We commemorate the prolific and illustrious life of the one and only King of Philippine Movies Fernando Poe Jr., who, despite his untimely death on December 14, 2004 continues to create an impact on the local entertainment industry and society through his inspiration, influence, memories, and legacy as a top-caliber and multi-faceted artist and an admirable individual.
As we celebrate his 81st birth anniversary this year, let us refresh your knowledge about our beloved movie icon and ultimate idol via this 10 fun facts about him that you may not know about him.
On August 20, FPJ celebrates his 80th birth anniversary
The one and only Da King would have turned 80 this year. He was born in Manila on August 20, 1989 to famous Filipino actor Fernando Poe Sr. and Irish-American mestiza Elizabeth “Bessie” Kelley.
He was 14 years old when he first appeared on the big screen
From being a mere stuntman, the 14-year-old Ronnie (his nickname) was eventually bestowed a starring role in the movie “Anak Ni Palaris,” a sequel to the Palaris films top-billed by his late dad. It was helmed by Director Mario Barri with Rosita Noble as the leading lady.
FPJ is the 5th recipient of “The Order of National Artist for Cinema”
Ever since it was launched in 1972, “The Order of National Artist” Award was already conferred to over a hundred of Filipino artists who excelled in the fields of literature, visual arts, sculpture, music, dance, broadcast, and cinema, including FPJ.
He was the fifth to be declared as National Artist for Cinema, joining fellow decorated and acclaimed filmmakers Gerard “Gerry” de Leon (1982), Lino Brocka (1997), Ishmael Bernal (2001), and Eddie S. Romero (2003).
His family received the posthumous recognition in 2012 after former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III approved and signed Proclamation 435 that confirmed his declaration.
He starred in 17 movies opposite Susan Roces
While there are a lot of “reel-to-real relationships” that do not last, the partnership of FPJ with his longtime loveteam partner-turned-wife Susan Roces was proven to be the most successful tandem in Philippine movie history.
They first worked together in the 1965 flick “Daigdig Ko’y Ikaw” and went on to headline 16 more films, with the 1987 blockbuster “No Retreat…No Surrender…Si Kumander” as their last.
FPJ and Susan tied the knot twice in 1968 through a civil and church wedding and raised their adopted daughter Grace Poe hand-in-hand. They’d been married for 36 years before his death in 2004.
He’s the 2nd among six siblings
While his name “Fernando Poe Jr.” continues to be one of the most popular names in the local entertainment scene, did you know that this is actually not his?
It was his younger brother Andy who’s the real namesake of their father, while Da King’s birth name is Ronald Allan Kelley Poe. Their other siblings were Elizabeth, Genevieve, Fredrick, and Evangeline. They also had a half-brother named Conrad, who’s the son of their dad out of wedlock.
He has a total of 259 movies under his belt
Throughout his almost five decades in the industry, FPJ starred in exactly 259 movies, which some of them he directed and wrote as well. Thus, there’s no wonder why he’s hailed as the “King of Philippine Movies”.
He started as a stuntman before he became "Da King"
Two years after his father died in 1951, the 14-year-old FPJ decided to quit from his studies and venture in show business in order to support their family. He first worked as a messenger boy and a stuntman for Everlasting Pictures before scoring his first-ever acting role.
He directed 9 movies using “Ronwaldo Reyes” as his pseudonym
Aside from being a top-caliber actor, did you know that he also tried working behind the camera as a screenwriter and director. He helmed nine movies under the pseudonym “Ronwaldo Reyes” (Reyes was the surname of her paternal grandmother named Martha), which he actually used for the first time in the 1970 movie “Mga Anghel na Walang Langit” as the writer.
It is said that nobody knew who “Ronwaldo Reyes” was, except from those who affiliated with the production, until the FAMAS Awards came and he was declared as the winner for the Best Story category and he proudly revealed himself. Since then, he had been using the name in his writing and directorial jobs, along with his another nom de plume “D’Lanor”.
His movie Lo Waist Gang became a big hit and made him popular
After acting debut in “Anak Ni Palaris,” he pursued his showbiz career until he soared to immense popularity through his 1957 film “Lo Waist Gang.” It was such a tremendous blockbuster that the low waist pants he and his co-stars wore in the movie became a fashion statement during that era.
All hail the King!