Sunday, August 16, 2009


In 1978, my girlfirend was a fashion model for Girard Peter Models. I was writing dramas for television that time. I don't watch any of the shows of the Girard Peter models, but one day my girlfriend insisted that I should watch, and I did. It was a dinner show at a plush night club in Ermita. The first thing that surprised me was that one of my friends at the YMCA, Henry Cando, was also part of the Girard Peter Models. His job in the show was to lift the women models, including my girlfriend. Henry and I worked out together at the YMCA GYM on Arroceros Street, with Joey Sanchez (Gino Antonio). Henry never told me and Joey that he was doing some modelling jobs. Nevertheless, it was a bit of surpise for both of us, because he didn’t know either that one of his co-workers was my girlfriend.

So there we were, laughing at each other while the models changed costumes. The intermission was a group called PAPERDOLLS. When they started their act, I had to watch them because they were very good. One of the members of the group was quite a looker. She performed so gracefully, and she was indeed a stunning woman. So I asked Henry who she was. Henry laughed so hard and said: “Man, he’s not a woman. He’s an impersonator. His name is Fanny Serrano.”

I was stunned. I really thought he was a woman. I looked at him again, and watching him perform showed no scintilla of evidence that he was indeed a he. Graceful movement, soft features, and a beautiful face – but a face that exuded some sadness, some vulnerability that almost broke my heart.

“I’ve got to talk to him,” I told my friend.

“What for?”

“I’m in-love with his face!” I said, and Henry blurted out laughing.

After the show, my girlfriend, Henry and I went to see Fanny. I introduced myself to him and I realized that his face was even more feminine tête-à-tête. I asked him if he had any experience in acting. He said no, only impersonating.

“Would you like to act with Rosa Rosal?” I asked him.

“Are you kidding?” he said, smiling.

I told him that his performance inspired me to write an episode of ULILA, and by just watching his movements, I just knew that he can act. He agreed, and I told him that I will let the studio send a script when I’m done with it.

The episode of ULILA was called FARIDA. It was the story of Alfredo, Jr., a.k.a. Farida (Fanny Serrano) a womanish-looking young man who was working as an impersonator in a gay bar without his father’s knowledge. He thought that something was wrong with him because he was feeling dizzy all the time. In their neighborhood, the macho men imbibibng alcohol outside made Farida the butt of their jokes. Unfortunately, his gayness was affecting his younger brother (played by Caloi Pimentel) who got teased a lot by his peers just because his older borther was gay. He would come home bleeding from fisticuffs. This constant rigmarole irked his father Alfredo, Sr. (Rolly Papasin). Alfredo Sr. punished Farida by hitting him so hard and dragging him out of the house and disowning his Junior because the latter was bringing nothing but shame in the family. The pleadings of Farida’s mother Tinay (Rosa Rosal) fell on deaf ears.

Farida stayed with his friends in the gaybar. A male dancer named Erwin (Rafael Lucas) was the most caring in the joint. Erwin was a komiks illustrator who was being paid so low that he had to moonlight as a macho dancer in the bar to finish his university degree. Farida was glad that Erwin was trying to strive for a better life. Farida had the same dream. He was trying to save up some money so he could go to college and change his life, and be accepted by his father and hoping that someday, his father would finally be proud of him. But for now, impersonation was the only available job for him that would pay better to fulfill his dream. One of the other impersonator in the club was UBANGGA (Joey Galvez) a dark complexioned funny impersonator who was also kind to Farida.

One day, Farida collapsed. He had an inoperable brain tumor. Ubangga and Erwin went to see his father but he refused to allow his son back to his house. Farida died. Tinay went to the hospital and hugged her son’s cold body. Alfredo Sr remained firm, unrelenting, untouched by his son’s death. But after the burial which he did not attend, we see him late at night, boozing up alone at the dining table, then shoving the bottles of alcohol and weeping, his whole frame shaking. He lost his son, after all. The son he loved but refused to tell him so when he was still alive.

