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Negrense movie legend Susan Roces passes away

Negrense movie icon Susan Roces, popularly known as Lola Flora on the long running “Ang Probinsyano” primetime series, passed away Friday evening, May 20, her daughter Senator Grace Poe confirmed.

She was 80 years old.

“With great sadness, we announce the loss of our beloved Jesusa Sonora Poe, whom many of you know as Susan Roces. She passed away peacefully on a Friday evening, May 20, 2022, surrounded by love and warmth, with her daughter Grace, her nephews Joseph and Jeffrey and many of her family and close friends,” a statement posted on the senator’s Facebook page said.

“She lived life fully and gracefully. Remember her in her beauty, warmth and kindness. She is now with the Lord and her beloved Ronnie — FPJ. We will miss her sorely but we celebrate a life well lived,” the statement added.

Her husband, actor Fernando Poe Jr., passed away on Dec. 14, 2004.

It did not say what her cause of death was but unconfirmed reports said she suffered from a heart attack.

Roces was born Jesusa Purificacion Sonora in Bacolod City on July 28, 1941 to Dr. Jesus Tonggoy Sonora and Purificacion Levy.

It was at La Consolacion College (LCC) Bacolod where the seed of her acting career was planted and where her deep faith in God grew, Roces said in an interview in 2019.

She was in Bacolod then to receive her Centennial Legacy Award for Excellence in Culture and the Arts from LCC.

Roces said it was while she was in third year high school that her teacher Luisa Medel (Howard) taught a new course on speech and drama.

“We enjoyed the subject very much because it was something new,” she said, adding that included learning about Shakespeare’s works, such as Romeo and Juliet.

“Ms. Medel said, Jesusa I think you have a skill for public speaking and acting, I suggest that, in preparation for a career, why don’t you try and take up the same course I took, so I took her advice. That’s why this award means so much to me because it was at LCC that my acting talent was taken notice of,” Roces said.

Roces said she went to Manila after graduation to enroll in the course Medel suggested for her.

Meanwhile, there was open house at Sampaguita Pictures that summer and she went there because she wanted to see her favorite actress, Gloria Romero, Roces said.

While she was admiring Romero, Roces said Dr. Jose Perez, Sampaguita Pictures’ producer, took notice of her and when she mentioned that she was in Manila to study speech and drama to teach, he said, “So you are interested in acting.”

Roces said she did not know Perez was a producer, she thought he was one of the villains in the movies.

He offered her a screen test, and the rest is history, Roces said.

“It is faith really that brought me to this career that up to now is enduring,” said Roces, who became one of the most popular actresses of her time.

She was regarded as the “Queen of Philippine Movies”, starred in more than 130 films, and won five FAMAS Awards.

As to the deep faith in God portrayed by her character, Lola Flora, Roces attributed it in part to her upbringing at LCC.

“What else can you do when you’re pinned against the wall, when your enemies are so powerful, maybe you cannot fight physically, but there is a power who is stronger, and that is God,” she said.

Faith in God and prayer is very important in one’s life, she said.*

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