Ricky Lo was always on top of the showbiz buzz. He had ESP (extra sensory perception), a sense of rumor that always turned out to be true.
Early this morning, I was shocked and saddened beyond words when I got this message from a friend: “Is this true? Ricky Lo has passed away.” A news item online confirmed that this was no showbiz chismis.
But of course, we will miss the showbiz chismis and blind items we read every single day in Ricky Lo’s oh-so popular column “Funfare” in the Philippine STAR. (Ricky was once voted one of Top 5 in a national survey of newspaper columnists.) Ricky religiously wrote his daily column up until three days before he passed on.
For instance, he wrote about a well-loved TV show couple separating, which the couple vehemently denied and they fought with Ricky. But later on they admitted that what he wrote was true.
Often, before I could even sit down for breakfast, I’d get these “urgent” texts from relatives or friends, which they wanted me to ask Ricky: Who is this popular actor and who is this newbie starlet that he got pregnant? Who is this bankable love team which is on the verge of breaking up? Is it true that this actress is calling off her wedding to her non-showbiz, long-time fiancé? And the list of queries goes on.
In the ‘70 and ‘80s, Ricky typed his stories on his typewriter at the office (Daily Express). He typed so fast with only his two index fingers. We called it the “Bible style” (seek and you shall find)!
Despite his often hectic/loaded schedule, Ricky always found the time to text me back. I guess he always made sure he had time for friends, no matter how popular he had become.
My friendship with Ricky had a very long history. Through the years, he remained baby-faced while I grew old and wrinkly. Like a big brother, he would show me by example how to budget my salary (back in the ‘70s, we were getting a monthly wage of P350 plus an allowance of P150). He would budget his salary by allotting an envelope for each of his different household expenditures: one envelope for rent payment, another for electricity, another for water bill, etc.
But there was a time his budgeting skills went haywire. He told me, “Nitoy (his brother) wanted to buy a pair of pants so I had to get money from the ‘rent’ envelope. After getting his pants, I told him, ‘Now, we lack money to pay for rent.’“
I remember Ricky telling me that I would be encouraged to save if I dreamt big, like buying my own car. Indeed, Ricky saved up to buy his dream car: a second-hand Beetle! We took it out for a test drive and it stalled on Bonifacio Drive in the middle of the night.
What happened? The gas tank was empty! A kind soul at the office let Ricky siphon gas off his car tank. Many years—and cars —later, Ricky and I would laugh about it.
Fame never spoiled Ricky. He remained simple and down-earth, always reminding me of our good old days. Recently, he asked me, “Remember the time when we would only eat scrambled eggs for dinner because we had no canteen in the office?” I told Ricky, “But up to now, you’re still eating scrambled eggs!”
If there was something more important to Ricky than his job, it was his family. He provided for them like the head of the family. He lost his father at a young age. He also lost two brothers in the same year, one of whom he personally took care of.
He also took care of his mother. After her death, a grieving Ricky never stopped asking me, “How do you get over the death of your mother? I see her face every time I pass by her room.”
Now, there will be no more tears for Ricky as he’s finally reunited with his mother, and they will be celebrating Mother’s Day this Sunday together.
Surely, Ricky Lo will leave a void not only in the entertainment industry, but in the hearts of those whose days he made a lot less boring, a little more intriguing. And that’s no chismis.