This father and son story was directed by Mario O’hara, and during the taping, Mario and I were both stunned when almost all of the crew were deeply affected by the scenes involving Rosa Rosal, Rolly Papasin and Fanny Serrano. Many became tearful. Danny Vibas, a movie reporter, approached me after the scene where Fanny was beaten by Rolando Papasin, and whispered to me: “Joemarie, it’s too violent. I’ve never expected it this way,” he said, removing his glasses, and wiping his tears.

My hunch was right, after all. Fanny Serrano was indeed a fantastic actor. He played his role as if he was a veteran performer. He was the only new actor who made the crew react this way. When the episode aired, BBC-Channel 2 was stormed by phone calls. Televiewers where asking who Fanny Serrano was. It was the first time they saw him perform and yet his performance struck their hearts and minds. When TV week magazine came out, there were requests from viewers to cast Fanny again in future episodes.

Meanwhile, I got all the flak from the gay community. Many were mad at me for writing an episode about a gay person, which they claimed, of which I had no idea what it's all about to be gay. They accused me of ostracizing the gays by making the father beat the gay son unabashedly. They even told me to do another episode, but make sure that the gay son will fight back and kill his father! There was even a TV producer who confronted me after the taping, accusing me of being so irresponsible for writing a lifestyle that I was totally ignorant of. He even threatened me to bring up the matter to the Benedictos and he will do his best to yank me out of all my TV shows. He went on saying that if it were him who was being abused by his father, there is no doubt he's going to retaliate. Quietly, I told him: "well, why don't you write a script about that?" The more he got mad and screamed. "From now on, I don't want to see your face ever again. Just be careful. All the gays in UP are fuming mad!" He left and had never spoken to me again. I was not yanked out from the network, and the young producer suddenly disppeared. After six months, I asked Marcial Sanson where the guy was. Marcial told me that the guy was diagnosed with cancer of the mandible and died a few weeks after being diagnosed. The gays from UP never confronted me.

But going back to Fanny Serrano, his impersonation scenes as Carole King were fabulous. After being thrown out by his father, the next scene became so heart-rending when he performed “You’ve got a friend”, where Erwin and Ubangga were watching him. His costume was amazing, and he was the one who made it. I wrote several more episodes with Fanny Serrano in them and all of them had accented his wonderful gift in acting. What’s really funny was that Fanny killed Rolly Papasin in an episode called WALANG HANGGAN ANG DILIM NG GABI. In this episode, singer Romy Mallari played Fanny’s younger brother, and I was in disbelief when Romy performed the role so well. I never knew the guy was an amazing actor as well.

There you go, folks. Fanny Serrano is not just a very talented beauty specialist that many of you know him to be. He is also a very talented impersonator, actor and costume designer. A multi-talented individual that the Philippines can be really proud of.

Thank you, Fanny Serrano. You’re not only a wonderful actor and beauty specialist par excellence, but you are also an amazing person. Mabuhay ka.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

August 16, 2009 at 11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Napadaan lang.

Wow. Where can we buy the DVD of this show? I never knew Fanny as an actor. Did Mario O'hara work in TV before? Isn't he a film director?

Is Fanny Serrano still acting today?

August 17, 2009 at 12:02 AM  
Blogger Robby Villabona said...

Funny, just yesterday I thought I saw Fanny Serrano eating at Max's restaurant here in Tiendesitas, Pasig. But my wife said it's just someone who really looks like him. I really think it was him, though.

August 19, 2009 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Hey Rob:

You've been away, aren't you? Must be very busy?

I would have approached the person and ask. Usually, Filipinos are not bothered if you ask them politely.
I'm guessing. I haven't been in the country for sometime and people's attitude might have already changed?
But, if it was Fanny, I'm sure she would have talked to you no problem.

August 19, 2009 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger Everlito (ever) Villacruz said...

interesting piece you have here...very cool as cool canadian pards!

August 20, 2009 at 6:14 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...


Kumusta na ang buhay-buhay diyan sa daigdig ng buhanginan.

Yung Pinay na suplada na naging mapagpakumbaba diyan, hindi na ba tumaray uli o nag-aastang matapobre?

Hang in there and take care.

August 20, 2009 at 8:11 AM  
Blogger Robby Villabona said...

Hi, JM,

Yeah, busy but lurking from time-to-time. Been cutting down on my sitting-in-front-of-the-PC time and have taken to swimming everyday.

