With the online release — before the TV airing — of their first onscreen appearance together after (collective gasp here!) 26 long years, the video commercial of a major fast food chain that stars Sharon Cuneta and Gabby Concepcion has been setting the web on fire. It has garnered 3 million views in 24 hours and counting.
And since we’re all awash with nostalgia (and Valentine's Day is just around the corner), wouldn’t it be fun to travel down memory lane when Sharon and Gabby were the country’s top screen tandem? It was, many believe, a gentler time — local movies had more uncomplicated storylines, but love stories had major feels.
Dear Heart (1981) Written and directed by Danny Zialcita / Producer: Sining Silangan
The Megastar was 15, and Gabby, he with the megawatt smile, was 17. Although she would become known as Queen of Viva (Films) later on, it was a different film outfit, Sining Silangan, that bankrolled Sharon’s film debut. Gabby, on the other hand, was already a Regal Films' heartthrob.
Dear Heart was the usual story of young love with Romeo and Juliet undercurrent but minus the tragic ending. You had the over-protective dad played by Eddie Garcia who was dead set against the blossoming romance of his daughter April and Jimmy.
With the late Danny Zialcita’s crackling dialogue, how can you go wrong with the opening scene of Ate Shawie galloping on a horse amid the pine trees of Baguio?
P.S. I Love You (1981) and My Only Love (1982) Directed by Eddie Garcia / Producer: Viva Films
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Together with Dear Heart, P.S. I Love You and My Only Love comprise the Holy Grail for Sharon-Gabby diehards. P.S. I Love You was Sharon’s first Viva-produced film, also the film outfit’s initial offering. It marked the beginning of the Viva trademark of glossy movies about beautiful people living in palatial houses and engaged in expensive hobbies.
My Only Love was a love triangle movie with a very young Jackie Lou Blanco playing the third wheel. Remember that iconic scene where Jackie tells Sharon: “Same bracelet. Pareho rin ba ang nagbigay?”
Trivia: All theme songs of Dear Heart, P.S. I Love You, and My Only Love were composed by George Canseco.
Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin? (1984) Directed by Leroy Salvador / Producer: Viva Films
Sharon and Gabby became a real couple but broke up in 1982. Dapat ka Bang Mahalin? marked their screen reunion and real-life reconciliation. It was one of Sharon’s komiks-based movies. Her performance of a long-suffering young wife won her a FAMAS Best Actress award.
Sharon’s oft-imitated scene here had her holding a maleta while confronting her erring husband: “Mamili ka, padadaanin mo ba ako sa pinto o ihahmpas ko sa ‘yo ang maletang ito?”
Sa Hirap at Ginhawa (1984) Directed by Leroy Salvador / Producer: Viva Films
In September, Gabby married Sharon in a fairytale-like wedding at the Manila Cathedral, eight months after Sharon’s 18th birthday. The wedding was filmed and shown in theaters as part of the compilation movie The Best of Sharon and Gabby. (The two would separate in 1987.)
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Sa Hirap at Ginhawa is memorable because it finds the popular love team back in Baguio where it all began for them.
Tayong Dalawa (1992) Directed by Laurice Guillen / Producer: Viva Films
Sharon and Gabby would reunite in other movies for three consecutive years. They did Bakit Ikaw Pa Rin? (1990) and Una Kang Naging Akin (1991). But the most unforgettable would have to be Tayong Dalawa (1992) because, for the first time, Sharon and Gabby played against type.
Sharon played a liberated woman who sleeps openly with a man who isn’t her husband, a big departure from her poor little rich girl roles of yore. Sharon’s performance earned her an Urian Best Actress nomination. Gabby played an aimless handyman opposite his former wife.
Now, 26 years after, the much-loved screen duo is finally back together, on screen at least. Off-cam, they have renewed their friendship. Can we expect a movie reunion next?
Arnel Ramos started writing showbiz stories full-time in 2004. He has co-authored a book on director Wenn Deramas and is putting the final touches on another one. His favorite places in the world are Baguio (it's beautifully sad!) and Lucban (cold even in the summer), but he wouldn't mind going to Crema in Italy where Call Me by Your Name was filmed.