Thoughts on the death of FPJ — was he ready?

This week, almost the entirety of the Philippine archipelago mourn. They mourn for the death of the “king of Philippine movies” and considered by most politicians as the opposition leader. Fernando Poe, Jr., commonly known by his initials FPJ, died of coronary thrombosis Dec. 14. His death was such a big deal, the 2 tv giants cover his wake as if the Philippines is having an election.

People tell stories about FPJ’s endless goodness to them. They tell about their happy memories with him. They cry. Including my wife. Yes, including Joy.

I remember when young actor Rico Yan died, it has almost the same impact. But not with Joy. I can still remember her saying she won’t cry for any artist who died and will die, except when FPJ dies. She fullfilled her promise. I can relate with my wife. She, including myself, is a true-blue FPJ fan. I remember when I was a kid, about 6 to 10 years old, my dad would bring me to Manila whenever there is an FPJ movie. (Another actor that could make me travel to Manila was Lito Lapid, now a Senator). Joy, on the other hand, would tell stories about her succesfully bringing her entire barkada to watch FPJ’s “Dito sa Pitong Gatang”. And when I started going out with Joy in 1997, we would never miss a single FPJ movie. So you could imagine that to her, FPJ’s death is like loosing a grand father.

So why would I file this post under “Theology”? You’ll find out later.

While Joy and I were having lunch this afternoon, she told me about the latest testimonies of people about FPJ. (She was like, literally stuck on the TV screens). She told about FPJ paying the hospital bills of another actress Janice Jurado amounting to P800,000. That house that he gave his horse trainer. The list seems endless. When you watch the morning shows especially those of ABS-CBN’s, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Then, suddenly, I was struck by how profound she talked about FPJ’s death with her sister.

She told me about their conversation. She said, one of the reasons why she’s sad is that she was thinking if FPJ was ready when he died. By “ready”, she meant if FPJ would go to heaven. Her sister, in contemplation, suggests that he was ready because he was really a good person. I could image her sister echoing those people’s testimonies. And besides, her sister said, he is a Marian devotee.

I halted Joy for a moment to ask what a Marian devotee is, having a non-Catholic background that I am. To cut the long explanation, it is summarized as simply someone devoted to Mary. Simple, eh! ;)

And so she continued. Here comes the profound, theological comment from a non-theological minded, believer of Jesus.

She carefully explained, You see, in as far as FPJ’s salvation is concerned, his good works amounts to nothing. Even his being a Marian devotee can’t help him. Unless he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, I doubt it if he’s ready, she explained to her sister.

My heart was smiling. There goes the wife of a future pastor. :)

That explain pretty much why I’d like to file this post to “Theology”. Because the issue of FPJ’s death, as far as his salvation is concerned, involves the gospel and his response to it.

Ok, FPJ fans, I’m not here to discredit what he has done for people. In fact, sometimes, when I watch them talk on TV, I am always humbled. Sometimes I would think that even if I have money, I can’t do what he did. But can that be used as his passport to heaven?

First of, the Bible says we are all born sinners — we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Our forefathers sinned and sin is some sort of a curse that is passed from generation to generation. That makes us all in the same playing field (Ps. 51:5, Rom. 3:23)

The bad news is, being sinner automatically qualifies us to death — not just physical death, but also spiritual death. Some people call it hell. But what is worse than hell as we know it but being eternally separated from a glorious, wonderful, loving God?

Our natural tendency is to ‘patch up’ our sins with good works hoping that it may solve our sin problem — hoping that we will be saved if our good works exceeds the number of sins we committed. But unfortunately, that not God’s economy. According to the Bible, even our good deeds are as filthy rags in God’s eyes. (Isa. 64:6). I used to think that it’s unfair. But come to think of it, our good efforts, most of the time has hidden agenda, whether we are aware of it or not. Some do good not for the sake of doing good, but to make themselves feel good, or as what I have said, to pay for the bad things they have done.

If our good works amounts to filthy rags, what then can save us from being separated from God for eternity? Jesus, sino pa? No amount of good works, or even no amount of devotion to any saints can save us. It’s only Jesus — sinless, Son of God, creator who became a creature, who died a sinner’s death so that sinners like us shall live — who can save us. (John 3:16, Eph. 2:8,9) Trusting what he has done — that is, his saving power — and not what we have done or plan to do is the only solution.

Unfair? I don’t think so. You see, we can only face a glorious God if our focus is on Him, not on ourselves. Here’s the logic behind all these. Jesus has to die and by doing it gets all the credit for saving us. The reason is very basic if we only think about it — it also saves us from being self centered. Imagine if we can go to heaven because of our good works. Imagine yourself going around heaven telling everyone that “I am here because I donated canned goods to flood victims, and oh, Jesus also died for me.” Continue doing good, because it is obvious, doing good is good. But we cannot use it as passport to heaven. We can go there because He is good. He loves us so much that he had to endure the pain so we would not. Ang dali lang para sa atin, di ba? Pero naghirap naman sya.

So, was FPJ ready to meet our heavenly father? If while alive, he decided to accept Jesus’ offer of salvation — that is, apart from his good works, I think we can see each other later. We can both say, Pare, galing ni Jesus, nandito ako dahil sa kanya. And both worship him for all eternity.

It’s sad, though, if Joy’s assumption is correct — that he didn’t and just trusted that all his good deeds can save him from his sins — both private and publicly known.

  • aileen

    Mr Pastor to be, yes I definitely agree with you that only Jesus can save us. But let me tell you this, as an ordinary citizen and a barely fan of FPJ, who unlike your wife who cried after hearing several testimonies of FPj’s good deeds, I do believe that a man like him who doesn’t let his left hand know what his right hand doing already accepted Jesus as his Savior. If you’re wife religiously watched the tv’s coverage, she could’ve heard from abs cbn anchor reiterating his wishes while he was still alive, it goes like this “In my death I want to be remembered as a simple person who doens’t held any grudge to any person and that whomever I had mistaken into I want to ask for forgiveness from them too”. Like you said, all men come fall short to God. If FPJ sinned and so our we, and if he had that unflinching virtues like simplicity, generosity, kindness, forgiving and integrity, I don’t think all of us have that. Not to mention his unwavering compassion among those deprived. I am not saying he sees Jesus in every person but knowing the pureness of his heart is more than enough to say he believed in Jesus. But for those skeptical, lets not focus of his passing by wondering if FPj’s soul will be saved or not, because expert theologian we maybe or not, we cannot tell what second life has instore for all us but we can only believe. Right now I believe and continue to pray that he is now with the Father in Heaven.

  • Arnold

    Thanks, aileen, for the comments. I do hope the FPJ is with God in heaven right now. What I simply stated is a principle — that our deeds cannot be our passport to heaven — and that is not to say that FPJ didn’t make it. I will praise God if I’ll see him in heaven later.