NEW YORK—Remember Jaime Blanch, the Filipino stage actor who appeared in the movie “Dolzura Cortez” with Vilma Santos years ago? He lives in Watertown, Massachusetts, the city that was effectively shut down as a manhunt for Boston Marathon bombing suspect no. 2 Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, came under way.
He was stranded in Rhode Island by the massive search for no. 2 for more than nine hours but was back home Friday.
“My daughter was so happy to see me. She was still in her pajamas when I arrived,” he said. “She just watched movies all day.”
Blanch and his family, five-year-old daughter Sofia and partner Cristina with two kids from a previous relationship were awakened overnight by heavy police presence after a dramatic shootout in Watertown ended with the death of one of the bombing suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26. Brother Dzhokhar is still on the loose.
“The police called residents in the area, including us, at 2 a.m. and informed us to stay in the center of the house and for us not to answer the door unless instructed by a police offer,” says Blanch who has been quiet all these years until this interview.
Officials said the suspects had hijacked a car in Cambridge and drove to Watertown while being pursued by police officers.
Blanch was stranded in Rhode Island, an hour’s drive from his home in Watertown, for more than nine hours. He arrived home early evening today “in a ghost town but without going through any checkpoints.”
He left his home around 6:30 a.m. to conduct his business at MetLife where he sold about $600 of his jewelry—fresh water pearls from the Philippines. Just as he arrived home without checkpoints this evening, he says there were no checkpoints when he left early this morning as well.
In Watertown, Blanch has lived in Carver. Now he resides in Webster, about 6.8 miles or 17 minutes away from Arsenal, the scene with the heaviest police presence earlier but is almost empty now, at 6:30 p.m., EST.
“I’ve lived here (in Watertown) since 2003,” he says.
In the phone interview, Blanch sounds unperturbed about the manhunt. “You know (us) Filipinos don’t scare easily. But I’m certainly concerned about my family, my kids especially. Sofia calls me Pappy. Being a father, you don’t want to show you’re afraid, because you want to be strong for them.”
Blanch doesn’t want to dwell on the news about the suspect right now. “Our lives are all in God’s hands. We just have to be very careful. I only want the suspect caught so I can go home and see my family.”
Doing his thing
Blanch lived in the Philippines for 38 years of his life until he moved to the States in 2003. He lived with his mother and sister in San Jose, California for three years before moving to Boston.
“When I came to the U.S., my first job was at Bank of America, then my sister Angel introduced me to the fresh water pearl business,” he says.
In the Philippines, Blanch was a stage actor for Repertory Philippines where he appeared in such plays as Miss Saigon with Lea Salonga at CCP, Les Miserables and Pirates of Penzance, the play that got him into advertising—as an actor, voiceover talent, adman and ad agency owner/producer. He said fellow Rep alums like Bart Guingona helped him in his projects.
Blanch got his movie break to act opposite Santos when Laurice Guillen the director of the movie, called him. Guillen also came from theater. The movie, “Dolzura Cortez,” was about the life of the first Filipino AIDS victim who came out in the open.
He still appears in stage plays. Recently, he appeared with her daughter in “Resurrection: The story of Saint Peter” in Boston. As for commercials, he has done five for the Connecticut Lottery seen in this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkDP7wBbXFU
“My daughter loves to sing and act,” he says. She sees him when he sings and entertains the elderly he visits in nursing homes.
Blanch is Filipino with a mix of Spanish and English. Her half sister, Marita Zobel ( a screen name), appeared in movies with Sharon Cuneta back in the eighties and nineties. It has also been that long since we’ve heard from Blanch.