Well my wife says it wasn't Fanny and she's usually right when it comes to face (and voice) recognition...

Hindi naman ako mahilig lumapit sa celebrity... we see them all the time in the upscale malls. But I recently did a storyboard starring this famous actress -- di na ako nakapagpigil -- I sheepishly asked the director to ask for her autograph for me. So now I have a print of my storyboard with Gong Li's autograph on it (though you have to take it by faith it's hers -- I can't even tell if the chicken scratch she wrote was in Chinese or Roman characters). Most of my friends' reactions were to sell it on eBay. No way!

August 20, 2009 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

It's good you're swimming, one of the best activities to keep you fit.

Gong Li's making commercials in RP?

Isn't it crazy that autographs of well-known people in the world are sold rather overpriced. I had a harbound Cycle of the Werewolf signed by Stephen King. My nephew's best friend begged me to give it to him and I did. The next thing he did, he sold it to ebay. I heard it fetched $6,000. Wayne Gretzky, the hockey player, signed my $50 in a Hockey Game, The electrician who who did my home reno – pestered me non-stop to give it to him because he is a Gretzky fan. I finally gave it to him, plus $139,000 reasons for doing renovations in my house. But like what my nephew's friend did, the $50 found its way to Ebay for $1300 + 50 (of course).

People are not there anymore to collect things for enjoyment. They would rather go to ebay and sell whatever.


If you give that autograph to a younger person, chances are he might just sell it. He-he.

August 20, 2009 at 8:12 PM  
Blogger Robby Villabona said...

If I gave it to a (much) younger person, he/she probably won't know who Gong Li was.

It was for a Paris-produced commercial shot in Beijing to be aired in China. No prized for figuring out what product.

August 20, 2009 at 8:46 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

"he/she probably won't know who Gong Li was"


Young people here know who she is. The filmfests make it possible for younger people to know her.

Though what I notice here in Vancouver is that teenage girls used to swoon to Vancouver born and raised Hongkong superstar EDISON CHEN. I used to see Edison signing autographs in malls. Then the sex scandal a la Hayden/Katrina/Maricar was exposed by some enterprising people and Edison was forced to apologize in Hong Kong and flew back to Vancouver to cool off. I saw him once in a restaurant after the brouhaha, sans the screaming teenage girls. He looked rather morose these days. :)

August 20, 2009 at 10:36 PM  
Blogger PABLONG PABLING said...

Hi. You're right TF (Fanny Serrano) is an amazing person. I met him year 2007 because weve done a movie entitled "Mainit na Tubig" with Philip Salvador we are both a cast of that independent film. I portrayed the role of Ryan ,Dulce's son in that film. I hope TF could still remember me. :)

btw. thank you so much for the message that you left on my blog.

Take care always and God bless!

August 22, 2009 at 2:57 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Hi PP:

Fanny is indeed a wonderful person.

I'll look for that film and watch it. In fact, maybe I should write a review of it.

Are you still acting now? If you are, please tell me the movies you have appeared in so I can see them all. You're such a passionate writer, I won't be surprised if your actng is as passionate as well.

Thanks for visiting.
I hope you still continue your blogging after moving to USA.

August 22, 2009 at 9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marami ding memorable moments si Fanny Serrano sa MAALAALA MO KAYA, magaling talaga syang umarte.

Ang alam kong kamukha ni Fanny Serrano ay yung lawyer na si Argee Guevarra.

August 24, 2009 at 3:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Magkano na sa e-bay yung mint condition ng JUAN DE LA CRUZ BAND vinyl LP ?

I just tracked down one member in Virginia, Renato Roldan Sogueco. Sabi niya he still rocks.

Balak kung patugtugin sa 400th year ng UST sa 2011.


August 28, 2009 at 6:36 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...


Many collectors are looking for it but no one seems to find one.

Mint condition, it's $4,000. Three people have inquired about it via the Filipino community, but no one from the community seems to own that LP.

August 28, 2009 at 9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Naging member ba si Fanny Serrano ng Juan Dela Cruz band?

Ang layo naman ng tinalon ng topic!

