By Rey C. Lachica
His name does not ring a bell for many Filipinos, but Soliman Cruz doesn’t mind it at all.
But if someone say “General Quirante”, chances are great that he will be remembered and recognized by those regularly watching the highly-rated TV program “Ang Probinsyano” on giant network ABS-CBN.
Small wonder, three ladies in their 30s gushed as they exited an old but very popular restaurant on Padre Faura corner Bocobo Streets in Manila.
“That’s General Quirante!” said one lady.
“Who is Gen. Quirante?” asked the other lady curiously.
Without batting an eyelash, the lady who is perhaps one of the avid followers of the program which the late great actor Fernando Poe, Jr. originally portrayed in several blockbuster movies, said: “Siya ang kalaban ni Coco Martin sa ‘Ang Probinsyano’”.
The portly actor, however, proved to be totally different from the character he’s portraying with ease on the TV program.
While he’s wicked and deceitful in that TV program, the 55-year-old theater veteran turned out to be a nice guy. But make no mistake, he’s not as charming as Coco Martin.
Despite his new-found star status, Cruz was very accommodating.
Eating by his lonesome in an old-fashioned bar table, he readily smiled when someone approached him and asked some questions.
Unknown to many, Cruz used to be a basketball fan.
He rattled several names, but for him, Yoyong Martirez and Jimmy Mariano stood out among the greats of the past.
“They played for the country’s pride and nothing else. The situation now is different from the past. Some are now playing for the money,” said Cruz.
To become a good actor, one has to be athletic and health conscious.
“Actually actors and athletes have similarities. Athletes should know how to act and actors should also be athletic. Maraming magaling mag-acting sa mga atleta,” he said with a smile.
Floppers in basketball could pass the screen tests – either for a role on TV or movie.