Aga, Richard and Gabby….It’s Raining Men in the 80s!
By Joseph Peter R. Gonzales
In times when competition is very stiff, only the ones who are determined, dedicated, hardworking and willing to hone their craft remained.
In the world of show business, handsome faces emerge almost every day. There are a lot of good-looking newbies who want to get their respective share of the popularity pie. That’s the reason why matinee idols are dime a dozen. But as always proven, looks alone don’t guarantee career longevity. There are those who initially made waves but lost steam as the race progressed because they lack the main sustaining factor which is talent.
As newbies, they have realized early in their fledgling careers that acting is a never-ending process of learning. Although they may have unimpressive start, but these actors were able to turn things around, successfully leaving their cutesy image and evolved into reliable thespians. They were responsible enough to take good care of their physical attributes and always keep that leading men look glowing.
Aga Muhlach, Richard Gomez and Gabby Concepcion are in this echelon of premiere male actors whose star power brought them unparalleled fame and critical acclaim over the years. All products of the ‘80s (which is one of the most colorful era in the history of local ‘biz), it’s amazing how they were able to maintain their popularity and stature as A-1 leading men up to the present time. They may play father roles on screen now, yet they command great respect and value from the industry.
He entered the showbiz scene in 1984 via the trendsetting youth film Bagets directed by Maryo J. delos Reyes. A member of the respected Muhlach clan which includes movie queen Amalia Fuentes and child wonder Niño Muhlach, Aga triumphantly carved his own niche in the ‘biz through sheer discipline and focus. As a tot, he used to appear in films that starred his aunt Nena like Babaing Hiwalay sa Asawa and Aguila.
As a top-notch heartthrob of his generation, Aga starred in a number of hit youth flicks like: Campus Beat, Hotshots, Erpat Kong Forgets, My Pretty Baby, Oks na Oks Pakner, Hot Summer, Here Comes the Bride, Bunsong Kerubin, Topo-Topo Barega and a lot more. These projects showcased the be-dimpled actor’s strong screen charisma and dancing prowess.
His acting talent started to get recognized when he did Miguelito: Batang Rebelde for the late Lino Brocka followed by Napakasakit Kuya Eddie (in which he won an URIAN Best Supporting Actor trophy). That early, it was a clear sign that he would end up as one of the industry’s finest actors in the future which exactly what happened. Aga won Best Actor plums for his latter works namely, Sinungaling Mong Puso (1993), Bakit Labis Kitang Mahal (1992), May Minamahal (1993), Joey Boy Munti (1991), Sana Maulit Muli (1995), Dubai (2005), Kung Ako na Lang Sana (2003), In the Name of Love (2011) and Of All the Things (2012).
He also starred in numerous hit vehicles opposite the biggest female luminaries of the industry like Vilma Santos (Sinugaling Mong Puso, Nag-iisang Bituin), Sharon Cuneta (Kung Ako na Lang Sana), Lorna Tolentino (Bayarang Puso), Leah Salonga (Bakit Labis Kitang Mahal, Sana Maulit Muli), Regine Velasquez (Dahil May Isang Ikaw, Pangako…Ikaw Lang, Of All the Things), Angel Locsin (In the Name of Love), Maricel Soriano (A Love Story), Aiko Melendez (Ikaw Pa Rin ang Iibigin), Ruffa Gutierrez (Bakit Pa Kita Minahal), Kris Aquino (Humanda Ka Mayor), Janice de Belen (Bakit Madalas ang Tibok ng Puso), Dawn Zulueta (Paniwalaaan Mo), Mikee Cojuangco (Forever) and Dayanara Torres (Basta’t Kasama Kita).
Aga’s love life is considered one of the most colorful in his generation. His first serious romantic involvement was with Janice de Belen whom he met on the set of the comedy hit movie Super Wan Tu Tri. At a young age, they had a son named Luigi. He wanted to marry her then but Janice refused because they were still young.
Morning (Aga’s other pet name) was also romantically involved with 1993 Miss Universe Dayanara Torres when she started a showbiz career in the Philippines. There were reports that he wanted to pursue and marry her when she eventually went back to Puerto Rico but still chose his acting profession in the country. The handsome actor also had a relationship with Aiko Melendez but also didn’t last.
Eventually, Aga ended up with Charlene Gonzalez, a cousin of his Bagets co-star JC Bonnin. They became friends when Charlene joined Oki Doki Doc, Aga’s top-rating sitcom over at ABS-CBN. They got married in Baguio in 2001 and are blessed with twins Atasha and Andres.
Aga’s durability as an actor is simply amazing. He has worked with almost all of the top directors in the land and the most popular female stars. Far from retirement, he’s still got a lot to offer on screen – truly, the mark of a front rank star!
Tagged as the Brown Adonis of Philippine Cinema, Richard is the son of former sex siren Stella Suarez. He is the epitome of the “Tall, Dark and Handsome” which catapulted him as one of the top heartthrobs of the ‘80s. He was actually a model before pursuing a career in showbiz.
His maiden screen appearance was in the ensemble movie Hindi Mo Ako kayang Tapakan followed by Inday Bote in which he shared the frame with Maricel Soriano. From there, he forayed into public consciousness as he made one movie after the other like: Blusang Itim and Paalam, Bukas ang Kasal Ko (opposite Snooky Serna), Super Islaw, Once Upon a Time, Nasaan Ka Nang kailangan Kita, When I Fall in Love, Fly Me to the Moon, Hanggang Saan ang Tapang Mo and Nasaan Ka Inay.