August 31, 2009 at 12:43 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

for anonymous 2:

Juan de la Cruz band?

Nope, hindi siya naging member, but I know what you mean.

Curious lang si Auggie sa most sought-after LP ng mga collectors worldwide, and that is: the Juan de la Cruz band LP in mint condition.

For anonymous 1:

Yeah, I heard he's still acting from time to time.
I did search that lawyer you mentioned, and you're absolutely right. Magkamuka nga sila.

August 31, 2009 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger elYAS said...

thanks for dropping by!

in response to your comment in Where Are Your Yagbols, Superman:

I remember. No one has the right to condemn you on how you repair your heart because no one knows how much you repair you're hurting. That's from Grey's Anatomy. :D

I don't condemn my father. It's just that he forgets his responsibilities. Yun lang. I love him. But I don't tolerate his idleness. :D :D nyahaha!

September 11, 2009 at 9:50 PM  
Blogger kc cordero said...

hula lang... 'yun bang girad peter model na ex mo ay ML ang initials?

movie reporter danny vibas is still very much around, nakatrabaho ko pa siya sa manila times pero hindi kami magkakilala. nakikita ko siya dito sa pandacan, dunno kung tagarito siya.

mas hawig si fanny serrano kay vice ganda (standup comedian). si argee guevara e mas hawig kay ka randy valiente, hehe.

September 12, 2009 at 4:05 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...


ML? Kilala ko ba iyan?


But let's just keep it a secret.

Si Randy Valiente, mukhang abugado? Puwede. Pero, mas exotic-looking naman si Valiente kaysa doon sa abugado. Iyang tipo ni Randy ang pag-aagawan ng mga kababaihan sa north America. He-he.


Did you know that like you, my original dream was to become a priest as well?

September 12, 2009 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger MarBino said...

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September 15, 2009 at 12:52 AM  
Blogger UltraMagnetic Moe said...

I became a fan of your blog right after reading this post, and i just kept on reading. It's my first time here actually, but I read till the "basic scriptwriting" post. It was like reading a compelling book and saying "ok, I'll read one more chapter (in this case, one more post) then i'll go to sleep, but you find yourself reading 5 more until you're too sleepy that you can't comprehend anything anymore. I'm a big fan of the "arts" and your blog is perfect for enthusiasts like myself. sorry if i've said too much. I'll be going now to get some shut-eye... or maybe read one more post.

September 16, 2009 at 3:14 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Ultramagnetic Moe:

Thank you for your visit. Unusual name you've got there, guy.

I will visit your blog soon and I'll find out what sort of writing you're into. Scriptwriting or prose?

I'll make sure to leave a message in your blog.

Take care,


September 16, 2009 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger elYAS said...


Man! i really do not know you but your messages really give me second thoughs. :D i think you are a good father. haha. super thanks!

and patience, as in love. conquers all. steeg.

September 23, 2009 at 12:25 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Good for you. As I've said, it's not the end of the world. What you're experiencing right now is just temporary. Things will change.

Enjoy life.


September 23, 2009 at 12:28 PM  
Anonymous Kapre said...


ito ang link sa ibaba ng bagong blog ko na SUPER KAPRE,

Pangsundot ito sa mga puwet ng mga elitista, kasama ka na duon, hhhhhhh .......

Ilalabas ko duon ang mga HARI NG KOMIKS, ANG KOMIKS AY MALANSA AT MABAHO, at iba pa. Tiyak na putok ang mga butsi ng mga elitista dito.

September 23, 2009 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Supremong Kapre:


Okay lang iyan. Hala nga at nang mabasa natin ang mga bagong KARAYOM NA PANSUNDOT SA BOILS!


September 24, 2009 at 10:32 AM  
Blogger neto/malikot said...

me too..surprise din ako na artista pala itong si fanny serrano...kung di ako nagkakamali ay 2 movie niya meron ako....isa lang ang natatandaan ko..


November 4, 2009 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

I heard about this movie you mentioned. Arzy Pabloemailed me saying that he made a movie with Fanny called MAINIT NA TUBIG with Phillip Salvador, but I can't find any copy of it.

November 4, 2009 at 7:31 PM  

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