[I would like to share with you this story I wrote, which remains relevant to this day. Here is one individual who truly deserved the Ramon Magsaysay Award for public service. She is a Filipina ahead of her time and one I truly admire. Ms. Rosal turns 81 this year.]
Philippine domestic helper Marivic Parrenas was jailed in Saudi Arabia.
Her family told actress-turned-Red-Cross-volunteer Rosa Rosal that the pregnant Parrenas was raped by a friend of her employer. Rosal tried to get the young woman freed. “I was passed like a ping-pong ball from one [Philippine] government official to another,” she recalls. “Impossible, they all told me.” Until Fidel Ramos, then the country’s president, asked Rosal to come to the presidential palace so he could donate blood, something he has done every year on his birthday since 1953. In the 10 minutes it took to get a pint of his type “A” blood, Rosal had told him the sorry tale. “I bled him on a Tuesday,” she says. “On Thursday, Marivic was on a plane and by Friday she was back in Manila.”
Ramos describes Rosal as “very caring. If she whispers anything to me, it is to request something for someone else.”
So it is fitting that Rosal, 67, is being honored this year (1999) with the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service.
A woman who puts the needs of others before hers
“The board of trustees recognizes her lifetime of unstinting voluntary service, inspiring Filipinos to put the needs of others before their own,” reads her citation. Rosal has not only persuaded generations of Filipinos to donate blood and fund Red Cross centers and laboratories. She has also helped battered women, abandoned children, ill people and poor students get on with their lives.
Born Florence Lansang Danon, Rosal became a movie star at 16. She happened to walk by a film shoot and caught the eye of the producer, who cast her as the vampish other woman in another film because of her sultry looks – Rosal’s father is French-Egyptian while her mother is Filipino. Her screen name is the Filipino word for the rose (Rosa) and gardenia (Rosal). The new star’s cleavage and 22-inch waist caught the public’s imagination. “I became very controversial,” Rosal laughs. In hot weather, she would wear tight sweaters. When everyone else was cold, she would sashay in an off-the-shoulder gown.
Rosal won a local best actress award in 1955. She played a peasant in Poverty’s Child (Anak Dalita) and a tribal princess in Badjao, films that were showered with accolades at the Asian Film Festival in 1956 and 1957. She fought for and won the role of a 60-year-old woman in the Philippine film classic Earth’s Bounty (Biyaya ng Lupa) in 1959. By then, she was getting tired of the movies.
It had destroyed her marriage. Her husband, Walter Gayda, an American pilot she met in Hong Kong, did not know she was a star even as they wrote and phoned each other over three months. “I didn’t think it was important,” says Rosal. “If a person loves you, he loves you for what you are.”
Gayda was unnerved when reporters mobbed him upon his arrival in Manila for the wedding. During their honeymoon in Hawaii, Rosal appeared on TV with Philippine boxer Flash Elorde, who had just won a world championship. He presented her with his gloves. “Walter couldn’t take that,” she says. “We quarreled. The next day, he was not there.” Gayda died in a car accident a decade later. The brief union produced a daughter, Toni Rose.
A woman transforms her own pain
“When I realized it was over, I took a deep breath and went on with life,” says Rosal. A different life, as it turned out. She started helping the Red Cross’s blood-donation campaigns in 1948. (Rosal first met soldier Ramos in 1953, when he was a member of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea, and she was in Seoul with a Red Cross mission.) When sex movies became popular in the Philippines in the 1960s, she spent more and more time on volunteer work.
Rosal pioneered mass blood-donation campaigns and acquired the country’s first equipment to detect the AIDS virus in blood. She also hosted public-service shows on radio and TV. Rosal says she will use her $50,000 prize money to set up the Rosa Rosal Foundation to fund scholarships. She will still solicit contributions for her other projects. Once, she wanted 25,000 pesos ($657) to buy an air-conditioning unit for the babies of a Manila orphanage. A well-known corporation offered her coffee and told her someone would call. “I didn’t believe them,” says Rosal, “so I came back.” And returned again. They stopped serving her coffee. Rosal persisted “until they finally gave me the money.”
She has been equally firm when asked to run for public office: “The Red Cross has to be neutral.” But she is glad that another celebrity, fellow actor Joseph Estrada, took the plunge and is now the country’s president. Estrada donated 3 million pesos ($78,950) in public money to renovate a blood-testing laboratory. Rosal wants more. Only three Asian countries – Bangladesh, India and the Philippines – do not fund the Red Cross in a big way, she says. “Before I die or his term is up, I hope he will allocate 100 million pesos a year for the blood program, so no Filipino will die for lack of blood.” You heard her, Mr. President. When it comes to public service, Rosa Rosal will not take no for an answer.
Okay, I know it’s 2015; but can someone give me a 3 paragraph short summary of this article? Please!
Rosa Rosal on DICK GORDON
WATCH AND GET TO KNOW THE MAN ROSAL ROSAL LOVED
YOU ARE ALL MISTAKEN and MISINFORMED. DICK GORDON is a VERY BIG PART OF WHAT RED CROSS IS NOW!
YOU ALL ARE ASSuming about the relationship between Rosa Rosal and DIck GORDON
ROSA ROSAL LOVED DICK GORDON VERY VERY MUCH!!!!!
