[COLUMN] Beauty impresario Ferdie Syquia Villar’s 85th birthday celebration a great success

Beauty impresario Ferdie Villar (8th from left, seated) is shown in photo above with relatives and friends who attended his 85th birthday celebration last May 30.

PHILANTHROPIST and international beauty impresario Ferdie Syquia Villar’s 85th birthday celebration added another memorable chapter to his glorious life which took place on Monday, May 30 at his residence along Escanyo Drive in South San Francisco.

Ferdie Villar (seated) is about to blow the candles on his cake at his 85th birthday celebration, while his family and friends watch from behind.

The celebration started with a Holy Mass officiated by Rev. Fr. Abraham Alonzo, spiritual counselor of ANX Hospice in Daly City.

After the mass, a salo-salo luncheon with food from Lech Go restaurant in Daly city was served which included lechon, lumpiang sariwa, beef kaldereta, lumpiang Shanghai, maja blanca, halabos na hipon, binagoongan, ginataang langka and empanada.

The birthday affair was attended by Ferdie’s family and friends in the Filipino-American community, including well-known photographer in Asian Journal VP/General Manager Joseph Peralta, Northern California Rey Guarin; Edward, Myrna and Michael Cabrera; Manny and Joseph Cabrera; Anthony and Vangie Perez; Joselito and Margie Cabrera with their son Roxie; San Francisco community leaders Violet Orence, Shirley Ordoveza, Lelith Adriano, and Alex & Elvie Santos; community leaders Tess Labitoria and Joana Santos; Fil-Am beauty queens Marilen Bernardo and Leilani Atis; and Ronald Villar.

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The Philippines’ one and only Superstar has finally been recognized as a National Artist, much to the delight of her fans and supporters.

In a recent announcement by Malacañang, Nora Aunor (Nora Cabaltera Villamayor in real life), along with seven other individuals, were declared as National Artists for 2022. The other artists named were screenwriter Ricky Lee, the late film director Marilou Diaz-Abaya, the late stage director Tony Mabesa, the late fashion designer Salvador Lim-Higgins, dance choreographer Agnes Locsin, poet Gimeno Abad and musician Fides Cuyugan-Asensio. The Palace declaration (Presidential Proclamation No. 1390) was made upon the joint recommendation of the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

The National Artist award is the highest recognition bestowed on Filipinos who have made distinct contributions to the development of Philippine arts and culture.

As a newly-conferred living National Artist, recipients gets a medallion, a cash award of P100,000 (net of taxes), a monthly life pension, life insurance coverage, a place of honor at any state function, national commemorative ceremony or cultural event they attend, and they will be allotted arrangements and expenses for a state funeral, and buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Posthumous recipients get the citation and medallion, and P75,000 in cash will be given to the awardees’ nearest kin or representative designated by the family.

Nora was born in Iriga, Camarines Sur. She was the grand champion of the Darigold Jamboree Singing Contest and represented her province in the Tawag ng Tanghalan Grand National Finals in 1967.

Also known as Ate Guy to her fans and showbiz friends, Nora started her movie/singing career under Tower Productions and Tower Records owned by movie producer and director Artemio Marquez.

In 1971, she was crowned as the first ever Box Office Queen, an award given to the female actor with the highest box office record for the year given out by the Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Scholarship Foundation. Nora has won the award five times, including in 1973 when she starred in the film “Erap is My Guy” with another movie icon Joseph Estrada, who would later on become Philippine president and mayor of Manila.

Aunor is a multi-awarded actress having won Best Actress trophies in movies and television from many of the industry’s award-giving bodies – the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts & Sciences (FAMAS) Awards (5), Gawad Urian (7), PMPC Star Awards (8), Metro Manila Film Festival (8), Luna (known before as FAP) Awards (4), and Young Critics Circle (5). Internationally, she has picked up wins in the Cairo International Film Festival, Asia Pacific Screen Awards, Asian Film Awards, Sakhalin International Film Festival and St. Tropez International Film Festival, among others.

In 2015, Nora was conferred the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ (CCP) Gawad Para sa Sining for her work in film and broadcast arts. This is the highest award that the CCP gives out in different categories.

While her work in film and television is well-known, Nora’s contributions to the music industry are also indelible. At the pinnacle of her stardom as a recording artist, it is estimated that local records soared up to 60% of national sales, and La Aunor is the only artist in Philippine recording history with more than 260 singles, having recorded more than 500 songs in her career. Thirty of those singles have been awarded gold status.

One of her recordings, a cover of “Pearly Shells” in 1971, is one of the biggest-selling singles in the Philippines, with an estimated sales of 1 million units.

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