Apart from Maricel and Snooky, Goma (as he is fondly called in the ‘biz) starred in hit potboilers opposite the most popular female stars of the time like: Gretchen Barretto (Lumayo Ka Man sa Akin), Hilda Koronel (Nagsimula sa Puso), Alice Dixson (Dyesebel), Lorna Tolentino (Nagbabagang Luha and Kailan Mahuhugasan ang Kasalanan), Dawn Zulueta (Hihintayin Kita sa Langit and Iisa Pa Lamang), Dina Bonnevie (Akin ang Pangarap Mo) and Megastar Sharon Cuneta (Buy One, Take One, Kahit Wala Ka Na, Ngayon at Kailanman, Kapantay ay Langit, Walang Kapalit, and Minsan, Minahal Kita).
Goma started exhibiting depth in acting when he did Kid, Huwag Kang Susuko and Tuklaw, two offbeat portrayals which proved his versatility. Eventually, he won Best Actor trophies for Hihintayin Kita sa Langit, Saan Ka Man Naroroon, Wating, Dahas and recently, The Trial. His other critically-acclaimed performances include: Filipinas, Ikaw Pa Lang ang Minahal and Ikaw ang Lahat sa Akin.
Richard had a high-profile romance with Sharon Cuneta in the early ‘90s. Everyone thought they would end up in the altar but fate had a different plan. Goma figured in another much-publicized relationship with Dawn Zulueta. Prior to these, he dated model-turned-movie star Melissa Perez-Rubio and another model, the late Patricia Borromeo. He tied the knots with model-TV host- turned politician Lucy Torres in 1998 with whom he has a daughter, Juliana.
Apart from acting, Richard is also an accomplished sportsman. He was once part of the Philippine rowing team and has won a Gold Medal for Fencing at the 2005 Southeast Asian Games. During his prime, he sponsored GOMA Cup, the renowned golf tourney participated in by celebrities from various disciplines. The handsome actor excels in volleyball, basketball and swimming as well.
On the civic and political side, Goma spearheaded MAD (Mamamayan Ayaw sa Droga), a campaign against use of illegal drugs. He also ran as Senator during the 2007 elections but lost. He decided to run as Congressman of Ormoc City in 2010 but was disqualified since he failed to establish residency in the said province. Lucy replaced him instead and won.
Richard has successfully made the rounds in the leading TV networks in the land. He first started with ABS-CBN via the classic sitcom Palibhasa Lalake and Richard Loves Lucy. It was in GMA though where he made various programs that exhibited his flexibility. Apart from doing soaps like, Ang Iibigin ay Ikaw and Forever in My Heart and tele-fantasyas like Captain Barbell and Encantadia, he also tried hosting. Two of his top-rating shows then were Family Feud and S-Files. Now, he’s back in the Kapamilya grounds and his last prime time offering titled You’re My Home, a certified hit. Like Aga, Goma is one entertainment icon whose durability is unquestionable.
Gabby is every inch, a movie star. His mestizo looks and killer smile propelled his popularity to greater heights as the ‘80s ushered in. He was undoubtedly a sensation when he appeared in a famous toothpaste commercial that made female and gay fans alike swooned. He was like a Disney prince brought to life. And the masses didn’t mind his affluent background.
His introductory appearance was in Regal Films’ Katorse as one of Dina Bonnevie’s leading men. The rest is history as they say as he starred in one hit movie after the other as a member of the original Regal Babies. As a top matinee idol then, he starred in numerous youth-oriented flicks like: Underage, Boystown, Bilibid Boys, Burgis, Story of Three Loves, Always in My Heart and Totoo Ba ang Tsismis along Superstar Nora Aunor.
He headlined projects opposite the reigning screen princesses of the time like: Snooky Serna (Hello Young Lovers, Anak ni Waray Vs. Anak ni Biday, Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang and Rosa Mistika), Maricel Soriano (Pepe and Pilar), Janice de Belen (Always in My Heart and Puppy Love) and Sharon Cuneta (Dear Heart, P.S. I Love You, My Only Love and Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin).
Interestingly, it’s his love team with the Megastar that further boosted his popularity as they became the hottest screen tandem during those times. Their on-screen romance translated into real life and they got married in 1984. As adult performers, they starred in more hit vehicles like, Sa Hirap at Ginhawa, Pati Ba Pintig ng Puso, Una Kang Naging Akin, Bakit Ikaw Pa Rin and Tayong Dalawa.
Gabby started to get recognized as a serious performer in the late Ishmael Bernal opus Pinulot Ka Lang sa Lupa opposite Maricel and Lorna Tolentino. This was followed by critically-acclaimed performances in: Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin, Nagbabagang Luha, Rosenda and Bakit Iisa ang Puso. He won an Urian best Actor trophy for his work in Narito ang Puso Ko opposite Lorna Tolentino.
With Star for All Seasons Vilma Santos-Recto, the gorgeous actor made unforgettable potboilers like Sinungaling Mong Puso, Asawa Ko, Huwag Mong Agawin, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Hahamakin Lahat and Pahiram ng Isang Umaga.
When it comes to his love life, Gabby’s most celebrated chapter is of course, with Sharon whom he married though they separated a few years after KC was born. He also had a relationship with Janice at one point. He has daughters with Jenny Syquia and Grace Ibuna.
Gabby was absent from the showbiz scene for years as he left for the States and started a new life there with current wife Genevieve Yatco-Gonzales. They have two daughters.
However, as the old saying goes, once an actor, always an actor. Gabby stormed back into the ‘biz in 2008 and never looked back since. He became active again and still gets meaty parts like in the currently airing GMA prime time soap titled Because of You where he plays leading man to Carla Abellana.