s “surprise” celebration was the loving poem written and read for his lovely lola by grandson Christopher.
Even more emotionally intense was the brief talk delivered, and the song performed by Gloria’s daughter Maritess Gutierrez, who brought many to tears with her “fierce” expression of love and gratitude.
Maritess also surprised everyone with her fine, husky singing voice—she should cut an album, she’s that good!
For our part, we particularly appreciated the way that Manay Ichu had decorated the venue, especially all of the photos of Gloria from her different movies that adorned each table as a most unique “centerpiece montage.”
The honoree’s friends had a field day trying to identify the stars she was pictured with. Was that Paraluman? Alicia Vergel? No, it was Carmen Rosales!
The photo (shown here) of Gloria that got the most avid attention was one that showed her all dolled up as a showgirl, complete with the requisite “long and leggy” look. Was it a still from “The Big Broadcast”? Hours later, the people at our table still couldn’t figure it out.
The birthday programs’ emcee was Tirso Cruz III, who did a really good job keeping the brief show eventful.
A standout in the “instant” entertainment lineup was Edgar Mortiz, who reminded everyone what a fine singer he was. Ricky Davao was razzed for his “long-playing” proclivity as a singer. The Mabuhay Singers regaled everyone with their nostalgic numbers. Tirso’s own song number was similarly well-received.
All in all, the evening was moving and nostalgic not just for Gloria, but also for her friends and colleagues, including Amalia Fuentes, Lyn Pareja, Butch Francisco, Lorna Tolentino, German Moreno, Lollie Mara, Isabel Rivas, Nards and Crispina Belen, Celia Rodriguez, Aster Amoyo—and the proverbial many, many more!
Jamie Rivera summed it all for us whens she sang the theme song of Gloria’s memorable movie, “Tanging Yaman,” in her honor. To her loving and grateful family, friends and fans, Gloria Romero is truly a treasure!