WATCH AND LEARN ABOUT THE MAN FOR OTHERS
YOU ARE ALL A BUNCH OF STUPID IDIOTS WRONGING THE MAN!~!
We are the “fix the problem” type not the “fix the blame”, reiterating that the Red Cross will always be an auxiliary to government, avoiding comparisons made between Red Cross and the Philippine Government in handling of disasters and emergencies.
“It is our business to help the indigent and those in need”. – PRC Chairman Richard “DICK” GORDON
One question that begs for an answer: how come we were never informed about the actual financial status of Philippine Red Cross? This is one organization, among other similar outfits, that persists on asking for donations (its volunteers are posted near toll gates) but never discloses any financial statement. I have nothing against Ms. Rosal (she is great), but since the Philippine Red Cross is led by a traditional politician named Dick Gordon, it is but proper that it informs the public, more particularly, its donors about how those donations are used.
Aktres sa liked ng FAMAS trophy
Rosa Rosal: a gift to humanity
tingting says: says
thanks for the advice…I was been able to readily get access to the 3 previous post articles regarding the Corona’s properties in the US.Well done.
She is indeed worth all the write ups in this world. We did some collaborative project with her when I used to handle the Special Concern Program of former Pres. Cory. She was really down to earth. When I advised her that her request was already approved and the MOA was ready for her signature, she came to my office in person and with her was no less than the Sec Gen of Red Cross, I was deeply honored by her gesture when in fact she could have just sent a messenger, gotten the documents, signed it and returned the duly signed MOA and I could do the rest. Going back to the time of the late Pres. Cory, low ranking employees like me were really given importance by people such as Ms. Rosa Rosal.
rafael l. vidal says
“We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies.”
Rosa Rosal is the epitome of a woman obssesed in helping
others in need; a tireless, self-less, and age-less beauteous
woman bestowed with heavenly strength and indomitable spirit.
She is a rarity in our modern and complicated world and the
envy of many.
“Whatever you do to the least of our brethen, you do
unto me.” Jesus Christ
…nagkaroon ng bahid pulitika ang “Kapwa Ko Mahal Ko” nang kumandidato sina Orly Mercado at Coney Angeles.
I remember as a kid watching her black and white movies on television in the 60’s with my folks – she had that high rise bikini bottom (girl’s belly buttons were not bared then), the ubiquitous cigarette, and heavily made up face – to highlight the “contrabida” role! But of course, as all you people noted truly she is the “woman for others” – an unselfish, caring, empathy filled and loving woman.
andrew lim says
I cant seem to access the other previous posts- “a curious set of transactions..”; “corona’s daughter bought California…” and the “Does Renato Corona have a clone…”
Message error is HTTP 500 Internal Server Error, website cannot display the page.
Dont know if it’s timing as there are many accessing it, or is it under repair, or what.
so, its not just me….I’ve been trying to access the two topics the whole day yesterday too but i kept getting the same server error message.
Must be the bandwidth…broadband speed that made worse by traffic
still cant access those 2 topics…is there a way to work around it? …missing all your intelligent comments…
oooppps…i’m confused now…i dont know if its just a coincidence but i was able to get in to the two topics (without the error) by sending a reply to the “rosa rosal….” topic. it happened twice already. To the others who get the “error” msg, try what i just found out….
same thing, i have been getting the same for the past 3 days..very frustrating. i hope this works….
tingting says: says
hope to succeed following your advice…
@mynavy thanks…it worked
rose cruz says
will try your suggestion…
andrew lim says
Really still cant access those posts. Must be something wrong there. Tried it on different days, different times. Do others still have same difficulty. I noticed that all new comments are now on other posts.
andrew lim says
just followed mynavy’s suggestion, and yes, it works. can acccess them now. but is it always like this?
Rosa Rosal is also a Kapwa Ko Mahal Ko fame.
Guy With A Blog says
Rosa Rosal is a perfect example of how to walk the talk. She lived what she believed in and for. Hats off to Ms. Rosa. And something to think about in a holiday that is supposed to induce reflection on the word “sacrifice”.
Red Cross political neutrality?? I heard Richard Gordon phone interview on March 11, 2011 at the height of Japan’s tsunami warning taking a swipe at the government and again sometime in December 2011 during the disastrous floods brought about by Typhoon Sendong. Both interviews were aired at SBS television channel here in Australia.
I don’t know how to get hold of those interviews, but if this is worth taking a second look, I’ll try to dig them.
he’s a sore loser. he’s just bitter. di na yan dapat binibigyan ng importansya
AUGUST C FERNANDO says
What could be the longetivity secret of Ms Rosa Rosal!? Bata pa ako ay dalaga na siya. I was maybe still in Gr One when she was already a notorious KONTRABIDA to Delia Razon, Cecilia Lopez, Linda Estrella, Carmencita Abad, etcetera. And now, more than HALF A CENTURY later, she is still so strong, young-looking and way sooooo active in her Red Cross thingie. Long live, Ms Rosal! Mabuhay ka! ORCHIDS AND CHEERS TO YOU!
She broke rules of behavior :)
oneself free will works, no doubt.
her unselfishness is her secret…
rosa rosal, isang kontrabida sa pelikula, isang napakalaking bida sa tunay na buhay!