Sunday, August 17, 2014

Robin Williams and his Bohol connection

Seen: Noel Tuazon has won 1st Prize for his short story, “Gutom,” in the Cebuano Short Story Category of the 2014 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. The awarding ceremony is on Sept. 1.

Scene: The hashtag #makeuptransformation has taken over Twitter and Facebook.  People post photo collages of themselves transforming into someone new with the help of a little make-up with the last panel of their goal look plus humor. Case in point: Luke Mejares transforms himself into a tarsier! Cool!

Scene: Burglary crime wave hits the area of Graham and Pamaong streets in Tagbilaran City as several houses have been burgled in recent weeks recently. Police authorities are warning residents to be vigilant following a high number of burglaries in the area. Unfortunately, there was an intruder in our house last Saturday dawn. We lost our tabs, cellphones and cash. Most of the items, luckily, are easily replaced. And we're not hurt at the time, which is the biggest blessing. Please be warned of any text messages from my old mobile number 09212446791. Several of the burglaries happened as offenders gaining entry via an open ground-floor window or door. They also happened during the day.

Robin Williams, the beloved comedic actor known for his roles in “Dead Poets Society,” “Mork & Minday,” Mrs. Doubtfire,” and most recently his role in “The Crazy Ones,” died Monday, August 11 at the age of 63.

Robin Williams and Marsha Garces
Up to now, dozens of fans including Filipinos in America could be seen visiting Williams’ star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame to honor his memory and say “Thank you” for bringing joy into their lives.

“We’re so sad that he’s gone,” said US-based Boholano socialite Mikey Gatal who brought a large bouquet of flowers to lay on the Hollywood star. “He’s really a great actor. One of Hollywood’s finest actors of our time.”

Many fans, including yours truly, grew up watching his television shows and movies or listening to his comedy albums. He won an Oscar for the 1997 movie “Good Will Hunting,” and won five Grammys over the years for live and recorded albums.

In his past interviews, Williams bared his strong Philippine connection. His second wife, Marsha Garces, a half-Filipino half-Finnish, is from Ubay in Bohol.

Marsha is the daughter of Pantaleon “Leon” Marciano Fernandez Garces and Ina Rachel Matilla, a Finnish. Pantaleon was born on July 27, 1909 in Ubay town. He immigrated to the United States in 1929, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and then chose Milwaukee  as his home where he devoted himself to family, friends, and his work as a chef. During the last twenty-five years of his life, he enjoyed retirement close to family in Phoenix and San Francisco. He died on March 9, 2002 at age 92. His wife Ina died in 2003. The couple’s ashes were buried alongside those of Pantaleon’s siblings and cousins in the Ubay cemetery.

Pantaleon and Ina Garces
Marsha served as nanny to William’s first child Zachary. The couple had two kids Zelda and Cody. As part of an extended Pinoy family, Williams visited the Philippines years ago and Marsha introduced Pinoy foods like “adobo, chicken hinalang and pansit.”

Marsha’s cousins (l-r) Archt. Joy Delfin-Abrigos, Jewel Delfin
and Judge Daniel Jose Garces.  
As a wife, Marsha was producing and assisting Williams in his films such as such as "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Dead Poets Society," "Patch Adams," and "Good Morning, Vietnam."

After marrying in 1989, Williams and Marsha divorced in 2008.

People from all over the world shared stories and photos of meeting the comic legend, and several families spoke about what an impact he made on their lives.

In 2007, Williams donated US$10,000 to finish the construction of the Sacred Heart Shrine in Poblacion, Ubay town. When Williams learned that the church had no budget, he sent donation to the Garces family.

“It feels good, actually ang kadtong gihatag niya nga US$10,000 maoy nakatiwas sa building. Kay kuwang man gud og roofing, paghatag niya adto hallelujah, nahuman jud ang building,” said Judge Daniel Jose Garces, Marsha’s cousin. “So very grateful for that...unya we hope he may rest in peace.”

Robin Williams donated US$10,000 to help finish
 the Sacred Heart Shrine in Ubay, Bohol. LPU 
According to Marsha’s relatives in the US and in Ubay, Williams was friendly and funny and they were touched of his generosity as well.

“Robin was really a very nice person, friendly and down to earth,” said Jewel Delfin, Marsha’s first degree cousin, who runs the Bohol Northeastern Colleges (BNC). “We’re surprised when my cousin Marsha filed a divorce and the divorce was something irrevocable. At first we didn’t know about it, we just knew about it just recently when he died.”

However, Delfin didn’t elaborate details why Marsha divorced Williams. Delfin shared that Williams was close to Pantaleon even after their divorce.

“When my uncle and aunt Ina had their golden wedding anniversary, it was really very bongga,” said Delfin. “It was held at the ranch where they invited celebrities during the party. That’s how Robin respected my uncle.”

The world has lost an immense talent, a creative genius and one of the great voices of Hollywood ...but his fans around the world will continue to honor his memory through laughter. 

A star not soon forgotten. Your VRS at 
the star of Robin Williams at 
The Hollywood Walk of Fame, a place
 where movie stars live
 on and fans can go to celebrate their favorites. 
The legend's star was showered with 
flowers, candles and a mini Oscar statuette. 
Thanks for your letters, all will be answered. Comments welcome at, follow leoudtohan at Twitter /Facebook.

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